It’s vacation time. You and your spouse are looking forward to getting away and having some fun with the kids. But you know that keeping your children happy while en route will be a challenge. This is definitely not one of those ventures where the journey is half the fun.
Most kids, especially young ones, don’t relish being cooped up in an airplane cabin or a car for hours on end. You prepare as best you can, talking it up to the kids in hopes that anticipation of all the fun they’ll have will somehow obscure their inevitable discomfort and boredom. You wait and hope.
This isn’t a promising scenario, especially if your children really just hate to travel. Even patient and accommodating parents have been known to tear off the rearview mirror in anger, or feigned sleep on a crowded flight, praying silently that it’ll all be over soon. Rather than accept your fate, why not think through the situation and come up with a strategy for keeping the kids busy in the car or on the plane? It’s certainly worth a try. Here are some ways to make it happen:
To paraphrase, the quickest way to a restless child’s heart is through his stomach. In other words, keep plenty of their favorite treats within easy reach. If you’re trying to be health-conscious, include some nutritious snacks but don’t spare their favorites. Remember what you’re up against here – if your child has to have his Oreos, let him have his cookies and debate the evils of giving in later. Arm yourself with the kids’ favorites, and you’ll be the Source of All Good Things for a few precious hours. Try to mix in some carrots or granola bars to mitigate the effects of sugar ingestion and offer water bottles rather than fruit drinks, which are usually packed with sugar.
Just when you thought the classic travel games were dead, they return to save the day. For some reason, kids can’t resist old-fashioned travel games such as I-Spy, the License Plate Game and 20 Questions on a long car ride. If you’re driving, why not challenge the kids to a game of red Volkswagen and see who can find the most. Of course, kids really like video games so bring along those handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets bristling with gaming apps. And don’t forget to fill your goodie bag with back-ups like coloring books, crayons, sharpies, and puzzle books.
Movies on the go
Travel time is the right time for the magic of movies. If you’re renting a vehicle, try to get one with an in-car DVD player and built-in screens, or invest in a couple of portable DVD players to take in the car or on the plane. Or, if it’s more convenient, you can stream movies via a tablet or smartphone. Involve the kids in planning for the trip by having them put together a list of movies and shows they want to take or stream while you’re on the road or in the air. Once you arrive at your destination, use a streaming device to make quiet time, nap time, and sudden rainstorms a breeze.
If you have toddlers or pre-toddlers, it’s especially important to plan ahead for their sleeping arrangements. In fact, sometimes it’s necessary to bring along your own sleep solutions for your little ones. A travel crib is one of your best options because it’s lightweight, easy to set up, secure and sanitary. It’s especially ideal when space might be limited in a hotel room or Airbnb. Many portable cribs come with a carrying case for convenience and optimal ease of use.
You’ll be better equipped to handle stressful situations if you focus on your needs as well as your kids’. While on vacation, try to carve out time for yourself, perhaps with a spa treatment or just time doing something for yourself. Do you anticipate losing sleep because you’re worried about flying to and from your destination? If you suffer from anxiety when flying, it might be time to try a supplement like CBD oil, which has been shown to help quell anxiety.
This vacation, don’t give in and let the kids wear you down before you even get to the beach, the woods or the amusement park. Come armed with a full arsenal of games, snacks, movies and more and let them melt into their own world for a while. And relax. After all, it’s your vacation too.
© Daniel Sherwin – DadSolo.com, Legends of America, January 2020.
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