We’ve all been on that one outing in which everyone has lost the plot. It might have been on the train home from the city, or at grandma’s birthday party, or whilst packing the car for a camping trip. Patience is the key to any successful adventure, especially when it involves family.
Keep priorities in perspective
Many people fail to prioritise exactly why they are going to the trouble of preparing for a certain event. Second to that, they may fail to adequately prepare for it. Are you taking the kids to a museum so that they can quietly walk around, or is there an interactive display that will actually educate them? Are you going for you or for them? Either option is fine, as long as everyone is clear on the expectations.
Keep calm and breathe
We are all aware that nowhere has the creature comforts of home. There really is no point in getting into a high stress situation and forgetting to be patient over something that would be minor if you were at home. Sometimes it’s easy for things to escalate and get heated when you’re out of your comfort zone, especially for kids. They feed off the emotions of their parents.
Take a holiday
Most of us work hard to achieve the goals that we set out in our lives. While having goals is important to many, we should not forget that we need our bodies to deliver. Taking a holiday or travelling with family members is a great way of ensuring that you reset your mind and body and take a break from your otherwise hectic schedule.
Don’t ruin the family outing!
Recently I had the very unfortunate experience of totally ruining a beautiful picnic with my kids simple because my mind was absent on other matters. They wanted to go exploring and I was trying to focus on an impending deadline. It left me cranky and intolerant of everything they said and did. By the time we got back in the car and I saw their sad little faces in the rearview mirror, I realised what I had done and it wasn’t fair on anyone, least of all them. Family time should be about family and treasuring each other.
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Who doesn’t love travelling with kids? It’s so exciting throwing them in the back of the car and strapping them in for 8 hours of rolling hills, thousands of cows, millions of power poles and a very long game of eye-spy. Sorry my enthusiasm sort of waned at the end there didn’t it. These are the common first thoughts when you discuss travelling with the kids, but if you’ve done it more than once then you’ve probably got a decent idea what to expect.
I’ve got a friend who’s eldest child loves to travel; car, train, plane, anything, he loves it all and always has. Yet his younger twins were the total opposite. Even a short trip from Sydney to Canberra were torture. They constantly wriggled and annoyed each other and it was draining on everyone in the car. The family flew to Fiji and the twins tagged-team as to which one hated it more. My friend and her husband vowed to never take those two younger ones on a plane ever again. Then the weirdest thing happened, the twins turned four and were suddenly awesome travellers. In the space of a couple of months the family drove from Sydney to Brisbane and back twice without a single altercation from the back seat.
What had changed in that time? Mum & Dad learnt how to prepare for travelling with a hoard!
Here are my friends’ top tips for travelling with kids for longer than 2 hours,
- Individual lunchboxes filled with what each kid likes (tedious to prepare but worth it)
- At least one activity book per child with a small selection of crayons
- A comforting toy from home to ease potential anxiety
- 1-2 small interactive toys per child. Like a barbie/figurine (minus annoying shoes) or 2 matchbox cars or a rubix cube
- For longer trips and ipad/tablet or headrest dvd players
- One good sixe backpack for all their “stuff” to fit in. Therefore, they are responsible for keeping it all together and somewhat organised back there.
You know your kids better than anyone so it is important to listen to your own intuition when sorting out the travel arrangements. There’s no need to take a whole toy box along because kids are going to want to explore their new surroundings. You’ll also want to engage on the journey like our parents did with us. You can play good ‘ol eye-spy, or the game where you make a sentence out of the number plate of the car in front of you. Long road trips can be a marvellous opportunity to explore the creativity of your little ones.
Now pack up the car and go explore. But first, share with us your top tips for traveling with kids.