Sitting on the beach with your Mai-Tai the kids splashing in the water building sand castles it is so peaceful, picture perfect. So why am I grouchy at the kids to stop touching their brother. Well, it might be cause kids are just dang gonna be kids. Now how to do we keep the fantasy of our idea vacation on track.
It all starts with a backpack. Purchase a vacation backpack for each child. No sharing allowed. A week to two weeks prior to the trip take the kids one at a time to the store to pick out their travel entertainment. If you do it too soon they will change their minds on what they actually want to do. Make sure nothing has lots of small pieces. No Legos in the car or airplane. Trust me here, don't go there.
Each child should have:
something to draw on and with
a toy to play with
an electronic either game or DVD player
snacks of their own
a surprise from mom and dad for the trip
a change of clothes
Pack your children's suitcases first and do so as many days in advance as possible. If they are ready to go you will only have to be concerned about your own packing which lessens your stress and thus the kids stress. Get rest before you travel. Being worn out before we start our vacation is the perfect recipe for a grouchy trip. Put everyone, including yourself, to be early the night before departure. Get everyone up early. If you think you need an hour to get out of the house get up an hour and half early. Something always happens at the last minute and rushing makes us all frazzled. Eat a good meal before leaving. Hungry turns to Hangry in a heartbeat.
Practice travel behavior with the kiddos. It is so exciting to be traveling that children get beyond wound up and they can't calm themselves down. So practicing how to pull their luggage or carry their backpack and wait in line at the airport actually helps them keep themselves in check.
The biggest tip though is to remember that is suppose to be fun. Go with the flow. The unexpected and aggravating circumstances are going to happen. If you get bent out of shape the kids will take their cues from you. If you stay cheerful and turn it into a big adventure the kids will take their cues from you. Don't sweat the big stuff either. My daughter threw a 7 hour tantrum on an airplane. We had to stay in the bathroom for 7 hours as it was the only place I could be without her hitting the people around us. It was a nightmare for sure. But I knew that this was just 7 hours out of a lifetime of hours with this child. I took deep breaths and shed a few silent tears. I ignored the stares of the fellow passengers and kept up a cheerful soothing tone with Emili to help her calm herself. The rest of our trip was amazing and I didn't let those 7 hours ruin our entire trip.
Plan ahead. Be prepared. Be cheerful. Stay calm.
Your trip with the kids will be an amazing time of great memories.