Traveling with children is always an adventure

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Dear Mom’s Corner,
We’re planning to travel over Memorial Day weekend. Do you have any tips for traveling with children? Ours just don’t seem to travel well.
Thanks,
Dear LD,
I understand what you mean. When we first thought of having a family, I had visions of quiet evenings playing games and reading books. I also imagined fun family vacations nourishing my kids’ minds with living history, science and thought provoking conversations. I saw us in our car or van happily singing songs, playing word games, and other car games. Now how I got these fantasies I have no idea, but for the most part that’s what they were—fantasies!
We took our first trip when our oldest was 4 weeks old. It was a little 3-hour-trip to Grammies’. Well, I discovered real quick some children don’t like to travel. She screamed for about two hours of the three hour trip. I had never felt so helpless, nothing I did seemed to console her. My vision of arriving at Grammies’ with a happy cooing little baby went to the way of the wild goose.
I wasn’t terribly discouraged. I assumed as she got older things would get better. They did, well sort of. By the time she was three, she did travel better. Unfortunately, she slept most of the way. So when we got wherever we were going she’d be wide awake and ready to rip and run. For example, if we went to visit my in-laws who lived an hour away, we had to make sure we left their house fairly early in the afternoon. If we left at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., our daughter would sleep all the way home and then be up until midnight or later! Of course, the next morning she would still wake at her usual time and then be very crabby all day.
It wasn’t supposed to be this hard to travel with my little ones. This wasn’t what I had envisioned at all. However, by the time my third one came along I had developed some strategies. Here are a few things that work for us — usually.
1) Try to stick to your home schedule as much as possible when traveling. For example, get in bed about the normal time, get up about the same time, eat at usual times, etc. Children need consistancy . They feel safer and more relaxed when they can predict what’s happening next. It also helps when you get back home, because you won’t be fighting to “return” to the home schedule.
2) Make sure to have a change of clothes convenient for everyone in case of accidents. Even older children can spill drinks or get drinks spilled on them.
3) If you have a child that gets carsick, check with your pediatrician for medication that can help. However, be warned that most of that medication does make children drowsy. Also, I’ve found that the buckets ice cream comes in are great to use in the vehicle, because of the lid (toxic containment). Enough said about that one — yuck.
4) If you’re taking along battery-operated toys, don’t forget the extra batteries.
5) Small flashlights can be a lifesaver, if you have to be traveling at night. We have a standing rule that if you use the flashlight inappropriately such as shining it in your siblings eyes or shining it toward the front of the van distracting the driver then you lose your flashlight privileges.
6) Each of our children are responsible for taking along their own pillow and blanket —even when our children were as young as 2-years-old they knew that when we pack our suitcases that they needed to get a blanket and pillow. It works well to fold the blanket up and put it inside the pillow case with the pillow.
7) I also make our kids pack their own suitcases.
I give them a list of what they need to bring and then check their cases for accuracy.
8) As for munching along the way, I try to keep this at a minimum. I do keep things like grapes, dried fruit, cheese cubes, cheese sticks, pretzels, peanut butter crackers, and gummies. For drinks, we try to stick to Kool Aid and water, but we sometimes let the kids do the soda , too. I try not to give salty things early in the trip, because that makes the kids thirsty. Of course, that means more restroom breaks.
9) When it comes to meals while on vacation, we discovered several little tricks that help. First of all, we usually look for hotels that provide breakfast with the room. If we’re going to eat out we usually try to do it at lunch, because the meals are less expensive. We also try to find a buffet. Our kids eat better balanced meals at buffets. Let’s face it, anything is better than fast food restaurants.
10) As for the drive itself, we plan frequent breaks. We usually take along a ball to play with at rest stops. The car seats that keep our little ones safe are also very confining. Our kids are used to being active and need to use those muscles and burn off their energy.
Other things we have begun to carry are bubbles, various balls and mitts, and jump ropes. Basically, I let the kids take what they want as long as we have the room and it doesn’t pose a danger to others when we’re at a rest stop (absolutely no paintball guns.) Also, we do try to stick to rest stops because it tends to be less expensive.
There usually isn’t much to buy there — thank goodness. Of course, if the weather isn’t cooperating then we have to use places that have an indoor play place. However, before we go in we tell the kids how much they can spend.
OK, we’ve worked on feeding them, and packing them. What’s left — oh yeah.
Entertaining them. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a DVD player in your vehicle sometimes you can still find yourself looking for something to keep the peace!
Children love surprises, even little ones. So when we take a long vacation that has a couple days of travel time, I pack surprise bags for each day. I use plain brown paper lunch bags and put things that I’ve picked up on sale or at a discount stores. I also label each bag with a child’s name and the day they are to receive them.
Some ideas of things to include are small notepads, pencils, colored pencils, activity books, new books from a favorite series, stencils, small toys, washable makers, cards, card games, magnetic travel games, a few pieces of chewy candy etc. Just a tip about markers, you can take a small shallow container fill it with plaster of Paris, put the markers lid down in the plaster and let dry. The kids are less likely to loose the lids this way. If the lids pull out over time just glue them back in.
Things not to use in surprise sacks are play dough, silly putty, chocolate, crayons, ink pens, or ink stamps, toys with lots of little parts, gum and other things that are either messy or that will melt. By the way, did you know silly putty can melt?
Other things to do while in a vehicle are car games. For example, see how many different state license plates you can spot.
We do this as a family as opposed to individually to prevent the fuss of who saw the license plate first. Pick a color of car and see how many cars you can spot of that color or make a list of colors and then tally how many cars you count of each color. I think it’s best to set a time limit and then have the kids “graph” the results. You get the bonus of sneaking in a “school” skill, too!
Of course, there are the expensive sanity savers like the hand held video games, the aforementioned TV and DVD player, CD players, ipods, etc. However, after a while even these things will lose their appeal. That’s when you need those frequent breaks I talked about earlier.
I hope everyone has a great summer. If you have a question, tip or suggestion for Mom’s Corner, please e-mail it to: moms-corner@juno.com

Eva

Community class reunion celebrates Morgan schools

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hats off: Class of 2024 graduates from Hartselle High School

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

City adjusts garbage routes for Memorial Day

Falkville

Larry Madison has been a pillar in Falkville for four decades

Hartselle

Hartselle trio nominated for two K-LOVE awards

Hartselle

Hartselle students chosen to attend Girls State

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle Kiwanis Club continues scholarly legacy with annual golf tournament

Editor's picks

Heartbreaking finish: Hartselle comes up a run short in state baseball finals

Decatur

Fallen Morgan County officers remembered, families honored  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle drops Game 1 to Hillcrest, needs two wins for state title

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Despite title loss, Hartselle thankful for state experience 

Editor's picks

Hartselle baseball legend dies

Breaking News

Hartselle baseball legend William Booth dies at 79

At a Glance

ALDOT patching area of Thompson Road tomorrow, Thursday

At a Glance

Spring-time market day in Hartselle scheduled for May 18 

Hartselle

New Crestline Elementary School welcomes students

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle industry closing, affecting more than 150 jobs  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Habitat for Humanity applications for homeownership available June 3 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

State seeking death penalty for Fort Payne woman accused of pushing victim off cliff

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Pilot of ultralight dies in Hartselle plane crash

Editor's picks

Northern lights visible from north Alabama

Hartselle

Hartselle students to attend Boys State

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

High scorers: 42 Hartselle students a part of ACT 30 plus club

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle projects budget surplus based on midyear numbers 

x