Kids…am I right?
Kids on vacation (and by kids, I generally mean younger kids) are a job to manage during what should be your time to relax and rejuvenate your tired bones from all the adulting you’ve had to do over the past year or so. Some folks’ solution is to leave the kids at home, which I admit sounds nice. But…for those vacations where you’re all together, a little planning helps the childcare chore not seem so…”chore-y”.
Before vacation, start collecting fun things for the kids to do. Whether it’s waiting in the airport, sitting in the car for long periods of time or just in between those moments of awesome fun where you just want to rest for thirty minutes. It’s easy to put the kids in front of electronic devices and I’m not gonna dispense my position on that in this post.
The Rocket Science- The secret here is the fun longevity quotient. and to solve this mathematical enigma, you have to think like your child and that means thinking with the time frame your kid will use when evaluating the funness of the item/ object you have presented him/ her with. On top of that, you also have to consider the mess factor, the sharing likelihood, the jealousy, the impact of risk management/ loss and the damage deposit you have put on the place you’re staying in. So…permanent markers or a “how to make your own working volcano” science kit probably isn’t the way to go in this instance.
Activities- Dot-to-dot books, mazes, coloring books, blank sketch pads/ notebooks, search and find books, car bingo, kid binoculars, Crayola wonder marker sets (they only write on the special paper), library books (consider the potential loss of the book here and judge accordingly), lap pads, neck pillows, barbie dolls, transformers, etch a sketch, pipe cleaners…these are all workable fun things for the kids to play with and occupy themselves with. Check out dollar stores or even your toy box at home. The idea is to keep the activity stuff a surprise for the trip to increase the time they’ll actually be interested in it.
Have the kids pack their own back packs with their things right before- they get a quick sneak peek at the goodies they get to play with once the trip is underway but don’t let them look at anything too long. Consider taking inventory of the kids’ back packs and adding that to your packing list so that you are sure to grab all items when it’s time to pack to go home!
Exercise- Kids are little, their attention span is shorter, the ants in their pants far succeed the amount of ants in a grown up’s pants. Keep that in mind and plan accordingly. For road trips, look for fast food with playgrounds. If you’re picnicking en route, stop at a place where you can let your kids run laps in a safe area. Make a game out of having them hop on one foot from one place to another, see who can jump the furthest…anything that gets them using muscles and not just walking. The muscle usage is important to get that energy out quicker so you get some lasting results in terms of calm and patience from the kids when you stuff them back into the car.
Snacks- Water bottles! The kind where they have to suck liquid out, not just bottles with twist caps. The liquid in a cup or twist top bottle was made to be spilled on a child or the floor so the question isn’t if, it’s when. Sports water bottles…put whatever liquid you want in it, I will not judge here.
For snacks, think of the mess you’ll be cleaning up…because you’ll be cleaning up a mess. I’ll tell you we limit snacks in the car because the kids don’t need to eat all the time and we generally stop enough so that snack time is handled outside the car. But if snack time happens in the car, think about kid capability…choking likelihood of the snack object (because it’s always a treat to hear a kid struggling on a goldfish while you’re speeding down the interstate), what that snack will look like after it’s met a child’s foot smashing it into the floorboard, etc. Our kids love to eat apples and I’m cool with cleaning up an apple core, if needed.
The aftermath- Coming home from vacation can be exhausting. And kids generally aren’t much help in this area. I don’t blame them for not wanting to come home and they are really too small to help with the heavy lifting. Something that I like to do with the kids is show them some of the pictures we took while on vacation so they’ll start reminiscing about the fun they had. They retell their adventures with sparkly eyes and enthusiasm. I liken this to nailing the memory trunk shut so the adventures are securely inside.
So over the course of this little series, it may seem like common sense all the things I listed or spoke on, but this is how we do vacation. I’ll have one final post in this series and it’s the example of a completed vacation to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Hopefully some of these ideas you find helpful and more importantly, hopefully you have a restful vacation with your young children as a family together.
Until the next post, what is furthest you’ve ever driven with your children in the car and how did that trip go?
Don’t forget to follow our blog so you don’t miss the next installment of our summer vacation series…”Life’s a beach…vacations that don’t kill me”!