6 Ways to Ease Holiday Travel with Kids

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In just a few days, the roads and the airways will be filled with holiday travelers making their way to see friends and family. What’s more dreaded than bad weather, a flat tire or turbulence? Traveling with a toddler!

Whether you’re heading over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house or the kids are taking their first flight, the trick is a little prep work before you pull out of the driveway (and a lot of patience once you do)! Here are my six tips for traveling with young kids:

  1. Set Expectations
    I don’t mean just for their behavior (although that’s also a good idea). I am referring to the kids’ expectations. If this is their first time flying, let them know ahead of time what to expect at the airport and on the plane. If you’re staying in a hotel or a friend’s home, show them pictures and explain to them who else will be there. Keep it up throughout the trip by explaining the flight step-by-step or by showing the driving progress on a map.
  1. Pack Old & New
    Travel can be unsettling for kids, as they’re taken out of their normal routine. Bring some of their favorites – whether it’s stuffed animals, a blankie, a pillow or special toys. Be sure to pack a couple surprises as well! A new book or toy could keep kids entertained for hours – or it could be a flop. That’s why I say “a couple” surprises, so you always have something new up your sleeve.
  1. Arm Your Phone
    Board books are heavy, but that’s what toddlers like to read. Before your trip, take a couple videos of yourself reading books your kids enjoy. You can still bring their favorites, but this will save you from lugging around a dozen heavy books and give you a break while they watch. There are also great apps that can teach reading or math or just to have fun. Check out this list of kids’ apps before your trip – you may want to download a few.
  1. Pack Snacks
    Nothing can calm a testy toddler like a snack. Load up on prepackaged single-serving snacks, like unsweetened applesauce pouches, raisins, pretzels or baked chips. A few treats may also smooth out a long flight or drive. A lollipop can last a long time and keep kids happy for the duration.
  1. Schedule Sleep Time
    If you’re planning a long car ride, time it over nap time, so the kids will hopefully get a little shut eye in the car. Make sure you hit a rest stop just before naptime, and also have some drinks or snacks handy for those who don’t take a nap. Trust me – you don’t want to pull over when you have a sleeping kid! Flights aren’t as easy. I recommend avoiding naptime for flights (if you can) and either fly in the morning or late afternoon.
  1. Pack Your Patience
    I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Traveling with kids requires saint-like patience. It’s not always easy to do, but look for the humor in the situation. Sometimes having a laugh can save you from tears.

Raising Thankful Kids

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A wise person once said, “Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life.” As we approach Thanksgiving, stopping to be thankful and teaching young children gratitude is perfect timing. November’s theme is gratitude, but it should truly be part of our everyday routine. Look around and you will see many schools are filled with art worked titled. “I am thankful for….” But does that translate to teaching them to be thankful?

Raising thankful children is an ongoing process, not just for the holidays. The concept of thankfulness or gratitude are fully understood around age four. Younger children understand they are supposed to say “Please” or “Thank you,” but are still naturally self-centered humans.

Gratitude and thankfulness are ways of thinking, ways that counteracts the “gimmes” or entitlement. When children get whatever they want, whenever they want it, it dilutes the value of “things” in addition to diluting their happiness. It is never enough. Raising children filled with gratitude results more commonly in respectful adults.  

There are ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily family life.  

Lead by Example
This is likely the most common and easiest way to show your children to be kind, thankful and polite to others. Have you ever noticed how a toddler answers the phone? Pay attention and you will see that it is either they way you do, or another close family member. Children are always paying very close attention to their caregivers, more than you probably notice. Thank your spouse or partner regularly. Thank your children for things as simple as eating their dinner or using good manners- simple tasks you expect them to do.  

Teach About Others
Teaching them about other cultures, other ways of life, other parenting styles, etc is not to “guilt” them into being thankful, but to teach them that not everyone lives the same way. For a small child, this is a complicated idea. They assume everyone’s days, lives and families are the same as their day, life and family. Teach them to be thankful for our families and how special we are that we have our own individual families. Teach them to be thankful for their freedom.  We have so many freedoms that children have no knowledge of without being taught by their parents. Teach them to be thankful for simple things.

Read About Being Thankful
There are so many great children’s books with great messages. It also gives you special time to reflect with your child. Our days are so busy, it is a double bonus to read to them and make it a teaching moment. Three great books we enjoy at our house are as follows: “Bear says Thanks,” written by Karma Wilson; “Just so Thankful,” written by Mercer Mayer; and “All the World,” written by Liz Garton Scanlon.  

Giving
Children learn about the importance of giving to others mainly from their parents. Take them with you to volunteer, show them kindness by stopping and helping someone in need, encourage them to give to others. One thing we do with our children is to encourage them to donate one gift to get one gift. When doing so, we talk about giving their toys another life with another family. It is a great teaching moment. Giving does not always have to be an object; teaching them to give to others by service increases their self worth and esteem.

Thank You Notes
Many parents complain they don’t have the time to have their children write thank you notes.  Oddly, the person that gave the gift probably did not have a plethora of time to go shopping, but he or she took the extra time to make the occasion special for your child. According to Advanced Etiquette, a thank you note is the “finest form of expressing gratitude.” With today’s increasingly technical age, it is still imperative to teach children the importance of a personalized, hand-written thank you note.

Attitude
This is a very important ingredient of gratitude. As mentioned before, children watch, mimic and learn from their parents. Realizing that you have the power to influence these small humans into becoming strong, self-worthy, positive, appreciative adults is exciting!  It comes from their role models. If they are seeing their parents or caregivers as happy, confident people who give to others and show acts of kindness and respect, it isn’t foreign to them as they get older. Children are not only learning from parents behaviors, but they also pick up on moods, negative energy and frustrations.

Whether it is reading an extra story, sharing what they are thankful for during dinner, or spending extra time opening their eyes to being thankful for what they have, the benefits of raising a thankful child are unmeasurable! Studies have shown that children who are grateful are happier and more satisfied with their lives, have better relationships, are less materialistic, and display less envy and an increase in self esteem. As a close friend tells me, “gratitude is the best attitude.”

 

Band-aid Battles

Band-aids have gotten so much cuter than when we were kids. No longer are they limited to boring, light brown sticky strips with padding. In my house at this moment, we have no fewer than five types of Band-aids (Disney Princesses, Minions, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hello Kitty and Barbie.)

While these types of Band-aids are more fun, they are also known to spark fierce reactions from toddlers.

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I present to you the Four Band-aid Battles all parents have had:

Band-aid Battle #1
Kid: Owie! I bumped my arm/Johnny stepped on my foot/I got a mosquito bite/I have a tummyache! I need a Band-aid!
Parent: Since you’re not bleeding, a Band-aid won’t help here. What you really need is: an ice pack/calamine lotion/some sleep.
Kid: But it hurts! I need a Band-aid!!!

Band-aid Battle #2:
Kid: My Band-aid fell off in the tub!! I need a new one!
Parent: You cut yourself two days ago; it’s not bleeding anymore. You really don’t need another Band-aid.
Kid: I need a Band-aid!!!

Band-aid Battle #3
Kid: Hey! Why do you have a Band-aid?! No fair!
Parent: I cut my finger chopping an apple. It was bleeding, so I needed a band-aid.
Kid: But I have this (teeny) hangnail on this finger! I need a Band-aid!!!

Band-aid Battle #4:
Parent: You’ve had that band-aid on for two days. It needs to come off.
Kid: No! It still hurts!
Parent: Let’s take a look. (Rips off Band-aid.)
Kid: Owie! I need a Band-aid!!!

Parents – you have two options to end the Band-aid Battles:
#1: Stand your ground, don’t give in and only dole out Band-aids when you see blood.
#2: Go to the dollar section, stock up and give out Band-aids like beads at Mardi Gras.

Kids & Technology

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The way kids are growing up is changing. Instead of one TV with limited hours, a new study finds kids are using devices early and often:

  • 97% of parents let children use mobile devices (Most before their first birthday)
  • 75% of kids own their own mobile device by age 4
  • 28% of parents use a mobile device to put kids to sleep

Parents need guidance – not a guilt trip! I talked with WCCO about some ways parents can tap into technology in a positive way.

Click here for a screen time chart to use at home