5 Tips to Make Traveling With Kids Less Stressful

Traveling with kids could be an Olympic sport.  If you’ve ever tried to calculate how many diapers to bring for a week’s timespan, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Fortunately, we are done with diapers and our kids travel much smoother now, but there are some things I like to do before and when we travel to make our trip as stress-free as possible. Traveling with kids

  1. Car trash can.  I have a plastic cereal container (similar to this) that I use a trash can for our van.  I simply line it with a grocery bag and put the lid back on.  Not complicated at all and the trash gets contained.  Before I placed this in our car though, I went over how to use it with my kids.  I know it sounds simple, but I also knew that if I didn’t go over that with them, they’d still leave sticker wrappers and scraps beside or in their seats and the car trash can would just become another thing in our car.  It also doubles as a barf bucket in case anyone were to get sick.  So far, we haven’t had to use it for this (knock on wood), but I know it’s ready and available if need be.  I’d just take the grocery bag of trash out of it, hand the kid the container without the lid, and wash it out as soon as we could stop.  I know it’s gross to think about, but it’s a lot grosser to think about NOT having that barf bucket if you are ever in a sick situation.
  2. Outfits in Ziploc bags.  I absolutely love this tip.  When we went to Disney World, we flew and decided to only pay for 2 checked suitcases between the 5 of us.  One thing that made this so much easier was putting all of my kids clothes in 1 suitcase and putting each day’s outfit for them in gallon sized Ziploc bags.  My kids could easily pull out a baggie, take their own clothes out, and get dressed.  There was no having to match outfits in the mornings or getting one kid’s clothes mixed up with another’s.  All of the dirty clothes went back into the suitcase unbagged and clean clothes were kept nice and fresh in their Ziploc bags.  At the end of the trip, I could easily keep the empty bags in the suitcase and reuse those bags for the next trip as to not waste bags.  Side tip: You could also keep a Ziploc outfit in your vehicle for emergencies.  Another side tip…  We keep wipes in the van at all times too for easy clean up.

    Suitcase
    This is 3 kids’ worth of clothes packed into 1 kids’ suitcase for our week long trip to Disney.  All of their outfits are in gallon Ziploc bags, (kid 1’s are all on the left, kid 2’s are in the middle, and kid 3’s are on the right.) Light jackets are on top and shoes are tucked underneath.  PJ’s and undies are in the top zippered compartment. 
  3. Kids’ Travel Packs. Often times before a trip, we’ll give each of our kids a small bag that they can bring fun stuff in.  We tell them that this stuff has to occupy them in the car or on the plane (depending on our method of travel) and that they are responsible for these items.  If we’re in the car, all items must be back in the bag once we arrive at our destination.  If we are on a plane, the items in the bag have to be appropriate for air travel.  We allow them each to pack a snack or gum in these bags as well.  It makes them excited to travel and helps to occupy them on long trips.

    Adia Travel
    Adia’s travel pack is on her back in this photo.  We were delayed for about an hour before we could get on our flight and she just grabbed her kindle and was completely content waiting.
  4. No drinks in the van.  I know this seems harsh, but if we happen to go on a long trip, we’ll stop for a meal and they get plenty to drink.  If the trip isn’t long (less than 5 hours), I know my kids can go without drinks for that period of time.  Drinks cause them to have to pee, and with 3 kids, that could mean stopping multiple times at various points of our trip, meaning MORE travel time.  Occasionally, I will allow them to bring a small bottle of water.  We choose water because none of my kids guzzle it and therefore won’t likely need to stop every 30 minutes to use the bathroom.  If I allowed my youngest or my middle child to bring juice or milk, it’d be gone before leaving the driveway and we’d be stopping to use the bathroom 3 times in an hour.  I  promise they are not deprived and we provide our kids with plenty of foods and drinks, and if they need to use the bathroom, we always stop as soon as we can.  😉
  5. Clean up before you get up.  Even if we are just driving to school, I always have my kids clean up anything surrounding them in the car.  If I don’t, our van will collect food scraps, tubes of chapstick, toys, cups, papers, etc. faster than you can say, “mom van.”  I always tell my kids to clean up before they get up and I check that they do it.  This keeps our van so much cleaner each day and it has become part of our expectation and therefore, part of our routine.

 

 

Tea Parties

Before I ever had children, I imagined myself as a “boy mom.”  I don’t know why, but for some reason, I just always thought that if I was blessed enough to have children of my own, I’d have a house full of boys.  So, when I had two girls back to back (only 15 months apart in age), I was immersed in all things girl.  Though I never felt anything but immense love and gratitude for my daughters, there were moments when I felt a little too glittery and pink and floofy as I was quickly surrounded by dress up clothes and dolls.  My daughters (especially my oldest) love entering a room with a twirl and leaving nothing but glitter behind, which made this “non-cutesy” mom have a whole new perspective on appreciating my daughters for exactly who God created them to be.  I had to embrace the feather boas and adore the princess dresses as I watched their sweet imaginations blossom.  I never want my daughters to feel like they are better than anyone else or entitled, but I do want them to always feel like they are beautifully and wonderfully made, just like all of the other unique women God created so intricately.

Since my daughters love to dress up and feel fancy, I decided to start doing tea parties with them from time to time.  Tea parties are supposed to be fun, but they also have so much potential if we just look at them as an opportunity to help our daughters grow into strong, graceful women.  It also gives me the chance to soak up their innocence and embrace this sweet age.

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At our tea parties, we talk about the following:

  1. Women in our family: those who came before them and the ones who surround them now.  This is one of my favorite things to talk with them about and one of their very favorite things to hear about.  I tell them about my “Memom,” (my grandmother) who said, “ESTA!” when she’d sneeze and who loved UK basketball more than anyone I’d ever known.  I also tell them about how she served others, even in her times of grief and struggle.  I tell them about their great aunt Lori, who passed at the age of 36 and how the tea set we use came from her.  I tell them about her hilarious laugh and how she always made others feel special.  We talk about their aunts and grandmothers and they ask me to retell the same stories to them over and over again as we find inspiration in the grit and grace that came before us and still surrounds us today.
  2. Table manners and kindness.  We practice how to be polite at the table, how to look people in the eye when we have discussions, how to say, “Thank you,” and, “Please.” We also set the expectation so that our discussion with each other is always encouraging and uplifting with everyone at the tea party.
  3. Serving others.  Tea parties are a great opportunity to talk with them about how it brings me joy to get to serve them their tea and treats and I ask them to serve each other.  We talk about how doing so is not only kind to the others at the table, but how it makes us feel when we serve.

Here’s how we set up tea parties in our home to make them more than a party and less of a hassle.

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  1. The food is stuff I already have in my pantry.  I shop at Aldi and I purchase a few things that could double as something “fancy.”  Below are some items I’ve used before for our parties, but I’m sure you could use anything.  You could also use this as a time to get picky eaters to try something “new and fancy” you’ve been wanting  them to try.
    • Dried fruit (we love dried mango)
    • Fresh fruit
    • Toast with different type of jam
    • Cheese (I have ever taken string cheese and cut it into small pieces)
    • Salami slices
    • Muffins (I often buy the Garden Lite Muffins from Costco, which are full of veggies.  They are frozen and thaw quickly with the help of a microwave.)
    • Nuts
    • Pirouettes (these just seem soooo fancy to my girls)
  2. I make a small pot of tea, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  I typically use decaf or a low caf green tea.
  3. Instead of using sugar for them to mix, I usually use sweetened liquid coffee creamer for them to pour.  It’s already sweet and it’s less of a mess, and they also love to pour things.
  4. The girls get to dress up.  Sometimes, they’ll ask me to fix their hair fancy or to paint their nails.  If time permits, I honestly love to do both because it’s extra time I get to spend with them.  But if dressing up isn’t your thing, then it’s not your thing.  On Christmas Eve morning, we do a tea party and we do it in our PJ’s.
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Fancied Up Tea Party
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Christmas Eve PJ Tea Party