Friday, April 27, 2012

How to Enjoy a Trip with Kids

Last week, I shared about my breakthrough vacation with my family, at the time a mom of two.  I promised to share how we not only survive, but thrive on our vacations.  With summer coming, maybe these tips can be of some help to you.

1.  Timing is everything.  The vacation I described last week could've ended up very differently. Two weeks before a baby's due date isn't usually a smart decision! The first vacation I took with my littles was also not the best timing because my baby was just eight weeks old. For me, that was too young. Although babies that young sleep through most anything and are easy to transport in strollers, carriers, and slings, they often have sensitive little tummies and skin, aren't usually sleeping through the night, and can't communicate a lick of what it is that may bother them. If you're only going to see family, these aggrivations might be worth it, but if you hope to get out and about for recreation, it might be more trouble than it's worth to carry a small infant. Our babies of seven or eight months old, however, do really great on family vacations. Sleeping in an odd location might cause for some sleep disturbance, but usually nothing too difficult to deal with by nursing or cuddling for a few minutes.

2. Take whatever "lovey" your children need.  We're Babywise folks, but however hard we might try, our children still end up attached to some blanket or stuffed animal while they're little.  We didn't realize how attached our first baby was to what we dubbed her "blinger" - the wind-up part of her crib mobile until we went somewhere without it.  We learned, unfortunately too late for her Uncle Nate, the man that graciously drove around town hunting a toy that made similar sounds.

3.  Be where the action takes place.  If you want to hike, by all means stay in that cabin and enjoy nature.  For our last vacation, even though we loved our old familiar state park stomping grounds, we decided to stay in the nearest city so that we could very quickly get to restaurants and fun touristy attractions.  I also didn't want to cook or wash dishes (this is vacation we're talking about, after all), which would've happened if we stayed in a cabin.

4. Consider spending a little money in order to save a little money (and sanity). We paid a higher price (though we were still very thrifty) in order to stay at a hotel with a heated indoor pool. It was so worth it! This meant our kids got to swim every day (with it in the mid-50's outside), and we didn't end up spending more money on outside entertainment. We also had a small fridge (for milk-filled sippy cups), a great continental breakfast, and nice exercise facility. My plan had been to take advantage of the treadmill during the kids' naptime, but a really bad cold kept me from it. Sometimes, a suite with a fold-out couch can be found wherever you travel, enabling mom and dad a good place to be once the kids go to bed, not to mention the extra bed a large family may need.

5. Be flexible and train your kids to do the same. An example: All of our three girls share a bedroom, but only the older two share a bad.  In a hotel room, they must all three sleep together.  For now, they're short, and we've found it works nicely to have them sleep across a queen bed rather than lay in the normal positions for their heads and feet.  Our youngest still fits in a pack-n-play.  We'll see what happens in the future, but we'll roll with it.  While sleeping arrangements can be planned ahead of time, unexpected and disappointing circumstances may also come about.  This is part of life, and everyone must learn to "do everything without grumbling and complaining" (Phil. 2:14).

As summer quickly approaches, I hope you'll enjoy vacation time with your family.  Now that we've had our family vacation, it'll be my turn with just my husband, also so important to the entire family's well-being!

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