We’re going on holiday!! Yeyyy!!!…with our kiddies– woohoooo…so exciting!. That’s what I thought when I was packing away for our family holiday a few months ago. The truth is, a family holiday is not a holiday, it is actually the farthest thing away from a holiday for parents, and most of the time (but not always), especially for mums.
It is a break. A break from the norm. A break from the cooking and cleaning at home. A break from the office, a break from our everyday routine. Yet the issue is this, kids love routine, they thrive on it; it is one of the tips that is consistently present in all parenting books and articles. Routine, routine, routine. So it is no surprise that travelling with young children, even though wonderful in its own way can be quite hard work too. Here are eleven truths that I learnt, having traveled with young children a number of times:
- You will spend 80% of your ‘packing’ time packing for your kids and 20% of your time packing for you (which is usually the last half an hour when you are feeling drained, tired and bored.)
Shirt: Mayoral, Birkirkara.
“You will spend 80% of your ‘packing’ time packing for your kids”
2. Investing in a luggage for your toddler is a good idea. You may think your 2 -year old is too young to have her own luggage, however a luggage made specifically for children like the one pictured below, available from ‘Segue’, at The Point, Tigné can be a lifesaver for entertaining little ones when you’re in long queues, as your kid can happily propel herself around while sitting on top. Not only that, the strap allows you to pull your child around, saving their tired little legs if your walk to the departure gate is a long one.
“The strap on the luggage allows you to pull your child around, saving their tired little legs if your walk is a long one.”
3. Being on a plane with a child is no walk in the park. It takes planning to keep a child happy and entertained whilst in the air. And even the best-planned flights can go wrong so be prepared. Activity magazines, a favourite story book, drawing, Snap, and snacks are all good activities to keep them entertained. It’s unlikely you will need all ten (especially if you manage to get them to sleep) but better to have too many than too few.
Dress: Mayoral, Birkirkara.
“It takes planning to keep a child happy and entertained whilst in the air.”
4. Use the tablet or DVD player as a last resort. When all else fails, there is nothing wrong with offering a tablet or DVD player to entertain your child. After all, as adults we don’t expect to be entertained on a 4 hour flight by staring into the seat in from of us. Just try not to make it your everything solution, especially before you want them to go to sleep since screens keep their brain active and may disrupt sleep patterns. Your child may have a more peaceful sleep if their mind is at rest, snuggled up to mum or dad. Pack a sleepy time book for when your toddler is showing signs of tiredness.
5. The newer the toy, the longer they play. Taking a couple of toys that the kids have never seen before, even if they are really small toys like puzzles or books, helps keep them entertained at times when they may get bored like long airport waits, plane rides or simply waiting around for the next activity. Don’t forget, you are not in the comfort of your own home with quick access to everything you need at arm’s length. Don’t go crazy spending lots of money and buying lots of fancy toys, because it’s the simple things that seem to work the best.
“Don’t go crazy buying lots of fancy toys..it’s the simple things that seem to work the best.”
6. Your luggage may get lost or arrive late. This means you may end up without a change of clothes or worse, without your toddler’s favourite toy. So the best thing is to pack a change of clothes for each of you in the hand luggage, as well as anything you think your child will ask for (within limits) like a favourite toy, outfit or snack. The last thing you want is having to go airport-shopping after landing from a flight with a toddler.
7. Sleeping in a new place may play havoc with your kids’ sleep cycle. Yepp for the first night or couple of nights, your precious baby may wake up, confused that he is in a different bed to the one he is normally used to. The best thing is usually to arrive sometime in the morning or afternoon, to get the children accustomed to the new surroundings. Arriving late at night may cause confusion with your child and a horrible sleepless night for you. Packing your child’s favourite teddy or blanky should help him feel more comfortable and “at home”.
Dress: Artigli Girl, Sliema.
“Packing your child’s favourite teddy or blanky should help him/her feel more comfortable and ‘at home’.”
8. Keeping snacks handy at all times can save the day. When you are travelling you are going to come across instances where you may have planned to be somewhere by lunchtime and did not manage. A hungry cranky toddler is not what you need when you find out the restaurant you planned to go to is closed. Snacks like fruit, crackers and maybe your child’s favourite flavoured yoghurt will help avoid hunger meltdowns and allow you to buy some time until you can offer your child a proper lunch or dinner in such situations.
9. Play areas will become your favorite hangout. The truth is, young children have tons of energy to burn up, they can’t help it, the more they move around, the happier and more content they are. So at least once a day we found that taking our kids to a ‘play area’ to run around, climb, swing and slide, meant more serene, relaxed kids for the rest of the day. Especially before travelling for a long car-ride, a ‘running around fix’ was key to our survival.
Dress: Artigli Girl, Sliema.
“A ‘running around fix’ for the kids..at least once a day was key to our survival.”
10. Your kid will ask to go home. No matter how much money you spent on the holiday your kid will ask to go home at least once during the trip. Yes I know, you will probably feel a pang of pain in your chest when this happens, especially if the whole purpose of the trip was to give your kids an experience of a lifetime, however remember that your child is merely craving what he has known all his life, and the phrase is usually uttered when kids are either hungry or tired so try and tackle these issues before you start panicking and looking to find the first flight back home.
“Your kid will ask to go home at least once during the trip”.
11. The amount of time it will take to do laundry and unpack after your holiday is enough to make you crave another holiday. Hmmm we are not sure you would be ready for another holiday just yet. Maybe a couple of hours on a beach alone with a Pina Colada in hand would be just enough to give you the energy to get those clothes whisked into ship shape and get back into the good ol’ daily routine.
These are only a few truths we learnt from travelling with the kids a couple of times in the last two years. I am sure we have a lot more to learn in the coming years! Any other tips are welcome, feel free to comment below 🙂
Dress, hat and polo shirt: Mayoral, Birkirkara.
Special thanks to Mayoral Malta and Artigli Girl Malta for the incredible outfits, Segue, The Point for the colourful luggages, M&J photo studio international for the magical photography, Gaia and Nina Blog for the fantastic collaboration and Butlers Malta for props and of course a huge thank you to our lovely kiddies, Gaia, Nina and Greg.
Like the Buzymummy FB page for more fun collaborations and tips.