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Forefront families by Sally Burgess;Vacationing with kids...; www.forefrontfamilies.org

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Brian and Sally Burgess

Summer vacation time is here again.  If you plan to go on a trip, just remember that traveling long distances should be as much fun for your kids as it is for you.  Many times that is not the case.  Here are some things to consider.  Are you going somewhere where your kids will have fun, such as to the beach or to a theme park?  You can bet that a weeklong trip to see your old whiskery Aunt Tilly will not engender any enthusiasm in anyone but you, and even then it will probably be a stretch. 

Have you planned for weather changes?  What if it buckets down with rain for a week?  Have you got a plan B?  How are the kids going to fare cooped up in the car for the nine-hour drive?  Have you thought of things for them to do?  Do you think your three year old will sit still in an airplane for five hours?  What about other passengers sitting next to your family?  Here are some vacation tips.

Planning the trip:

a) Discuss a number of vacation options that include fun things for the kids to do.

b) Don’t tell your kids your plans until you are absolutely SURE nothing will stop you going – e.g. time off work or enough money to go.

c) About four weeks before the event tell the kids and, where possible, let them have input into the choice of vacation. 

d) If they get pocket money suggest they save some of it for spending money there. 

Taking the trip:

Remember that you are going on a vacation so rushed travel is no fun for anyone.  Make it leisurely.

a) Make sure the kids know your behavioral expectations for a FUN trip e.g. no arguing and fighting in the car, no touching stuff in stores and keeping close to parents at all times. 

b) Leave the work laptop and work cell phone at home.

c) Leave at a reasonable hour, and make sure everyone has a good breakfast.  d) Ensure you will all be comfortable in the car and check that everybody is belted in correctly and that you take a stroller for younger children.

e) Give your kids a little lunch pack (minimal candy) so they can graze along the way. 

f) Schedule regular pit stops and things to see. 

g) Watch fluid intake or the stops may become frustrating. 

h) Make sure that the kids get out and run around to expel some of their pent up excitement and energy. 

i) To alleviate the inevitable, “Are we there yet?” question every five minutes, give them a simple map so they can follow progress.  Remember that if you are getting sore and weary because of the travel, your kids will feel twice as bad.  If you are becoming frustrated, the kids will feel it, too, and the fun part will dissipate. 

j) Make sure that you have had a good sleep before you leave, especially if you may be the only one driving.

k) If you are traveling by plane, take little backpacks with fun things for the kids to do and eat.  Place these under the seat in front so you don’t have to keep fishing in the overhead bins.  Try to time it so your toddler is very tired or very alert so they either fall asleep or can be happily occupied during the travel.  As cabin pressure changes, ear pressure does also.  Make sure you have fluid for a small child to drink while the plane is ascending or descending.  Maybe sets of earplugs for use during the plane’s descent would be a good idea.  If your child starts playing up, crying or screaming, the earplugs could be handy to distribute to surrounding passengers!

I have often wondered why parents take children under 5-6 years old to big, expensive theme parks.  Small children can become totally over-stimulated and get tired and cranky very easily as parents ‘make the most’ of their day at one of these parks.  Think about what a child will remember long term and go on trips that are going to allow them to rest and sleep so that they can really enjoy themselves.  A miserable child makes those around them uncomfortable, too.

Vacations can be fabulous when we think ahead to make sure that our little people are appropriately catered for.  Happy travels this summer.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions on this subject, contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org, and visit our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com.

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