In exactly four days, our family is embarking on our first big adventure as a foursome – a Disney cruise to the Bahamas. We are fortunate enough to join the entire family (20 people!) to celebrate Manfriend’s mom’s 70th birthday. I can’t wait to share photos and a recap of our experience.
Kara’s guest post below on successfully traveling with children could not have come at a better time. Kara has been on every cruise and adventurous getaway you could imagine. I’m grateful to have her tips below, and will certainly keep them in mind as we pack, fly across the country and cruise on the ship! Thanks for your insight, Kara!
Vacation. Has a nice ring to it, but what mother is ever really on vacation? Traveling with your children is often more work than going to work. But, hey, we do what we can to take care of those we love. One of the most dreaded portions of the trip is the layover: that chunk of time between flights when you have to get the whole family from one gate to another (sometimes even changing terminals) and keep everyone occupied until it’s time to get on another airplane. With a lot of planning and a little luck, however, you can make it through the layover like a champ.
When you pack your carry-on bags you’ll need some basic supplies:
- Pack easy to eat snacks to prevent low-blood sugar meltdowns.
- Don’t forget some new or fresh toys and activities. Try coloring books, download games to your tablet the kids haven’t played yet, a new small toy or action figure— whatever will keep your kids busy for a little while. Put the standard run of toys or activities in your child’s bag, but hold some back in yours.
- Toss in a pack of baby wipes or antibacterial hand wipes. Airports and airplanes can be dirty places and being able to do a quick clean up where you are instead of a big bathroom run will save your sanity.
Start with research. Once you’ve booked your flight, check out how long your layover will be. If it’s over an hour, you’ll need some activities to keep you busy. Head to the internet and find out more about the airport you’ll be stopping over at. Many major airports have play areas for kids. Phoenix Sky-Harbor has areas in a few different spots. Orlando has a saltwater aquarium in the food court— and arcade. San Francisco also has some aquatic creatures to look at, as well as several museum exhibits throughout the facility. Knowing where you’ll be and what you have at your disposal will reduce stress significantly.
Presumably, you’ll want to take advantage of early boarding for families with young children. In that case, be at your gate about half an hour before boarding is scheduled to start (that’s printed on your ticket). If you have items that will be gate checked, feel free to check with the gate agents, and make sure you don’t need any new tags. They can be your best friends, so be nice to them!
Plan for a big bathroom break before you board. If you had a long layover, usually about 20 minutes before boarding is sufficient. Once you’re at the gate waiting to board, this is a fantastic time to rearrange carry-on bags getting rid of any trash, and find all the things you’ll need to have at the ready. Be sure tickets are accessible, gum is ready for takeoff and any entertainment items are ready to use.
If you’re looking at 90 minutes or more to departure, it’s a great time to get away from the gate for a bit. Use that research you did to find a place for the kids to run off some excess energy, stop for a meal and sit somewhere more comfortable than cramped gate chairs. If you’ve settled in anywhere, take that time to charge your tablets, phones, e-readers and portable game systems. Outlets are hard to find and harder to get access to while you’re waiting at the gate, so if you find one— make use of it!
Don’t be afraid to grab a luggage cart for a long layover, the cost is low enough to be worth the sanity you’ll preserve by having bags on one cart.
What tips do you have for managing a layover with kids? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
-Guest post by Kara StevensPin It
I’ve been dedicating a bit more time to sewing, which is always good for my soul.
I’d had my eye on this Burda Style dress for some time (from the May 2011 issue), and I finally whipped it out this past October at scrapbooking camp (an entirely different story for a different post).
My version came out a wee bit too short so I decided to wear it as a shirt to our company holiday party. What do you think?
Our three year old is obsessed with Dora. If she could watch it every waking moment of the day, she would. She has a Dora princess dress, a Dora plush doll, a Dora doll on a horse . . . the list goes on.
Up until a few weeks ago, Manfriend and I did all of her haircuts. As evidenced by the way-too-short bangs and crooked ends, we’re not exactly professionals.
So when she asked to cut her hair short enough so “we could see her neck”, it was time to seek professional help. We coughed up $10.99 and headed over to the local Fantastic Sams. She even wore her Dora dress so the gal would know how to cut it. She kills me.
Decked in her Dora dress and looking more like her than ever before, she ran around town asking complete strangers if they loved her new look. Wouldn’t it be great to have that confidence?
A few days later, one of my friends surprised me.
“I can’t believe you let her do that,” she said.
Why wouldn’t we? It’s not like she was asking for a pony – it’s just hair!
Why is it so difficult for some parents to allow their children to make their own decisions?
It likely stems from the same reason a parent would take issue with their young daughter coming home with a tattoo and a shady boyfriend. It boils down to a loss, or perceived loss, of control.
Manfriend and I never talked about raising our daughter in an “accepting”environment, it just… happened. Likely because he and I share the same values and wish to raise our daughters to be independent, hardworking and compassionate gals. One of my favorite parenting books, Raising Happiness, talks a lot about open communication and teaching your children to be emotionally literate and confident.
I’m told I was as outgoing as my daughter as a child, but as I grew older I grew less confident of my abilities. Perhaps without my parents realizing it, they often criticized everything I did and how I did it. I grew to believe I wasn’t athletic, a terrible cook and too much of a dreamer. I’d like my daughters to grow up knowing they can and should try anything and do it to the best of their ability.
I tend to worry more than my partner, and I’ve come to accept that it’s my role in this family dynamic. I’m here to comfort, Dad is here to push our girls to their personal limits. I’m like this due in great part to what I mentioned above. My dear Mexican mother worries about everything. I learned how to do many things as an adult, including mountain bike, ski and run competitively. If I mention to my mother that I went on a mountain bike ride by myself, or completed a half marathon – instead of saying something supportive, she chastises me for putting myself in danger.
“Why did you ride alone in the mountains? Don’t you know a mountain lion could attack you?”
You can’t make this stuff up.
I don’t intend to react that way with my daughters.
While Manfriend and I often have to remind ourselves our daughter is only 3, we also don’t want to disrespect her in assuming she doesn’t understand what we’re talking about or can’t make her own decisions.
No, we won’t agree to a pony or ice cream for dinner simply because she asks politely, but we certainly won’t squash any of her dreams.
Certainly not over a Dora haircut.
This marked the second time in my life and our second time as a family cutting down our very own Christmas tree. As our girls get older, it’s that much more important to create holiday traditions and memories.
It’s one of the many things in becoming a parent that makes us appreciate what our parents did for us. Manfriend and I don’t have a ton of family traditions, which makes it that much more fun to create our own.
In our little family, on Christmas tree cutting day, we decorate the tree while playing the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. We end our night by watching the classic movie together.
What are some of your family holiday traditions?
I have this pinned at my desk, and it always makes me smile. You. are. welcome.Pin It