Summer break was once one of the most exciting times EVER! It was just a series of seemingly endless journeys led by our free spirits... Now that we're parents, though, we've passed those carefree days on to our kiddos. In summer, we can now expect to take on all kinds of fun parental roles including activity coordinator, lifeguard, chef, EMT, professional athlete, and/or (sometimes) prison warden. BUT, before you put on those various summertime hats, make sure you've read through our Summer Family Adventure Guide!
Any successful road trip requires more than just the "I Spy" game. Try these tips to keep everyone happy and healthy the whole way!
1. Get out of the car!
That's right! A successful road trip with kids involves ample breaks. Check out your route ahead of time and put some fun stops on the itinerary. Maybe a fifteen minute park session? Or how about a picture with the worlds largest ball of twine?
2. Don't skimp on the snacks!
Pack your own snacks, don't just rely on fast food to quell the rumbles of hungry tummies.
3. Activities, activities, activities.
Did I say that enough? Here's one for the road...ACTIVITIES! I'm talking iPads, and Kindles, and Play-N'-Gos, OH MY! Whether it's an audiobook, a gaming system, or a jam session to a Disney playlist you've heard a million times, you're going to want to be sure that you pack enough fun stuff to get you to your destination and back like seven times. If you have a set amount of media time for your children, check out the link below for....
4. Get comfy!
All of the excitement can get overwhelming, and there's no level of cranky like that of a nap-deprived kiddo. While many kids can just drop into sleep wherever, it's a far easier process when you've made sure they have some essentials like a child sized neck pillow, or their favorite blanket and stuffed animal.
5. Be safe.
Road trips are long, and usually pretty uneventful, but things can change quickly on the road. Make sure that you are geared up with things like roadside assistance, a spare tire, fans, flares, and a first aid kit. It's also important to remind all passengers, no matter how antsy, to always keep their seatbelts on! Also, parents, aside from handsfree calling, and GPS, put your phone away. No text or email is worth your life!
Camping isn't for everyone, but if it's up your family's alley, read on!
1. Dress appropriately!
Don't just plan for the daytime, plan for the night too-which, more than likely will be cold and/or wet. We recommend bringing spare clothes, and layers!
2. Come up with a safety plan!
Accidents can't always be avoided, but you can certainly plan ahead for several scenarios. When you're milling over the possibilities, plan for mild scenarios like common injuries or illnesses (bumps and bruises, bug bites, and various plant induced reactions or environmental allergens)-AND plan for severe scenarios like animal encounters and getting lost.
3. Store food and drink safely!
Protect your food and drink from big critters AND microscopic ones! Ensure that any perishables are kept at a safe temperature, and cooked thoroughly. Double check that your food storage container is heavy duty, and out of the way of hungry wildlife.
4. Embrace the outdoors.
Camping with kids is a great time to make the most of what nature has to offer, while also giving them some skills to take home. Try a hike and stop at any boards for an interactive, educational moment, take a canoe ride and teach your kids about teamwork, or start a scavenger hunt where the winner gets the first s'more!
5. Learn about fire safety.
This is VERY important, so we are deferring to the experts on this one...
Remember how it felt to see a baby, a group of toddlers, or frazzled children get on your plane? Well, if you're in the hot seat now, here is how to help yourself!
1. Eat BEFORE boarding.
Depending on the length of the flight, and where you're sitting, peanuts or pretzels may be all your little one is getting. Feel free to stock up on airplane snacks in the airport, but it may be more economical to just get a little something to eat beforehand. It's also one less thing to worry about on the flight itself.
2. Don't sacrifice comfort!
Yes, your little one is adorable in all of their little outfits, but an airplane is no time to show off the bells and whistles. Keep your kiddo comfortable, casual, and layered. Perhaps this is the time to whip out that tiny neck pillow too!
3. Schedule your flight during naptime.
If you can find one for your intended destination, a flight during your child's typical naptime is ideal. Despite the new surroundings, your kiddo's circadian rhythm will kick in and lull them off to sleep. If you can't find a naptime flight, or if you're on an international or other red-eye flight, try and wear your kids out before boarding (this would be a good time to see who can do the most jumping jacks).
4. Pick your seats strategically.
If your children need constant bathroom breaks, choose seats in the back of the plane (less aisle to disturb). If your kids each insist on bring their own carry-on with books and snacks, choose seats towards the front of your section (they typically have more leg room). If you are on a last-minute flight, or an airline that doesn't allow you to pick seats, call the airline ahead of time, or talk to your gate agent. Most airline companies are very accommodating to families because a calm, cool, collected kid means a peaceful flight for all!
5. Remember flying etiquette
Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the company of kids, and families have a pretty nasty reputation. To combat this negative stereotype, here are some starter "rules" for the sky!
Flight attendants are not babysitters
Other passenger's chairs/Other passengers are not toys
Playing around the cabin/Running up and down aisles is unsafe
Diapers are not to be changed on the tray table (yes, this happens...)
Sorry kiddos, no jumping on the bed...BUT, here's some other ways to make that family hotel stay a little less chaotic.
1. Kid/Baby Proof the room.
Bring things like outlet covers and corner foam pieces with you to keep your kids safe in their new digs!
After kid/baby proofing, unpack and organize your family's things. This will help you assess what you have, what you may need, and help your kids know where things are at for quick access. The last thing you want is for your four year old tearing through your luggage trying to locate her favorite hair bow.
3. Latch the door
Kids are curious and hotels are full of things to explore, some safe, and some not so safe. Latching the door will give you a failsafe should your kiddos decide to play Indiana Jones and the Country Inn and Suites.
4. Book a first-floor room
It's a pipe dream to think your children will just sit quietly while in the hotel room. Chances are there will be some freedom runs, a jump here or there, and maybe even a wrestling match. Nobody can hear/complain about these things if you're on the first floor! Just make sure the inside voices rule is in effect, and the walls are lava (no-touchy).
5. Try to avoid the hotel
Plan all-day activities ahead of time that keep your kids from being too cooped up in the hotel room, even if it's just a splash in the pool. No need to stick to a rigid itinerary, but just know your surroundings so that your children don't catch a bit of cabin fever. If you have to be in the hotel room for a longer chunk of time, check out...