We are going on a holiday to Sweden at the end of the year. It will be our first long trip with the kids and our first winter trip too! I have started to plan much ahead on the things to buy and the activities to do with the kids. Be prepared will definitely be the most important step to travel with young kids. Besides having a super long “Things to bring” list, a “What to pack for car trip”, a “What to pack in snack bags” and “What activities to do” lists, one important ingredient to a fun and stress-free trip is the right mindset.
1) Set realistic goals!
We are travelling with 2 kids and grandparents to this trip. So the foremost consideration is not to overburden the trip with an overly packed itinerary. Have backup plans if possible. Go slow on the schedule and have ample time to enjoy the trip, rather than rushing places, touch and go.
2) Be flexible!
One of the best advice that I have read somewhere is to be FLEXIBLE. Unexpected occurences may happen along the way, delaying your plan. You have to be prepared for such hiccups, especially with young children. What were you to do if your car break down and has to be towed to the garage for repair, and you are facing 2 hungry and restless kids? Hence, we must always have some snacks, games and impromptu ideas to engage our kids and keep ourselves sane! Of course, we must not forget to maintain a calm and positive attitude. Getting frustrated with the delay is not helping at all. Once we keep our composure, our calmness will rub off on our kids too.
Also, I have learnt not to be too harped on maintaining sleeping, eating routines once we are on holiday.
The kids get to sleep late, past midnight, get to indulge in choc, sweets, get to skip that toothbrushing for one night, etc. All these with the consideration that such indulgence will not adversely affect the kids well-being significantly.
3) Prep-talk to your kids
I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this is. Giving my kids prep-talk whenever we do something new or go somewhere new always help the kids to understand what sort of behaviour is expected of them. Once they know what to expect and how they should or should not behave, they usually will tend to perform within your rules and expectations. For instance, it is important to tell them upfront about the unknowns of travelling to foreign places, and the dangers of playing hide and seek in public.
4) Do not worry that your kids are not eating enough
I always wonder why my kids are not tempted to good food as much as I am. I believe my kids just belong to the unadventurous type when it comes to food, or at least for now. Hence, when we travel, they tend not to eat as much as we do and in the end, they come home with a couple of kilos shed off. There are 2 ways to deal with this. One is not to let them snack too much along the way so that they will be hungry enough for proper meals. The other, is to stock up more on snacks and milk so that they will still get some food throughout the day even though they may eat little during meals. I belong to the latter group. Hard to convince even myself, but the truth is that the kids will catch back on their weight once they are back on their usual routine after the trip. Thus, there is no need to get all frustrated during meal times if they are not eating enough.
5) Remember the purpose of the holiday
Ultimately, what is the purpose of a holiday? To enjoy a special off-routine time with your family, isn’t it?
So, do not get into the nitty-gritty details and demands on your kids. They are going to have fun and so are you! You are not a baby-sitter to tag along, you are the coordinator, the fun-maker, the teacher, the tour guide to your kids!
After all, our main purpose of a family holiday is to enjoy family time together right?