Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Holidays - no, don't make me go!

With the school holidays coming up, we are planning on going away for most of the time and it got me thinking.  People often comment on how my kids are good travellers, and I think they are, but it takes a bit of planning and patience to make them that way.  I find that if I follow the following 'holiday rules', then it makes everyone's life a bit easier. 

Firstly, you just HAVE to stop every couple of hours for a stretch and a run around (and toilet break of course!).
Secondly, you have to take things in the car that they like playing with to keep them amused.
Thirdly, you have to make sure it's their holiday as well as yours.

These seem like such easy things to do, but even when we are aware that this is the way to go, even we forget and try to push the travel time out a bit, or wait another half hour before we stop to eat etc, and we pay the consequences of grumpy kids and grumpy us!

When choosing the toys etc that they are going to take in the car, I usually try and pick something that they love playing with each, as well as something either new or something they haven't seen/played with for a while.  I have even gone to the point of hiding a loved toy for a week or so before said holiday only to bring it out on the day we leave. 

Making sure it's their holiday as well as ours, really just means that sometimes you can just do things that the kids will like.  We often have a kids day, where we find the best playground in the area, or just choose other things that are for them.  Often we have found this to be the most enjoyable day, as the kids are happy and we don't have to drag them around.

In about 3 weeks, we are embarking on our two-yearly extended family holiday on a houseboat for 10 days.  This requires a 9 hour drive to get there (all day with kids).  This would strike fear into the hearts of most parents and I must admit I am employing all my tricks to try and ensure it's a reasonable trip and we don't drive one another completely mad in the process!  We are going to leave at some ridiculously early time in the morning in an attempt to get them to sleep for the first couple of hours.  Then we plan to stop and have breakfast when they are all awake (god forbid, probably at a McDonalds somewhere for the playground).  After this we can probably get a good couple of hours out of them before stopping for a quick run.  Another hour in the car and it will be lunch time.  After lunch, there will be only 3 hours to fill in with toys, singing, favourite toys, little boys sleeping again and we'll be there!  Sounds easy.  No, it's not easy to sing with your kids when you've been up since 4am and you just want to sleep, but it's better than telling them to be quiet every 2 seconds and trust me, everyone will be happier for the effort.

The only other advice I have for people when travelling with young kids, is 'If you can fit it in, pack it'.  We used to go camping when my youngest was about 4 months old, and I would pack anything I could fit including our plastic high chair!  That high chair has done some travelling.  You don't very often see a high chair at a camping site, but it was invaluable. It kept the baby out of the dirt, and was so much easier to have somewhere to just plonk him when we needed to.  It was usually the first thing out of the car, and the last thing packed in.

Hopefully happy holidays are in all our futures.


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