Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Traveling with an infant and/or toddler

... specifically, flying with an infant or toddler.....

I've flown with 7 of my 8 children as infants, most of them many times.  Flying is not my favorite way to go.  I mean, trying to sit in a cramped space among 100+ strangers for a few hours is not fun as it is, throwing a infant or toddler into the mix just makes it worse.  I'd rather drive, but sometimes that is just not the best way to go.  There are some ways to make the trip more enjoyable and to help your little one enjoy themselves as well.

Here are some of my favorite tips-

1) SNACKS- The right snacks can make a huge difference in anyones day.  Packing simple, yummy snacks for your little one can not only fill their little bellies, but can also provide some great entertainment for them.  My kids love the Puff type snacks and the Yogurt Drops (even my 12 year old).  Several brands make them and some even have gluten free and/or dairy free versions.  If these are a rare treat for your child they may be very excited when you pull them out.  If you only put one or two out at a time there will be less mess and they tend to stay contentedly occupied longer.  These are my first choice for travel snacks for any littles able to eat finger foods.  Baby food pouches are also a big hit since you don't need a spoon, and can get some healthy food in your little one.  *Make sure you've introduced each of these before you offer them on the airplane.  You don't want to find that your child has an allergy up in the air, or is just a super messy pouch eater.

2)EXTRAS- You never know when you may be delayed in your travel plans.  I always pack twice as many diapers, wipes, snacks, and outfits as I think I'll need.  You just never know and running out of those things can really be a bummer.

3) GEAR-  The kind of gear you bring with you on the plane or even just into the airport can make a difference.  Sometimes I just check the car seat and/or stroller and wear baby.  Other times I check those things at the gate because they are so handy to have when I'm traveling by myself with multiple children.  It just depends on how long and complicated our travel day looks like it will be and what will be waiting for us at the other end.

4) ENTERTAINMENT-  A few simple, well chosen things like a toy, book, and blanket are really all you need especially if it's not supposed to be a very long day.  A favorite blanket can add security and comfort to your day, but also make a great game of peek-a-boo.  A couple of well liked toys that have been put away for a week or so generally do the trick, same with books.  While I'm not big on screen time; I do make sure I've got a couple of favorite shows loaded on my iPhone/iPad.  This can be the perfect solution for a little one who just thinks they are DONE with the travel day (and mommy and daddy are tired too).  My favorites are Signing Time and Barney.  While the big purple guy does not have a big following in our house, he has never failed to capture the attention of any of my children.  Signing time is a big favorite around here, it has really been helping in making communication connections.

5) THE DESTINATION- Think through your destination.   How long will you be there?  What are you doing there?  What will the weather be like?  Is it a child friendly destination?  Think through these things and pack accordingly.  If your host or hostess is asking about your child's needs and is offering to help; take them up on that help!  They likely understand how hard it can be to travel with a little one and would like to make life easier on you.

6)PREPARE- Along with the obvious preparations of packing the right things there are other ways to prepare.  Making sure your little one will be well rested for the trip is HUGE.  If baby is getting on the plane tired, stressed and edgy the trip is less likely to go well.  Take the time to think through what needs to be done before the trip and do that early.  Plan for some quiet days at home before taking off.  Talk to your little one about what is about to happen.  Simple statements like "We're going to visit the cousins at their house!" or "tomorrow we get to go fly on an airplane!" and showing pictures of the people and places you will visit help your little one understand what is about to happen.  Your calm excitement will (likely) transfer to your child.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving prep- making the day a restful one

I love Thanksgiving!  I love that it is a time to refocus on how very much we've been blessed.  I love that there really is so little commercialization of the holiday and no gifts to buy.  It's just a day to spend with friends and family counting our blessings and enjoying some great food and fellowship.  I like to make the day even more enjoyable by preparing in advance so there really is very little to do on the big day.
I made a set of finger puppets for the kids.  They will love playing with them quietly in church.  If only I'd finished them earlier in the month as planned. :) 

I thought I'd share some of the things I do to simplify the day, and then I thought to look at my archives to see if I'd already done that.  Sure enough I had, and not much has changed in the last 4 years or so.  Follow this link for my Thanksgiving Prep.

Seasonal paper plates/napkins and plastic utensils will be enjoyable (and simple) to use with all of our leftovers, making the week-end even easier.  

What do you do to make the day stress free (or less stressful)?  I'd love to hear your tips .