Travels Tips from Kiddie Academy Parents
Sharing experiences is often the best way to learn. With this being a time of year when so many people are traveling, we recently asked our Kiddie Academy corporate colleagues to share their experiences of lessons learned from traveling with their children. Here are their tips to help make your trips more enjoyable:
Pretend Play Your Trip in Advance
When we first planned on flying with our daughter, who was then 1 or 2 years old, we spent the weeks leading up to the trip playing a game to get her used to what was going to happen on the airplane.
To play “Airplane,” we would line up our four dining room chairs in single-file row, all facing the same direction. We would each have a bag or backpack and we setup the toy grocery cart with imaginary snacks and drinks. We would alternate who played flight attendant. The passengers would board the plane, find their seat with their “ticket,” stow their bag below the seat and start reading a book. Then the flight attendant would make announcements, stop by to check on the seat belts, etc. We would have a snack and juice time, courtesy of the flight attendant, then take a rest in our seats. We would land and deboard the plane before going to our next thing.
We later did this with our son. Both loved this game and “played” it in real time. They were comfortable in the situation knowing a little bit more about what to expect. And it gave everyone something new and exciting to look forward to in advance of the trip.
–Andy Seguin, Director of Digital Marketing and dad of Shannon (10) and Adam (2)
When It Comes to Car Travel, Waste Not, Want Not
When our son was in a rear-facing car seat, he would get carsick on long drives and throw up. We’d have to stop wherever we were and do a complete clean-up and outfit change. But if he got sick on the car seat padding, there wasn’t much we could do on the side of the highway.
After this happened once or twice, my car was in a fender bender. (Thankfully, no one was hurt and my son wasn’t in the car.) Experts recommend you dispose of car seats after any kind of accident. But before we tossed the car seat, we stripped it of all the padding. Then, we bought the exact same car seat to replace it. Whenever we go on long car trips, we pack the replacement padding—just in case he gets sick again—so we can switch out the messy padding with the clean and be on our way.
–Jen Kee, Associate Director of Content and mom of Ben (4) and Juliet (2)
Surviving Your First Family Camping Trip
When I was a kid, we went on the same camping trip—to the same mountain, same cabin, same EVERYTHING for almost 10 straight years. For first-time campers, I recommend to always pick the campsite closest to the bathhouse. That way, when your kids need to go in the middle of the night, you have less of a chance of running into a family of skunks while traipsing through the wilderness (an actual true story).
–Stacey Brown, Pre-Opening Enrollment Manager and mom of Abby (6) and Norah (6 months)
A Word of Warning About Changing Time Zones
We had a layover in Chicago during our cross-country flight between Phoenix and Baltimore. My 18-month-old was a little grumpy, so I took him on a walk around the airport to kill some time and calm him down. The next thing I knew, they were calling my name over the loud speaker. I took my phone out of my purse and saw that my husband had texted me “Where are you?? They are about to close the gate!” My watch said I still had plenty of time – but then I realized, we were then in Central Time and it was actually an hour later than I thought – and suddenly we were VERY late. We raced across the terminal and boarded the plane in the nick of time! So much for trying to calm down!
Lesson Learned: Make sure you take your phone and smartwatch out of Airplane Mode during layovers – they won’t update to the new local time unless they connect with the network.
–Heather Davis, Director of Marketing and mom of Ella (7) and Campbell (4)
Use Travel as a Teaching Tool
In August of 2017 my husband and I decided to end a thirteen-year marriage on good terms. I did not know how I was going to explain this change to my daughter, but I knew I wanted the change to be looked at as a triumph and communicate a lesson that was both positive and memorable. So off we went to New York City to see the Fearless Girl statue.
Angelina and I spoke at great length about why it’s important for women to be strong and caring, and, more importantly, leaders. On our way to lunch, she asked lots of questions about the statue and if she could take a picture with it. I reminded her that the statue symbolized workplace gender diversity. But to me it also represents stepping up when a situation calls for true leadership and you have the skills necessary to get the job done. The plate under the statue says, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”
My daughter makes a difference in my life every day. SHE is the reason why I choose to be happy. I would love to believe that I led us through a situation that could have been traumatic, but instead SHE led our family to triumph. Of all the pictures we took in New York, this one is her favorite.
Every day offers us the ability to teach a lesson and grow at the same time. Make the most of it.
–Sheena Robertson, Director of Education Quality and mom to Angelina (14)
Be Creative with Sleeping Arrangements
When we stayed in a beach house with a few other families, our family of three had to share one bedroom. My son had difficulty sleeping through the night—not only was it a new place to him, but he could easily see us in bed from his pack-and-play on the other side of the room. He would wake up, stand and cry for us. Finally, we moved the pack-and-play to the large walk-in closet in our room. The floor was carpeted, so if he tried to escape, he wouldn’t fall to a hard surface, and we made sure he couldn’t reach and grab anything that was hanging in the closet. He slept so much better in a dark, quiet room where he couldn’t see us! We had to get over the idea of putting our kid in a closet and viewed it as giving him a quiet, dark and safe place to sleep instead. We all had more fun on vacation because we were all well-rested.
–Val Brown, Marketing Manager and mom of Trevor (4)
Don’t Forget Clothes
Seems obvious doesn’t it? Yeah, we thought so, too. All three of our kids are grown now, but when they were little, at least once with each of them, we arrived at our destination to discover that we had forgotten either an entire suitcase or shoes. Fortunately, in all cases, we hadn’t traveled anywhere so remote that there wasn’t some sort of all-purpose store nearby where we could buy a temporary wardrobe and/or footwear. However, going shopping with a barefoot or pajama-clad kid always made us feel like bad parents.
The eventual solution was easy. Before departing, we asked each child if they were sure they brought 1) clothes and 2) shoes. If they replied “yes,” then we asked again in 15 minutes. If they responded “yes” again, then we checked for ourselves. If we laid eyes on the items, then it was safe to leave.
–Steve Sullivan, Copywriter and dad of Courtland, Flannery and Moira
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