We have made it! Even though 2020 was probably not the year we had hoped it to be, we can look forward to some well-earned rest and relaxation soon. Although the rest we pictured is often the sipping on cocktails and kicking back with our favourite book. This is because when you have kids, r & r is never the same. The holiday season brings around travelling with kids and for many of us this can bring great anxiety and changes to routine that make it challenging.
We don't want you to stop holidays, cut them short or feel anxious towards them so we have provided some helpful tips and tricks to get you across understanding that we need to expect it won't always be the easiest holiday but the memories will be worth the journey.
The Days leading up to the trip
We are all creatures of habit, and the little ones are certainly no different. Most of us grownups have trouble sleeping while traveling as well as the first few days while we are on holiday, because well it is not the sanctuary of our own bed. The room they know and are familiar with for sleep time is suddenly different and change can shake the whole routine.
Here's how to manage change -
Make a checklist -
This will allow you to deal with the everyday norm while preparing them for the trip that lies ahead by making slight adjustments to their existing routine. Letting them know you are going away on xx day and talk to them about how excited you are and asking them things they want to take. If your little one is still quite young - jotting down on a list or your phone notes things you are utilising daily throughout the week to ensure you don't forget it!The to-do list will ensure that you group everything together, do the required laundry, and get the shopping done, all before traveling.
Establish a holiday routine -
Timezones and day light savings might alter your routine but remember you still need to have a break too so incorporate a slightly adjusted holiday routine which might include an earlier bed time for your little ones who are having big days and may be having little/none day time sleep too. If you can keep consistent with their day sleep in the first few days this will help to ensure the remainder of the week they pop into their holiday routine better.
Porta Cot -
If you are going to be making use of a Porta Cot while away on holiday, we recommend that you prepare them earlier to becoming familiar with the portacot! Let them sleep in the Porta Cot a few nights before you travel so they feel comfortable in this changed sleep space. They will love you for the lazy beach days, and bedtime should not be a nightmare. Their own bed will be their one sanctuary at the end of a busy day.
While flying might not be something you plan for this holiday season ahead or perhaps it is - be sure to track your flight to ensure its on time! Airport delays are something worth preparing yourself for. We can recommend the Flightradar app, which is the most popular of its sort at the moment and if a delay is on the schedule - pack the extra snacks, an extra game and creative play kit to keep your little one entertained and yourself calm!
Even though the airlines may feel that they are doing you a favour by allowing you to board first, bear in mind that this might not really be suitable since it means that the kids will have to spend even more time in a confined and restricted space. This goes the same for a car trip - kids in last! Pack the car the night before, final packing in the morning and kids in last so that you are off and away without delay!
While in Transit
The most taxing part of the journey and nemesis of many a parent is the often lengthy period of travel time involved. A car trip can be made longer with traffic delays and a plane flight too. The time from one place to another often see's you lose a day in total from the packing time, to the driving/flying, car journey and the unpacking. Your exhausted by the time you are there!
Here's how to manage the transit process with kids:
We label them - The Negotiators! And with good reason. Pack sufficient snacks that the whole family enjoys - especially the kids. This will keep them occupied during the traveling time and you bet they will ask for 'more' or their 'favourite' foods so be prepared for doubling up! Kids are hungry when bored. If flying - don't forget to pack some ear popping snacks - gum, bottles/dummy (if applicable).
Your future self will thank your past self for packing a few activities! As much as you want to cut down on 'what you bring'. There are a few exceptions with kids and this includes activities as a in car or on board #must. Don't feel guilty if this is an IPad either. It may also include colouring books, books to read, or a new toy! You can also create a great DIY activity pencil case and fill it with $2 toys from KMART and hand out a new pack before the journey begins to get them excited!If you are traveling by car, make a playlist of their favourite music to listen to in the car and think up games such as I spy with my little eye… to keep them engaged and less bored.
Traveling for a long stretch can be both boring and tiring for kids. Sitting in the same position for an extended time period can cause their bodies to ache. If possible, take regular breaks by stretching, walking around, or breaking for lunch at a stop where they can run around and play for a bit.
Different Time Zones -
If your upcoming holiday is taking you to a different time zone, try and keep the kids close to their original bedtime. You might have to let them take a nap during the day to enable them to stay awake longer. An alternative suggestion is to implement a bedtime of 6pm instead of 7pm instead of letting them sleep for 4-5 hours at 1pm. Don't put too much pressure on yourself though and if possible share the load with a partner, family or friend who may be travelling with you.
At the Holiday Destination
Finally, you have survived the trip and can now look forward to some quality family bonding time and some careless and free days. Here is a few Holiday Destination Tips & Tricks you can implement -
Bring Linen from Home
Your little one can be quite familiar to smells. It is often why they want you closer on holidays because your the familiar consistent in their changed environment. You can help to bring the familiar smells from home and take their linen, toys, and even white noise if needed. Anything to add some comfort to bed and night time that resonates with them.
Bed Time Tricks
Reiterating one of the primary ingredients to a successful night’s sleep while on holiday mode; have the kids go to bed as close as possible to their standard bedtime. I know it is a 'holiday' and you want to let them stay up a little longer or do a fun activity just one more time but sticking to consistency helps to avoid a challenging sleep time when already so much has changed for them they need some sort of routine to know what to expect.If your baby wakes up during the night, engage in low-stimulating activities such as soft music and books. Keep the environment as dark as possible - this will assist with the production of melatonin.Kids are masters at trying to negotiate to go to bed at a later time. Exercise a bit of leniency, but be aware that they will be pushing both boundaries and buttons - especially in the case of toddlers. Keep at it; it will only last a day or two. Once the holiday fun starts, they will be spent at the end of the day.
If your child wakes up early while on holidays, try and delay their morning feed to between 6:30am, and 7am. Their internal body clocks are set by factors such as food, social interaction, and light. Delaying feeding time will limit these stimulators.Keep at your regular morning routine by doing this from day one while on holiday. Prepare yourself that it will be a very early morning, but you will have to do your utmost to get through the day and then prepare for an early bedtime that evening. Luckily, we can advise that it will get easier as the days go by. This can be helped along by not responding too much to the early risers. It might be helpful by day three to schedule in dad, friend, family member to handle the early rising while you get an extra hour sleep!
The best last word of advice from us is to exercise patience and allow yourself to take a much-needed break as well. Utilise the community you are travelling with (husband, partner, friend, family or even a holiday nanny) and schedule break time for you too! An hour uninterrupted by the pool, a morning walk alone - it will make all the other changes to your holiday be easier to deal with. Understandably, it will take a few days of adjustment for the little ones to be adjusted and settled in. They might protest, and present a few challenges at times but remain calm, consistent and positive and they will feel your ease and eventually settle in.
Travelling with kids will take a little extra patience...
You've earned the right to this holiday too! Don't be scared of your new normal and don't resist the urge to book in fear of the challenges! You got this!
Read another one of our articles about 'What causes early rising' in children here.