The holidays are upon us, and pretty soon many of you will be packin’ up and headin’ out to visit extended family. Even though these times are meant to be magical and memorable, it can also be the hardest thing ever. It’s right up there with not sleeping for 5+ years, having permanent dark circles under your eyes, and trying to reason with a toddler who’s just been told he can’t put mittens on his feet. It will test your strength, both physical and emotional, it will test your relationship with your partner, and it will certainly test how much you love your children. If you can make it out alive with everyone still in one piece, congratulations. You’re goin’ places.
I’ve done my fair share of reading up on tips and tricks for traveling with kids because I like to at least pretend that I’m prepared. And let me tell ya. There are some good tips out there, and there are some crap ones. I recently read something that suggested “be sure to have fun and laugh with your kids.” Seriously, fool? You don’t think I long for the days when all I have to do is have fun and laugh with my kids while traveling? Get outta here.
Some of the decent tips (and I’m using the word ‘decent’ very lightly here) suggest things like: take your time getting to where your going (they obviously don’t know my husband and how CRAZY he is on making good time), don’t overstimulate your kids with too many activities, and let your children help plan what things you’re going to do. I pretty much have an argument for every single one of those, but whatever.
In the last few years I’ve learned that even though I pretty much dread traveling with my children, there are still some major ways to protect our sanity. Although on our last trip I did manage to shout at every person in the family, “WE ARE NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE AGAIN” until everyone was crying. But I’m getting better.
By the way, if you’re traveling with grandparents and they watch your kids and play with your kids for an extended chunk of time, you don’t need these tips. Because I don’t care what you say, you’re getting a vacation. But for all the parents who have to travel with your kids on a solo mission…this is for you.
TIP #1: Drink.
Seriously, the first chance you get, just start drinking. Flying on a plane? Drink. Riding in the car and making a pit stop for lunch? Drink. Lugging in all 1200 bags to your in-laws house? Drink. Trying to figure out what you need from the store? Drink. Dinner? Drink. Family outings? Drink. Sight-seeing? Ha! With kids? Drinnnnnk.
TIP #2: Buy them shit to keep them quiet.
I get it, Mamas. In your every day life you don’t want to raise entitled a-holes who get everything they want. You say no a lot when they ask you for ridiculous stuff. You don’t buy those cheap toys in the check-out line. You know it’s crap. But this is not the time to stick to your guns. Just buy that shit to avoid the whining and the incessant questions. And while you sit back and watch them play with it, have yourself another drink.
TIP #3: Feed them all the junk food.
We all want our kids to be well-nourished. That’s why we try so.damn.hard to get them to eat just ONE BITE of a green bean at dinner. But it’s really, really okay if they go the next seven days without as much as smelling a vegetable. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about all that when you get home. Just give them what they want to keep them from losing their minds, and while they’re stuffing their faces with amazing foods they’ve never had before, you know what you’re gonna do? Yep. Drink.
TIP #4: Wear them out during the day.
I know, I know. There’s a very valid tip that says not to over-stimulate your kids while traveling. It’s true that filling up the days does have a high potential of bringing on some serious melt-downs. But if you can swing it, the early bedtime will be worth it. Just think: you get those kids in bed by 6:30 or 7, and you still have a good three hours to drink enough so that the stress of the day wears off, and you’re still in bed by 10:00. This is actually one of the greatest perks of having kids.
TIP #5: Do what you wanna do too.
I know there’s that tip that I mentioned above about letting your kids help with planning some of the activities that you do. And yeah that’s all fine and good, but don’t you let them plan the whole damn trip. Think of something that YOU want to do and do it. Once you’re there, give them your phone or an iPad or whatever other screen you use to keep life calm, give them some more junk food, and enjoy yourself. And of course, have another stiff one for me.
I know we all just want everything to be happy and enjoyable so we can create good memories for our family. But at the end of the day, traveling is just another one of those times when we’re in full-fledged survival mode. So do what you gotta do so that you can enjoy yourself too. You deserve it. Because hey…
Ur a Mom Now.