Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Travel with Little Kids

Over the past weekend, we traveled to San Antonio.  I rode up with Ma-Mas on Saturday for a quick girls shopping trip, and David and the kids came up on Sunday to join me.  Subjecting a three-and-a-half-year-old and a 21-month-old to lots of sitting still in the car, a disrupted routine, later bedtimes, and over-stimulation can result in GRUMPY kids and therefore GRUMPY parents. (Which has happened PLENTY of times on previous trips.) Our trip this time was, for the most part, pleasant, fun, and relaxing.  We hit a few snags, but the general good experience left me pondering what exactly we did to accomplish a successful road trip with little kids.

1.  Snacks. I repeat. Snacks.
David, who traveled on Saturday outnumbered, brought lots of snacks.  He said he filled a bag full of cheese crackers, cereal bars, and fig newtons for the ride up.  When I reached into the snack bag later that day, I found it more than half way empty! Not only did the food occupy the kids, it kept them from getting too hungry i.e. GRUMPY.

2.  Stick to what they are used to.

Cooper and Penny both are used to a 2 to 3 hour nap everyday.  With all the running around, sticking to the exact nap routine wasn't possible, but we did what we could.  Penny thankfully took an hour (ish) nap in the car while we drove around, so one nap down.  When we checked into the hotel late in the afternoon, we divided and conquered.  Penny and I toured the hotel grounds while David and Cooper took a power nap. We were going to be visiting with family later and knew it could be a long night ahead.  Making the naps a priority kept the kids from getting too tired i.e. GRUMPY. 

3.  Ask the natives.
Instead of trying to plan the entire trip to a T, we relied on those we knew.  We visited Uncle Clint, who had great restaurant suggestions.  We ate at a casual, slightly noisy restaurant.  That fact proved valuable when Penny, whose current mode of expressing negative feelings is screaming, did just that.  She was hungry and angry about it, but her little screams didn't really play out to much over the din of the restaurant.  Also, this particular restaurant had quick and attentive service, which is vital to dining out with kids.  If we had relied on our own devices to find such a restaurant, we could have ended up at a stuffier place with bad service.  Forcing kids to sit still and quiet for a long time in a restaurant would have most definitely made them GRUMPY.

4.  Run around in their shoes.
Kids don't like to sit still for long and it is just plain inconsiderate to expect them to do it too much.   After lots of time in the car, we tried to find ways to incorporate running around time for the kids.  While Cooper took a nap in the hotel room, Penny ran all over the hotel court yard.  Before going to dinner, we visited some cousins and that gave the kids a chance to play for a while.  Afterward, we hung out at Uncle Clint's house, again, letting the kids go a little wild.  If the kids hadn't had a chance to blow off a little steam, they would have been GRUMPY.

5.  Chill.

I think the biggest step we took towards a smooth trip was the fact that we didn't get in a hurry.  I couldn't tell you what time it was when we went back to the hotel to sleep, what time we had breakfast, or what time it was when we arrived at the zoo.  It really didn't matter!  We just followed the flow of the day, which was a vacation in itself for the parents.  We weren't stressed, so the kids weren't stressed.  In other words, no one was GRUMPY.

So it wasn't an entirely harmonious trip...Penny felt like screaming for 30 minutes while driving to AND from San Antonio...We decided that only one hour of teeth clenching out of two solid days wasn't that bad, considering all we got to do:  Shop, see the sights, visit family, hang out with Uncle Clint, eat well, ride the train at Brackenridge Park, and visit the zoo.
(By the way, I didn't have a lot of pictures to choose from for this post, because I was enjoying the weekend so much, I sort of forgot about the camera.)


Andrea said...

too funny, we were in corpus last weekend while you were up here :).

Leslie said...

That is funny!