Tag: staying calm

No Drama, Mama: 5 Tips for Traveling with Kids

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Nobody wants to be the humiliated parent of the kid behaving badly on the plane, bus or train. But children can be dramatic and overly-emotional, quickly escalating minor issues into major meltdowns.

Even car trips contained to family-only can be a nightmare for all if one child is feeling surly, irritable or bored, turning what should be a fun car trip into a long and tedious “Are we there yet?” journey.

To help avoid this unpleasant situation, we’ve compiled 5 useful tips below to keep your kids engaged and happy during travel.

 

1. Entertainment is King—

When it comes to activities to keep children engaged and mentally stimulated, there is no such thing as over-packing. Bring books, games, cards, puzzles, art supplies, handheld video game devices with multiple sets of extra batteries, laptops, portable DVD players and anything else that might help.

If you can buy new items purchased specifically for the trip that kids haven’t yet seen, this is obviously a great way to add some extra amusement.

Not only will keeping kids entertained prevent them from growing bored and cranky, if they have moved into tantrum-mode for any reason, one of the things you’ve brought to entertain might be a great way to redirect them out of a fit.

 

2. Hungry Kids are Grumpy Kids—

Sometimes in the fast-paced schedule of travel, we don’t have time or forget to eat, but kids can’t wait for the final destination for food like adults sometimes have to: they need steady blood sugar levels.

To keep them from getting grouchy, pack plenty of snacks, including protein like nuts for long-term energy. Novel snacks they don’t normally have at home can help entertain as well as feed them.

If you’re road-tripping, keeping a cooler with healthy fruits, sandwiches and drinks in the trunk will also save you money on restaurant food.

 

3. Carry-Ons Count—

If traveling via plane, pack as light as you can to give yourself a break (you’re already dealing with children… you don’t need excessive luggage), and be sure to put a change of clothes for each child in your carry-on luggage, including toothbrushes and toothpaste for all.

Most importantly, include loveys, pacifiers, blankets, stuffed toys or irreplaceable items kids won’t be able to sleep without, just in case your checked baggage is lost.

In short: If you can’t buy it in a store upon reaching your destination, keep it in the carry-on. If a child won’t sleep without their teddy bear, nobody will be getting any sleep.

 

4. Hotel Wisely—

When making reservations, do your research and try to find kid-friendly hotels with free breakfasts, or those with restaurants nearby offering discounted or free meals for children.

Also, triple-check sleeping situations before you leave to ensure the hotel rooms you’ve booked have adequate arrangements waiting for your family, such as enough beds, or cots available if needed.

You’re going to be tired when you get where you’re going—and nobody wants to have to sleep on the floor because the hotel doesn’t have a suitable room available.

 

5. Be the Duck—

Unfortunately, other traveling passengers sometimes seem to have forgotten that they, too, were once emotionally immature kids, and unrealistically expect children to behave like tiny adults in public. This only places more pressure on parents, stressing them out until children feed off of this anxiety, making everything worse.

Like water off a duck’s back, let the judgmental stares roll off your psyche, and don’t let snide comments, heavy sighs or rolling-eyes from other people make you feel bad. The opinions of strangers lacking empathy shouldn’t matter to you.

Remember that most of the people around you who’ve parented a young child during a rough moment feel nothing but sympathy for you, and only wish they had a snack or a toy to offer.

 

We can’t take emotionally immature children and magically expect them to grow up during inconvenient moments, because we all had to learn to be the (usually) well-behaved adults we are while traveling. But we can find ways to distract, redirect and entertain our kids so they can be at their personal best… at least until we get to the privacy of our homes or hotel rooms.

Use the helpful tips above to make your time spent traveling with kids as drama-free and pleasant as possible.

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Have a Tantrum-Free Trip: 5 Top Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Crying Toddler Photo Credit Tanya Little (2)Photo credit: Tanya Little

 

Most parents of toddlers realize the idea of “The Terrible Twos” is a myth most likely created to give exhausted moms and dads hope that the wild mood swings and emotional volatility will magically disappear once their children turn three.

What parents of three and four-year-olds know is that this is unfortunately not always true: sometimes all young children are capable of having a meltdown — especially during the uncertain, hectic and sometimes tedious experience of family travel.

 

Below are 5 top tips for tantrum-free travel with toddlers:

 

1. Mental Prep Makes Kids Mellow —

Establishing a routine is soothing for children, and one of the most upsetting things for them is straying from the schedule to which they’ve grown accustomed.

To keep the emotional turbulence out of your trip, prepare kids for change by talking about what to expect from the journey. Explaining the details ahead of time can prevent a meltdown caused by uncertainty and confusion.

Books and movies that discuss forms of travel can also be helpful for quelling fear of the unknown by showing kids what lies ahead.

 

2. The Early Bird Catches the Calm—

When flying with young children, it’s especially important to arrive early to the airport. If you’re anxious, your kids will feed off of your nervous energy, until your group has become a big ball of familial stress.

Print boarding passes before you get to the airport if possible, and get through security and settled into your waiting gate area with plenty of time. This will keep the entire family calm and cheerful, and allow kids a chance to exercise by exploring the airport before having to sit still for hours.

 

3. Entertainment is Everything—

Toddlers are not tiny adults, and lack the emotional maturity to be able to sit still for long periods of time without entertainment. Kids acting out because they’re bored aren’t being “bad,” they’re simply being kids.

By properly preparing to keep children engaged, outbursts over being confined can be completely negated. Activities without small pieces to fall on dirty floors, books, magazines, handheld videogames, portable DVD players and the novelty of your usually-off-limits cell phone can all be great ways to keep kids busy.

Remember to bring extra batteries and headphones, and charge all technology ahead of time. Non-sugary snacks like pretzels, popcorn and crackers can also entertain while keeping blood sugar levels even — and don’t forget to bring plenty of wet wipes.

 

4. It’s Potty Time—

Even adults can have trouble holding it during “please stay seated” moments of air travel, or stretches of land travel without restrooms, so recently potty-trained little ones can be very impacted by this loss of freedom.

Anytime the seatbelt sign on a plane turns off is a good time to take a toddler to use the restroom. Even if they don’t need to go, just getting up to walk the aisles can be a great way to get exercise.

If traveling by car, take advantage of rest stops to allow kids to use the bathroom and run around in safe areas, and always bring extra clothes in case of spills or accidents.

 

5. Positive Presentation—

A friendly attitude will get you everywhere when traveling with toddlers. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many parents and grandparents of other children will want to help make your trip stress-free, and may assist in surprising ways if you seem approachable.

Dress yourself and children in clean, nice clothing, and even if your child is having a poor behavioral moment, try to stay chipper. It’s hard when you’re feeling embarrassed and self-conscious, but if you become grumpy yourself, it will only make things worse.

Remember that if your child is throwing a fit, it’s not a reflection of your parenting skills; it’s simply a child having an age-appropriate moment. Anyone with children understands this, and those who don’t will get it someday if they decide to have kids. Take deep breaths and stay calm, even if your toddler is upset.

 

Common tantrum triggers like being placed into unknown surroundings, and situations that involve long periods of restraint are necessary parts of traveling long distances with kids, making it extremely important to be prepared. With the tantrum-averting tips above in your parenting arsenal, you can make any trip stress-free for your toddlers, yourselves and the other travelers around you.

Extinguishing Road Rage: 5 Ways to Chill When You’re Feeling Hotheaded

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Ugh. Are we there yet?

There are some seriously bad drivers out there. The person who pulls out in front of you, forcing you to jam your foot on the brake. The texting driver who crosses the line, making you slow down to avoid a head-on collision. The person who lazily left-turns into your lane rather than the designated one. There are so many bad drivers on the road that it can often make a person feel like they’re trapped in a videogame.

The devolution of driving skills may be happening as driver’s education classes are no longer taught in school, and because there is more technology to distract us than ever before. Or it may simply be that there will always be drivers who don’t understand the basic rules of the road. Clearly, no matter what the cause, defensive driving will continue to be more important than ever.

One thing is for certain, however: getting angry and losing one’s temper never diminishes a bad situation, no matter how satisfying it feels in the moment. We know from news stories that people can take road rage too far. Many have pointlessly died because rather than moving on, they were infuriated by another’s poor driving, and reacted in a dangerous manner.

Below are 5 ways to hopefully help you keep your cool in the middle of a heated driving moment:

1. To Err is Human; To Forgive, Drive-ine—

One of the quickest ways to not allow the bad motor maneuver of another person to ruin your day (or even your next ten minutes), is to remember that everybody makes mistakes. Yes, even you. Remember those “Pobody’s Nerfect” T-shirts kids wore back in the day? Truth, baby. Truth.

Rather than screaming at the person who just did a dumb driving move, maybe think about the times you didn’t perform at your best. Also keep in mind that next time, you might be the one who spaces out at the green light, or almost pulls into an occupied lane, etcetera. It happens. We’re flawed. We screw up. And that’s… okay.

So instead of feeling furious, try to feel humanity. If it boosts your ego to know that you’re a better driver than that yahoo you see making mistakes, then go with that, too. Whatever helps keep you calm in the face of another person’s failure is fine. Your blood pressure will thank you.

2. Care for the Cars—

Driving skills suffer when we’re going through a rough patch. Ever noticed someone crying in traffic, or an elderly person struggling to maintain independence? Driving through tears or cataracts is tough, and many don’t have anyone in their lives to help. That’s really sad, and if you honk or yell, you’re only making life worse for them. Not worth it, and not nice.

When you get behind a person driving poorly for no apparent reason, it can be frustrating, so kindly thinking of potential reasons for their performance might help. Maybe they just got dumped, or fired from a job. Maybe they don’t feel good, or are having an anxiety attack, and it’s all they can do to get to wherever they’re headed. Maybe they’re even headed to the doctor.

The fact is, we never know what another person is dealing with, and if we can focus on that fact, it may help us be less annoyed by bad behavior in any situation.

On the road, these types of compassionate thoughts can help us remember there’s a person driving the vehicle—however poorly—and perhaps not feel so furious.

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Don’t forget there’s a human being with friends, family, and feelings behind the wheel of every car.

3. Zen Out— 

As a lead-foot living in a state where everybody seems to drive 10 MPH under the speed limit, often while blocking the left lane, rather than keeping to the right, I’ve had to learn some coping mechanisms (beyond the one where I pretend I’m part of a parade, I mean).

One helpful mental device I use is to decide that the universe has me exactly where it wants me. I know it sounds a bit hippie, but it helps to think that maybe—as I creep along the road behind someone who apparently has nowhere to be, ever—just maybe I’m being held in place for a reason.

This is where I’m supposed to be right now, I might think to myself, as I repress the urge to honk at the double lane-blockers. Sometimes I’ll even go full Sliding Doors and imagine the accident I would have gotten into had I been 5 minutes further down the road. (Thank you, slow, seemingly oblivious people, for protecting me from danger!)

It sounds silly, for sure, but this thought process has helped me not sweat the small stuff. Because ultimately, unless you’re trying to get an organ to its transplant recipient or something else very serious, driving from point A to point B almost always qualifies as small stuff.

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Traffic jams are frustrating, for sure. They aren’t, however, life or death situations. This too shall pass.

4. Cancel the Confrontation—

Glaring at a driver you feel has wronged you, or flipping them the finger might feel good in the moment, but we all know this confrontational approach can have harmful results.

Lots of folks are stubborn, and have tempers; yet some are worse than others. Many involved in road rage incidents have described a “black-out” type of fury where they felt out of control, as if on auto-pilot.

The problem with confrontation is that you have no idea with whom you’re engaging, and if they’re the kind of person who lets anger overcome their common sense, you might not survive what you thought was only an argument.

Be the bigger person and try not to start something that might end up ending your existence, rather than proving a point. Nobody listens well when they’re really mad anyhow, so try to let annoyances go and wish them peace on their journey instead. Chances are, they need it more than you do.

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This guy is having a bad day. You don’t have to hug him, but engaging with him might be a bad idea.

5. Take the Time—

Guess what part of being a grown-up entails? Managing your time well. And guess whose fault it is if you’re late for work or an appointment? Yours.

It sucks, right? But if being consistently late is an issue for you, or traffic is unreliable on your commute, this can be incredibly stressful. And stress is bad for you. So rather than letting lateness send you into daily hypertension because the people on the road won’t move fast enough, why not leave early instead?

Get on the road fifteen to twenty minutes earlier than you normally need, find some good tunes, podcasts, or audio books for your car, and decide to enjoy the leisurely pace rather than rushing, cursing, and fretting all the way there.

Life is too short for road anxiety. Slow down, use hands-free entertainment to focus on something pleasant in the car, and most importantly, give yourself extra time so you won’t be mad at other people for something you absolutely can control.

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I can’t manage my time because I’m too young to understand clocks. What’s your excuse? 

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Every motorist has moments when they’d like to have harsh words with another driver. It’s completely normal to feel upset when someone puts your well-being at risk.

But two wrongs don’t make a right, so if you can possibly use the above techniques to keep your cool, you might feel better about yourself once you calm down and realize you rose above the obvious reaction. Because you know from experience that being the bigger person always feels better in the long run, don’t you?

Happy and safe travels to you.