On a recent road trip to Kerrville, Texas we planned to hang out with old friends. We were so excited to all have girls around the same age that would be able to hangout and play all day together. The four-hour drive can be exhausting so we decided to leave after my husband got off work so that we were traveling at night. I gave the kids a bath some light snacks and put them in their pajamas. They slept 75% of the trip and we were thrilled! The ride back was not near as peaceful, the girls did not nap and we hit a heavy amount of traffic. We expected this as it was spring break. We decided to pull over for dinner and let the traffic subside. Things will not always be perfect but you need to know when to take a break and just enjoy the ride the best you can. We are not expert travelers and things are more manageable for us since our girls are older, but we still hit a few snags. We are learning to deal with them better with each experience. Learning from our mistakes sometimes the only way to grow.
tip #1: Manage your Expectations
With children I have to manage my expectations and the expectations of my children. Honestly if we can make it from point A to point B all in one piece I am thankful, happy and grateful. My children were absolutely beside themselves about going to see our friends in Kerrville, Texas. They knew there was a pool and they knew they wanted to jump in. I on the other hand wanted to make sure that they did not get upset if the weather or pool temperature did not cooperate. If I promise my children that we are going to go swimming….. by golly I better find a pool. On this past trip to Kerrville, I was aware that the weather was going to be a bit cooler that normal. I also know that most bodies of waters are ALOT cooler in March as opposed to August. When they asked if they were going to get to go swimming I wanted to be careful with my reply. Yes girls I will pack your suits if the weather allows us to swim. It might not be warm enough to swim and the water will be really cold. My four and six-year-old knew without a doubt they were going to jump in. The weather cooperated, the daddies jumped in and their little ducklings cautiously followed. We laughed looking at the pictures, the kids were all geared up with goggles and floats and not a one had wet hair. They lasted all of 10 minutes and could be found laying poolside wrapped in a towel enjoying snacks.
tip #2: Maintain your Normal at Home Schedule
Obviously you want to enjoy as much as you can while you are away from home. I have learned that all children are different and my kid may need more rest that the next. That being said…. If we have long hikes the next day, I would encourage a normal bedtime the night before. It may seem like you should “enjoy the moment” since the kids have not seen their kids and you just want them to absorb as much of everything. But you are not going to be enjoying the moment near as much if you had gone to bed early, woke up and had a good breakfast and had time to gather all needed supplies for your next adventure. I stayed up WAY later that what I should have, but I also set my alarm to get up and prepare snacks, extra clothes and breakfast for everyone. If you set yourself up for success you are more likely to achieve it. Now the last day of vacation, I let my kids stay up as long as they like because I also know that they fall asleep in the car easily…. well most of the time.
tip #3: Stay Positive and Keep Moving
Things are not always going to be peaches and roses, you will not escape tantrum and meltdowns. When you finally pick yourself up off the floor remember that you are in control of the situation and by maintaining a positive mental state you will stay in control. I seem to lose my cool the easiest when we are not in our normal environment and I have to ask myself… Why is that? Did I drink enough water? Dehydration causes headaches and mood swings. Did I eat and was it semi-healthy? When your blood-sugar is low you are no at your optimal functioning capacity. Poor digestion can also slow you down and make you grumpy Did I get enough rest and exercise? I stay up way too late, drink way too much and allow myself to “have a day off.” I get it, exercise and dieting can be the least from your mind on vacation, but having that time for yourself, especially at the beginning of the day can make all the difference. Sometimes when I am bogged down in a bad attitude and cannot seem to crawl out, I immediately do a physical activity whether its a walk, a few yoga moves or racing the kids to the trampoline, I move! The fastest way to change your mental state is to change your physical state.
I enjoy traveling with my family so much and I am learning especially since having small children, that you can over plan and over expect a trip to death. our family loves spontaneous trips to the beach, an impromptu play date or dinner in the park. I love to socialize and be on the go. There was a time that if my plans did not go exactly how I envisioned or expected, I would completely lose it. I would melt down like a toddler and go into a downward spiral of negativity. I became so mentally defeated that it ruined the whole trip. I have realized that I am the only one in control of my thoughts, actions and attitude. As long as I can maintain a level of calm and control I can change any situation for the better. Thankfully my husband is my better half and is more calm and control than I. He teaches me how to be a better spouse and parent each day.
A list of things that help us get through long road-trips:
- Planned rest-stops with parks
- Ready to go snacks
- Coloring books and simple activities
- Family Road Trip Games (The cloud game and Car color spy)
- Music- Kid Songs and Family Car-aoke
- iPad (we only have one and they are timed so they can share)
- Leaving at night or very early morning so that they can sleep most of the way
These tips may not work for everyone and we are all a work in progress. I hope they help and your able to enjoy the next trip with your family. Here are a few more pictures and a video of our entire trip to Kerrville, Texas for spring break. Check out my full blog post of our trip with videos and pictures here.