When you plan a trip for six months, the pressure to get it right can feel overwhelming.
Add in a trip with kids where you’re spending thousands of dollars to what’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth and the fact that you tend to over think everything. And it can start to feel like you’re planning your wedding all over again.
A friend asked me if I felt like my families’ happiness was on my shoulders and it was like she was reading my thoughts. Except she isn’t a fortune teller. She’s just a mom who has planned a Disney trip or two.
I spent the week or two prior to our trip feeling almost frozen. All of the pressure had gotten to me.
The pressure that I had put on myself. My kids have only been to Disney once and they were only four and one. So really they had nothing to compare this trip to. They didn’t know how many or what kind of rides to expect.
Even still I had overwhelming anxiety about our trip. I started having anxiety about my anxiety. This wasn’t really something new to me, but this time it felt like it was never going to pass.
My anxiety had me fooled into thinking that I’d be too anxious to enjoy Disney World.
What has the world come to that moms are spending their time worrying about whether or not their family will have fun on vacation? It’s not that I didn’t have anything else to do. I just couldn’t get these bad thoughts out of my mind.
Thankfully once we set out to drive to Florida, all of that did fade away. It was like Disney was somehow already working it’s magic on me.
Am I the only one who has experienced this roller coaster of emotions? Please tell me I’m not alone.
Stay tuned next week for tips on surviving Disney World with kids.
There are many types of personality tests out there. You may have heard the word Enneagram buzzing around, but I think it’s more than just a new trend. Knowing your child’s personality can be the key to helping you parent and to having a happier family.
If you can understand why someone is doing what they’re doing or not doing it can help you respond in a way that is more likely to make that person feel heard and understood. What parent doesn’t want to have that kind of connection with their child?
I’m not saying that you don’t know your child if you haven’t done a personality test on them. In fact you probably can predict how they will respond to any given scenario nine times out of ten. But do you know why they would respond that way? I’m talking more than understanding if your child is stubborn or easy going. More than if they are outgoing or shy.
Which Animal Are You?
A few months ago, my son came home from school excited to tell me about his day. This is kind of a big deal. Usually when I ask how his day was his response is minimal. I’m lucky to get more than something like, “it was good,” so I was eager to hear more. But as someone who studied psychology, he really started speaking my language when he told me that he took a personality test at school.
He wanted me to take the test too and had extra so that everyone in our family could take it. That night he kept bugging me to take it until I finally did.
Then when I told him my results he just said, “Ok” and walked away. Apparently he wasn’t asking us to take the test because it was for an assignment or homework. He was genuinely curious to know. This was the point that I realized my nine year old is starting to grow up. Maybe he wanted to know what our personality type was because he wanted to understand us better.
The test that we took was The Five Minute Personality Test. It tells you which animal you are most like. When my son told me which animal he was, it made so much sense to me. It has given me more awareness of why he is the way he is. Now when I start to feel frustrated, I remember that he isn’t trying to be difficult, he’s just responding because of the way he thinks about the world. It’s who God made him to be.
Knowing your child’s personality type doesn’t mean you have to change the way you parent completely. Of course if we could all wave a magic wand and know the right way to respond to our children in any situation that would be ideal. But that’s not really realistic. I think just being aware of what your child’s personality type is and noticing when it starts to come out is key.
When people can really stop to think about where others are coming from and truly empathize that is when relationships can thrive. It takes emotional maturity and effort to do, but just reading this post is a start.
4 Types of Personality Tests
I encourage you to take one of the tests listed below and see if you can better understand who your child or even your spouse is.
Maybe next time you have an interaction with them you will remember reading this and simply pause for a brief moment to consider their point of view. Not only how they think about the situation, but how God made them to think about the situation and that he purposely made that to be different than he made you to think about it.
The official RHETI can be purchased at The Enneagram Institute for $12. You’ll get a thorough print out of your results including what you’re like at your best and your worst as well as why you get into relationship conflicts and who you are most compatible with. You can also take a free version here, but the results will not include as much detail. There is a ton of information online and social media about the different enneagram types. My favorite accounts to follow on Instagram are @enneagramashton and @enneagramexplained.
2. Myers Briggs
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator explains how people perceive the world and make decisions. It assigns people into four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving. Your result will take one letter from each category such as INJF or ENFP. This test can be really helpful in personal growth and improving relationships, but in my opinion it’s a little more complicated than some of the other personality tests I’ve taken.
3. The Color Code
The Color Code will tell you which color your personality is most like. This test is widely used in Europe by psychologists, government agencies, and universities to screen their candidates. Before you take the test, see if you can guess which color you will be: red, blue, white, or yellow.
4. The 5 Minute Personality Test
This test will tell you which animal you’re most like. I think it’s super easy to take this one to see what your child’s personality type is, because all you do is choose which adjectives are most like them on a scale of 1-4.
Once you determine which animal you are (Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, or Beaver) then you can see what your natural strengths and weaknesses are. I found it helpful to know that my son who is a beaver, has the desire to be right. It’s also good to know as a parent that he needs security, gradual change, and time to adjust. As a beaver, he is likely to want stability, low risk situations, and tasks that require precision and planning.
When guessing how my husband would answer this test, I found out that his personality is most like the lion. The lions communication style is great at initiation communication and not good at listening. While I’m not sure that this is true 100% of the time, it does help when I feel like he never remembers things I tell him. He also needs to solve problems and wants direct answers. Knowing this about him can help me understand why he gets frustrated with me, the golden retriever, who tends to be indecisive and sacrifice results for the sake of humanity.
It may seem like our personality types are bound to clash, but you know what they say- opposites attract! At least now we can be aware that the other person isn’t trying to push our buttons. They are simply being who they are supposed to be.
Have you taken any of these personality tests before? Were you surprised to find out the results? Stay tuned for more about personality tests for kids.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how to limit screen time. Ironically after hitting publish, I immediately felt guilty. I didn’t even want to share the post on social media.
I felt like such a hypocrite!
Who was I to tell people how to limit their child’s screen time when I couldn’t even enforce those boundaries myself? I had the best intentions. But somehow I had lost all motivation to be creative with my kids. I lost the energy to put up a fight when they pushed back.
Somehow my kids had gone from getting a few hours of screen time a day to me letting them pretty much have as much as they wanted.
I felt like the world’s worst mom.
Don’t get me wrong. I knew that it was ok to bend the rules right now. We’re all stuck at home and we can’t see our friends. But the amount of screen time my kids were getting was making me feel sick.
On top of that, when I was able to gather enough energy to make my kids turn off their devices they didn’t understand why. My 8-year-old started talking back. Taking away all the limits made them think they were completely in control.
But since we’ve been dealing with this pandemic, I’ve been trying really hard to give myself self-compassion.
That means forgiving myself. It means letting go of all the mom guilt. It means not holding myself to a higher standard than I would hold others.
If one of my mom friends called me and told me how horrible she was feeling about letting her kids have too much screen time while we’re in the middle of quarantine, I would tell her not to. I would tell her all the reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty and remind her that she’s doing the best she can.
WHAT IS SELF-COMPASSION?
Self-compassion is defined as extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. It’s being kind to yourself and understanding that we’re all human and we make mistakes. No one is perfect and super mom doesn’t exist.
There will be days when I don’t get to the dishes until 10:00 at night and the breakfast crumbs will still be on the table.
It’s ok if we don’t get through all of the assigned school work every day. That won’t make me any less of a mom.
Sometimes we all just need a break. We need time to work through all the mixed up emotions we’re dealing with. We need time to ride out the storm. If letting our kids watch tv or play video games for 4 hours is the only way we can get through the day, it will be ok.
It’s ok if we eat breakfast at 10 am, have donuts for lunch, and pizza for dinner. We might even top it off with ice cream for dessert.
Because it’s not always going to be this way.
And tomorrow’s a new day. Just because 1 or 2, or even 4 or 5 days go by where my kids have what feels like way too much screen time, that doesn’t mean we can’t get out and do something awesome the next day. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m doing tons of fun stuff with them too.
There’s always tomorrow to go for a hike or a walk around the block. We can try the Pinterest craft or Youtube drawing tutorial another day. We always have the weekend to try a new recipe or play a never ending game of Monopoly.
What would giving yourself more self-compassion look like for you? I’d love for you to share in the comments.
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When they were between 2 and 3 years old, I was researching what age to start potty training so that we could get out of diapers.
Once they were able to eat solid food, I was waiting for the day they’d be able to feed themselves. Then I was counting down the days until they’d be in school full time, so I could really get a break.
I think my youngest has probably felt this the most. Without realizing it, I compare what he can do to what his big brother can do. But I forget that his brother is almost 3 years older. I assume that because my oldest can go to the bathroom by himself, so should he.
I forget that he’s at a different stage developmentally and being potty trained is still a new-ish skill for him. As much as I want him to wipe himself and remember to wash his hands with soap without being reminded, he is only 5!
Can We Just Slow It Down?
Last week I had a moment where I realized I need to stop rushing my kids to grow up though. You know those moments as a mom where you feel like you just want time to stand still?
The ones where you picture your kids leaving for college and you realize that everyone was right….Your days where your kids are at home with you are numbered. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get sentimental like this often, but every now and then I do.
Sometimes I worry that my 5 -year-old missed out on a lot of the things that little kids are into like Mickey Mouse and Elmo. When he wanted to watch preschool shows, his brother would tell him they were for babies. Since he thinks his big brother hung the moon, he stopped asking to watch those shows. He graduated right to super heros and Sponge Bob at age 3!
Goodbye Too Soon?
A few years ago, we realized that our kids were both really interested in Legos. The younger one was able to put together regular size Lego sets, so we decided to get rid of all of our duplo Legos. Ever since then, my youngest has asked why we had to get rid of them.
This year, he asked for more for Christmas. When I was helping with the holiday party in his classroom, I noticed that he went right to the Duplo legos during the free play time. Plus any time I ask him what he does during centers at school, he says that he plays with the duplos.
So Santa got him a set of duplo Legos. They must be his favorite gift because he has played with them over and over again. Instead of spending a few hours putting together a Lego set and then losing interest when it’s done, he creates something new every day.
Last week I noticed that the instruction booklet that came in the duplo Lego box had a piece missing. The missing piece was the part that said the age range was 1 ½ +.
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I know the plus sign after the 1 ½ is open-ended, but I wondered if my 5-year-old read it differently. Did he think his brother would think he’s a baby for playing with them?
It made me realize that he might need permission to just be 5. He might need me to give that to him. So I thought of a few things I can do.
6 Tips For Giving Your Child Permission To Be A Kid:
Build-in time for pretend play. Sometimes if I’m not careful, my kids will go days in a row where they don’t actually play with their toys. We’re always rushing from one activity to the next after school and on the weekends. Then when we’re at home, it’s easy to just turn on the tv or let my kids play endless amounts of video games. I “try” to set limits on screentime and when that time is up, I tell them to go in their play room and play. Sometimes they resist and complain that they’re bored, but I show them how they can use their imagination.
Play more. My goal is to actually sit down and play with my kids, when I can, at least 30 minutes a week. During this time, I make sure to turn off all devices and play whatever they want me to.
Organize their toys and make them easier to find. By helping my son find his Paw Patrol and PJ Mask characters and putting them in a special place, he’s more likely to go play with them when he’s bored.
Talk about how it’s ok to like toys or shows that older siblings might say are for babies. I’ve had to remind my 5-year-old often that he’s not a baby even if he likes different things than his brother.
Watch Peter Pan and sing ‘I’ll never grow up’.This one’s a classic and always makes me wish I was still a kid.
A few weeks ago, my kids had a long weekend off so we went to a playground that we don’t normally get to go to.
I was so excited, because in my mind I pictured it to be much bigger and to have some really cool features that most playgrounds don’t have. I thought they would be so excited. We did have a good time, but it didn’t really go like I expected.
I had to pee immediately after we got there, but of course the bathroom was really far from the playground. I tried to hold it for as long as I could, but I was so uncomfortable. Eventually, I had to drag my kids with me to the bathroom. They were so upset with me that you would have thought I was taking away their favorite toy.
Despite this little mistake, I can still say that I’ve learned a few things over the years about what makes a playground fun. I’ve also learned what not to do. Of course, like most things in parenting, there’s always room to learn more!
So here are 7 things to do to make sure your kids have fun at the playground:
1. Drink Lots of Coffee
Drinking lots of coffee before an outing with your kids is really tempting because you need energy to keep up with your kids. When taking your kids to a playground it’s especially tempting because they’ll want you to play with them. Even though you might be bringing your kids to a playground so that you can get a break, they WILL want you to play with them.
Drinking at least 3 cups of coffee will ensure that you have enough energy to do this. It will also mean that you will need to pee. You’ll have to drag your kids with you to the bathroom, because of course you can’t leave them there to play unsupervised. Your kids will be so happy that they’ll forget they’re even at the playground!
2. There Can’t Be Bathrooms Nearby
Since you’ve fueled up on coffee, no matter how many times you pee before you leave the house you’ll need to go again once you get there. Our bladders as moms went through the ringer when we were pregnant and the aforementioned children sat on them for 9 months. It’s ok though. Moms are used to having to hold it when we have to go.
Also, if you really want to have a good time at the playground make sure to bring your potty-training toddler to a place that doesn’t even have a bathroom! This is the best recipe for fun!
3. Don’t Bring Any Snacks
Your kids will surely be hungry the minute you step foot out of the car, even though they will have just eaten breakfast. Be sure not to pack enough snacks so they’ll whine about how hungry they are the entire time you’re there.
Definitely don’t bring a variety of snacks, because your child will never change their mind and refuse to eat the food that was their favorite the day before.
4. Don’t Pack Any Extra Clothes
This tip is mostly for the moms with younger kids. Make sure not to bring any extra clothes. You never know when there’s going to be a potty accident and your child will need a fresh outfit.
Plus, I remember the times when my toddler had a meltdown because he dumped water on himself and then no longer wanted to wear his shirt because it was soaking wet.
Older kids will sometimes need a change of clothes too. They might go down a wet slide or decide to play in the stream if the playground has one. Or if you misjudge the weather and 74 degrees actually “feels like” 59, you’ll wish you had jackets.
So if you want to ensure a fun day at the playground, make sure you aren’t prepared for any of these situations.
5. Choose A Playground Without Any Shade
In the summer, you’ll want to make sure that you find the hottest playground you can! That means find one without any shade. Fortunately there are plenty of this type of playgrounds around so you won’t have a hard time with this one.
6. Don’t Give A 10 Minute Warning
If you want your kids to have the best day ever, do this one thing. Be sure to grab them in the middle of their fun and tell them it’s time to go. Don’t give them a 10 minute warning so they can finish up their game or go down the slide one last time.
7. Don’t Invite Any Friends
Hopefully by now you’ve caught on that I’ve been giving you bad advice. So if you’re smart enough to do the opposite of what I’m saying, you’ll make sure to invite friends to meet you at the playground. This will actually solve most of your problems.
Your kids will have someone to play with and will stop bugging you to play Hide And Seek Tag. You will also have someone to watch your kids while you run to the bathroom, and you might even be able to bum a few snacks off of them.
If you have a clothing emergency, chances are your friend will have a backup to share. Plus, when it’s time to go home, you can make sure to coordinate with your friends to leave at the same time. This is why finding your village, is such an important part of being a mom! Your mom friends are always there to back you up!
I hope you can learn from my mistakes and help your kids have the best day ever the next time you go to a playground!
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You know that saying, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child?” It’s so true! But the thing is, like many other things about parenting, finding that village isn’t easy.
I moved to Georgia after college and I didn’t really know anyone when I moved here. After I met my husband and we got married, we only had a handful of friends who had kids. The ones who did, lived on the other side of town and we didn’t see them that often.
When I became a mom, I felt really isolated and alone.
Even though I had plenty of friends, I didn’t feel like they really understood what I was going through. I was having trouble with nursing and my baby was always hungry. Because of that, he was only taking 30 minute naps during the day and I felt like I was losing my mind.
When I went to the doctor for my postpartum check-up, she told me what I was going through was normal. Then she gave me a few recommendations to get through it.
Reaching Out To Friends
I started being more intentional about reaching out to the friends I had with kids, even if they lived in another state.
As I started to read it, I realized that everything I was going through was normal.
Around that same time, another mom friend called me on the phone. After she gave me some tips for getting the baby to take longer naps, she said, “I promise it does get easier. I wouldn’t have had another one if it didn’t!”
The more I started to reach out to other moms, the more I felt I wasn’t alone and the better I felt.
After my second child was born, I decided to be a stay at home mom.
This time around, I knew I needed to do things differently. I needed to grow my support network. So I joined a local moms’ club that had weekly playgroups broken down by ages.
That was when I really started to feel like I had a village. It took time to get to know them. I forced myself to go consistently in the beginning, and then the group of strangers started to become familiar.
The playgroups were just as much for me as they were for my kids to socialize with other kids their age.
Help When You Need It
Last week my youngest son Charlie got really sick in the middle of the night. He woke up at 3 am burning up and had a fever of 103.5. He started crying that his stomach hurt and then ended up getting sick multiple times throughout the night.
I finally went back to sleep around 5am only to be woken up again at 5:30am by my other son Noah crying. Luckily he wasn’t sick, but was just sad that my husband was going out of town and had already left.
Charlie got sick again later that morning right before we left to take his brother to school. All I could think about was how I was going to get Gatorade to replenish his electrolytes.
We always give our kids Gatorade when they are sick, and now they expect it. Sure enough, Charlie started asking for Gatorade and we didn’t have any.
My husband had left at 5am to go to the airport for an early morning flight. I was afraid that if Charlie and I went to the store he’d get sick in the car. I didn’t want to do Instacart just for Gatorade, especially since we had just done it the day before.
A few minutes later a text thread started with some of my mom friends about a weekly playgroup that we’re a part of. I let everyone know that we wouldn’t be there that day, because Charlie was sick and of course it didn’t take long for someone to offer help.
One of my friends who lives on the other side of town offered to go to the store for me and get whatever I needed, but I felt guilty asking her to drive all the way to our house just for Gatorade.
So I texted 3 of my mom friends who live in our neighborhood. I asked if they’d grab us some Gatorade if they were going grocery shopping that day.
It couldn’t have been 5 minutes between when I sent the text before we had several bottles sitting on our front porch. My friend who lives right down the street happened to be stocked up so she dropped some off.
By then another friend in the playgroup text thread had offered to bring Gatorade too. I know this may seem like something small, but to a mom who has been up all night with a sick child who is crying that Gatorade is the only thing that will make him feel better, it means a lot.
It means a lot to know that you aren’t alone and that you’re surrounded by people who’ve got your back. The small things add up to make the village that it takes to raise children.
What My Village Looks Like
We are fortunate enough to have our parents living close by to help out with our kids when we want to have a date night. But to me, the village that it takes to raise my children is much more than that.
My village is the mom who called and told me it was going to get better when she recognized the first time mom fear and uncertainty in my voice.
It’s the group of moms who collected money for dinner when one of the moms in our group had a sick kid for 5 days straight in a row and her husband was out of town.
My village is the friend who encourages me to go after my dream of starting my own blog. The one who tells me I can do it when I start to doubt myself.
It’s the group of mom friends who take me out to dinner so that I can vent about all the things that are getting me down.
It’s the friend who tells me that I’m not alone when I’m feeling like I’m feeling overwhelmed as a mom. The one who says sometimes she just wants to run away too.
I hope that if you are a mom who’s feeling isolated and alone, that you’ll make the effort to reach out to old friends who have kids.
Even if you think whatever you’re going through is unique to your situation, don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Join a mom group or find a church with a bible study for moms. Find a way to connect with other moms and build your village.
No one should have to go through motherhood alone!
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Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about taking road trips with kids. I’ll never forget the first time we took my now 9-year-old to Chattanooga for the night.
He was probably 6-months-old at the time, or whatever age it is you start teething. My husband and I wanted to get away for the weekend and Chattanooga is only a few hours from where we live.
So we found a reasonable rate for a hotel, not far from all of the restaurants and shops in the downtown area. We packed all the supplies we thought we’d need- formula, extra outfits, diapers, even extra crib sheets. We thought we had everything. So we set out for Tennessee, full of hope and a sense of adventure.
Things Don’t Always Go As Planned
An hour and a half in and we were ready to turn around and go back home. The baby cried most of the way there! We somehow came to the conclusion that he must be teething. So we found an exit with a baby store where we thought we could find something that might help.
It just so happened that there were restaurants right next to the store. We decided a little snack and maybe an adult beverage would help our moods, and it did. I don’t remember much else about that trip except that we got some sort of natural remedy for teething, some baby toys and teethers, and a sleep sack because we realized we forgot to pack one.
Since our family loves to travel, there have been many more trips and forgotten baby supplies along the way.
I’d like to think that we’ve become better packers, but in reality I think I’ve just gotten better at planning. I’ve also lowered my standards for the perfect vacation. More importantly, I know now that most everywhere we go will have a Target or Walmart nearby.
I’m going to share with you my tips for surviving road trips with kids so that you don’t make the same mistakes that I have!
10 TIPS FOR SURVIVING ROAD TRIPS WITH KIDS:
1. Start Planning Early:
I am a planner by nature, so my mind is at ease when I know where we’re going at least a few months in advance. I also always like to make packing lists for what we’ll need to bring. When we go on road trips, we usually find a house to rent on VRBO. Most of them list any baby or kid items they already have in the house. Then I can try to borrow or buy what we might need that they don’t have.
If you’re renting a house, make sure to find out what appliances they have ahead of time. Then you can bring your own coffee if they have a coffee maker. If they have a washing machine, you can make sure to bring laundry detergent.
2. Plan Stops Along The Way:
We usually go to the beach in Florida every summer, and it’s about an 8 hour drive (without kids). The past few times, we have stopped about an hour away from our destination at a grocery store to stock up on what we’ll need for the week. Not only does this break up the driving a little, but we can usually save a little money this way. The grocery stores near the beach usually jack their prices up. Plus, the stores at the beach are always so crowded you can barely walk, especially when it’s Spring Break or the middle of Summer.
This is where planning comes in handy and I have my trusty list of the essentials for a week of vacation with kids. We always bring a big cooler so we can buy the cold items we need. Since most places we stay at the beach have full kitchens, we tend to try to plan at least a few meals to cook there so we don’t have to fight the crowds at the restaurants every night. Eating in a few nights is another way we save a little money too.
3. Talk To Your Friends:
The beauty of technology is that you have instant access to your friends who live all over the world. More than likely, someone you know has taken their kids where you’re going before. We always like to be adventurous when we travel and try new places that we stumble upon, but it definitely helps to have a few ideas tucked away just in case you get stuck. Plus there are some restaurants or attractions you might really want to go to that might require a reservation ahead of time.
You never know, if it’s Spring Break, some of your friends might be traveling to the same area and you can plan to meet up. It can be great to meet up with other friends with kids when you’re in a different place and get a little taste of home. Plus, if your kids are like mine, they love having other kids to play with, so its instant entertainment for them.
4. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks:
You can never have too many snacks. When my kids were babies, we had these Munchkin 2 Piece Snack Catchers. They are great because they have two handles that are easy for little hands to hold while they’re learning gross motor skills. They also have soft flexible flaps that keep snacks from dumping out, while still giving them access to get their snack without any help! They’re perfect for dry snacks like cereal or these Happy Baby Organic puffs or yogurt melts.
I always try to pack at least a few healthy snacks since I know that it’s inevitable that we’ll give in to the plea for candy at one of our many pit stops. It makes me feel better to know that I’m at least trying to encourage some non-sugary foods. I usually let my kids help pick out some snacks to pack so that they can’t complain about their options. Although, I’ll admit this doesn’t guarantee a whine free trip.
OUR FAVORITE SNACKS FOR ROAD TRIPS WITH KIDS
Homemade trail mix- We like to do raisins, Cheerios, and M & Ms.
Lollipops- What kid doesn’t love candy? Lollipops tend to keep them quiet a little longer! If you want something a little healthier these Yum Earth sugar free lollipops are pretty good. My kids approve of them and they don’t even realize that they’re sugar free!
Try to stick with dry non sticky snacks to avoid more mess than necessary.
5. Check The Weather
Obviously the weather man isn’t always right, but it helps to know ahead of time whether or not you need to pack long sleeves and pants or shorts. Especially since kids grow so fast and you may need to get a few things ahead of the season if it will be warmer or colder where you’re going.
I always try to pack at least one jacket or pair of shorts for each person just in case there is unseasonable weather that wasn’t predicted when we get there. Again, most towns have a Walmart or Target if you get desperate. Heck you can even order Amazon and have it delivered to you at your destination!
I also recommend packing a small bag with a change of clothes and making sure it’s not buried at the bottom of your car in case of emergencies while you’re on the road. Nothing is worse than having to dig through suitcases at the rest stop when someone has a potty accident. If you’re anything like us, we pack our car to the brim. Sometimes moving one suitcase can cause everything to tumble out like dominos all over the parking lot!
6. Take A Field Trip To The Library:
I’m so blessed to have two kids who love to read and nothing is better on a long car ride than a new book. Our library allows us to check out an insane amount of books at once, which comes in handy now that my oldest is flying through chapter books.
Just make sure you keep up with them so you don’t end up having to pay the library for lost books! I also like to remind my kids that library books are only borrowed and we have to take good care of them, so that they’ll let us keep checking out more. This helps them learn how to treat books so that they last longer and teaches them responsibility.
7. Bring Travel Games and Accessories:
The possibilities are endless on this one. Melissa and Doug has some great books with activities for the car like Water Wow and Color Blast. My 6-year-old also loves to play with Wikki Sticks. They’re a little wax stick that your child can mold into whatever shape they want and they leave no mess. Plus they’re reusable and you can even get a book that your child can stick them to and practice their shapes, letters, or numbers. They’re great for motor skill development too!
My kids also love sticker books, coloring books, mazes, and word searches.
You can even get a little lap tray like this one that has a compartment for storing small toys like little cars or legos. Some have a pillow on the other side that makes them comfier to hold.
8. Pack A Travel Potty:
Even if your kids are past the stage of potty training, a travel potty can come in handy for those long stretches of road trips with kids where the exits are few and far between. Don’t forget to pack lots of wipes, napkins, and some sort of disposable bag to store your trash for those unavoidable messes along the way.
9. Download Movies:
Let’s face it, there are times when you’ll be desperate and you’ll have to turn on a movie for your kids. If you’re going on a long trip a 2 hour movie can go a long way. Netflix allows you to download movies to your device ahead of time so that you can just press play when you’re ready to watch.
If you have a built-in tv in your car, even better. Most libraries have DVDs that you can check out, but just pay attention to the due date. Ours only gives us a week for DVDs, but I can renew them online for another week if we’ll be gone longer than a week.
My kids usually get tired of movies after a while, so definitely don’t rely on this alone to entertain your kids.
10. Lower Your Expectations:
I know I mentioned this already, but you can’t expect road trips with kids to go as planned and for everything to be perfect. I’m not saying you can’t still have a good time, but don’t expect to come home feeling like you’ve been to the spa for a weekend.
Once I finally realized this, I was able to enjoy our vacations more- though most of the time I feel like I need a vacation after a vacation with my family. If you can, build in a little time to recharge the day after you get back from your trip before you have to go back to work. Even if it’s just a few hours to get caught up on laundry and listen to music on your headphones while you do it.
Let us know in the comments what you’ve learned from traveling with kids that you wish someone had shared with you. Happy Trails to you!
Our Favorite Things To Pack On Road Trips With Kids
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I always thought being a stay-at-home-mom was the easiest job you could ever have.
I remember talking to a friend who had two kids who didn’t work outside the home. Anytime I’d ask how she was doing, she’d say how busy she was. Then she’d go into all the things she was doing with her kids- running them around town, trying to cook her family healthy dinners, helping them with their homework, and then at some point I’d tune out.
I’d think to myself,
“How could she be so busy? She has the life any mom would dream of!”
Then after I had my 2nd kid, I decided that going to work full-time and having to pay to put two in daycare just didn’t make sense anymore. Kuddos to those out there that do it. I’m not judging you!
It just didn’t work for our family. I wasn’t feeling rewarded enough in my corporate job for it to be worth it for me. So we decided to take our 2 year old at the time out of day care and that I would stay home with our 2 boys.
Never in my life have I had a harder job before.
I’ve had some pretty tough jobs. Like when I worked as a counselor in inner city Atlanta. I went into peoples homes and taught parents ways to deal with their child’s behavioral issues while fearing for my safety as I heard gunshots outside.
I also worked at a psych hospital where I saw people in full blown psychosis. My job was to convince them to stay in the hospital for a few days so that a doctor could adjust their medication. But first I had to get them past the fact that they thought Jesus was going to come save them from the fires of satan that they felt burning inside of them.
Neither of these jobs were as hard as being a stay-at-home-mom.
Being a mom is a hard job period.
Whether you work full time outside the home, work part-time, or you’re a full time stay-at-home mom. It’s just hard. I’ve done all 3 and I have to say that now I get why my friend was always so busy and exhausted.
The days are long.
As a stay-at-home mom, sometimes it feels like you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is how much longer it is until your husband comes home from work so you can get some relief. Then you realize that it’s only 10 am. The fact that your kids are already on their second breakfast and their fourteenth fight, makes it feel like the day’s never going to end.
The highlight of your day is when you get to see your mom friends at the playground. Even though you won’t get to actually complete a sentence in your conversations.
At the end of the day, I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to quit my job and be at home with my boys while they were little. I wouldn’t take that time back for anything and I hope that one day they’ll appreciate it too.
Now that both of my kids are in school full time, I’ve gone back to work part-time. It’s been a good balance for me, because I still get afternoons with my boys. Right now I have Fridays off and I can spend them doing whatever I want.
Self-care is important!
Usually for me that means going to the gym, running errands, catching up on laundry, and volunteering at my kids’ school. But sometimes I actually do things that help me feel recharged. Sometimes I go to lunch with friends, do yoga, spend time writing, or just relax doing nothing.
I wouldn’t be able to survive mommy-hood if I didn’t take time to take care of myself and accept help from others.
I really struggled with this at first, but I’ve gotten better and now I know that it’s a must. Sometimes it means asking my mom to babysit so my husband and I can have a date night. Sometimes it’s as simple as letting my husband cook dinner (or order pizza) so I can have a night off.
I have to allow myself a break so that I can be a better mom when I’m back in it. Even if it means letting the laundry pile turn into more of a mountain and the dishes overflow in the sink so that I can go get a massage on my day off.
I hope you find what helps you recharge and that you’ll ask for help when you need it. I also hope that I can give you some tips to make being a mom a little easier.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite ways to take care of yourself are.