Our family has gone from a low maintenance two adult caravan to a five person traveling circus in the past five years. Traveling to and staying with family is something we look forward to, but we know it’s not easy anymore. Besides the minivan overflowing with kid gear, some of the additional luggage can include junk-food-filled-tired-whiny-off-their-schedule kids.
1 – Set Realistic Expectations
When we used to travel to my parents’ house, I spent a lot of time worrying about if/how/when/where my first baby would sleep. If he didn’t sleep well at night, I spent the whole next day trying to figure out how to get him back on a schedule. I was more of a basket case than he ever was.
Now, three kids in…my expectations are much more realistic and helpful, I think. The #1 thing we do now is set low expectations. We recognize upfront that none of us will get much sleep during travel. Knowing and resigning ourselves to this reality makes the vacation time much less stressful.
The other thing I’ve discovered is that lack of sleep doesn’t kill anyone. Kids (and parents) can handle a few days of a messed up schedule. And, grandparents and family members really do understand when someone is a bit crabbier than usual. No big deal.
2 – Bring Healthy Foods That Your Kids Like…But Be Flexible
You know me. I like to feed my kids well because I know that they behave better and feel better when they do. So, I make a trip to the store before we travel for some of our favorite healthy snacks and other food options. That way, our parents don’t have to worry too much about the kids’ food preferences, and I can feel good about what I’m feeding my kids most of the time. In addition to healthy convenience foods or fresh produce from the store, I usually bring things like Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, Powerball Cookies, homemade popcorn, and trail mix from home for easy, healthy snacking on the road.
That being said, I also set low expectations for and try to be flexible about how my family will eat on the road. I’m okay with the occasional fast food stop or unhealthy meals/snacks at grandma’s house. I know it’s only for a short time, and it helps to know that they at least will have a few healthy things that I bring along.
3 – The State of Momma’s Heart is the State of the Holiday Travel
Over the years, one of the things I’m learning is that I really need to pray before we even begin packing. I have to ask God for patience and, as silly as it sounds, to help me love my husband and kids more than efficiency and control. I’ve learned that the state of my heart really does dictate the state of our holiday travel. A calm heart equals a calm vacation.