Here’s the second post in my travel series. It’s about reducing the stressful feelings that can happen when travelling, especially when travelling with children.
1. Pack a calming memory and feel da luuuurv.
The biggest issue I have when traveling, even without children, is getting myself all wound up. Before I leave I try to burn into my memory a very happy, blissful time I had with my children. Perhaps even it was just for a few moments, or a favourite photograph. This takes a bit of training because my memory is not what it used to be. I’ve even thought about packing a print of a photo to look at, but never been that organised. I guess it’s a bit like having a meditation. I unpack it from the memory box in my mind and I focus really hard on that image or memory for just a few moments and wait for the happy feelings to come back and breath deeply, like I’m breathing in those happy feelings. Feel da luuuurv. Then I get back to the task at hand. Cleaning vomit, finding that lost boarding pass, preparing for my next singing performance (see tip 3)…
2. Prep your kids. Get them in training.
It’s like the olympics. Many hours go into preparing for a few. And I’m not just talking about having that warm fuzzy chat about what’s going to happen. I’m talking about actual training of specific, helpful activities. For example, on tour you are likely to eat out more often. So try eating out a bit beforehand so everyone knows what’s expected of them. Tell them beforehand what’s going on, be specific, for example ‘we will be sitting down and not running around.’ When you get to the eating-out establishment, remind the children specifically what’s expected and demonstrate it. Then praise to high heaven any efforts. I think even children under 12 months respond to this, perhaps not newborns, but from about 4 months or so. Plus it’s good training for you on how to handle your kids in new situations. Top marks to you if you manage to peacefully eat out with your children often already.
Other activities that benefit from practice beforehand include using public toilets, other people’s toilets, having a shower (if you always bath them), responding immediately to a yell of ‘stop!’, being in busy places (big shopping malls are good simulations of airports). I think it’s useful because then there is less of the unknown for them and they worry less. Plus if you discover something like your child can’t handle crowds, you’ll know to factor in carrying them. A lot.
If you’re more chillax than me, this may sound like overkill. Fair enough. I envy you. I’m not so cool. I’m the opposite of cool.
3. Singing is better than screaming.
I’ve found my children, and some other people’s, respond well to singing. Even my singing. Bonus points if I do actions. It gives everyone something to do and you can do it quietly enough that the people nearby don’t really hear you. The person right next to you may not be so lucky. Even if the children don’t respond, it will probably still have a calming influence over you.
Some children also respond to listening to music. Real music, the pre-recorded by an actual artist kind. There are children’s headphones available, but if you keep a close eye on the volume, you can probably let them use a pair you already have. I find the ones that go over the ear, rather than the ear buds that insert into your ear, are the best kind. Play the kind of music you would play at home. What?! You don’t play music to your kids?! Get on it! Nothing tames the savage beast better.
So there you have it, my top 3 tips for keeping your cool while traveling with young children. Now I just have to remember to use them.
Do you have a top tip to add to my list?