It’s hard enough hitting the road (let alone leaving the house) with kids on any given day, but the Christmas Holidays seems to amplify every struggle we parents are faced with.
Whether it’s our increased stress the levels, the extra anticipation that sends our kids a little more insane or simply the magnitude of other families bustling to do the same thing on roads, at airports or swamping camping grounds, or a combo of all three. Believe it or not, there are a handful of ways to minimize the stress. The Lifestyle Channel’s Travel Expert Rose Jacobs shares her top ten sanity saving tips.
1. Leave the Tree at Home!
Ok, so I’m referring more to the bells and whistles, the large presents, the turkey, the items that don’t pack well or are simply not needed on the trip. This is the greatest hidden reward about travelling at Christmas with the kids – you don’t have to worry about all that stuff! Christmas trees can be created out of anything, wherever you are! (Aussies often improvise with a large rotating fan?!), cover it in shells or flowers, items the kids are sent off to collect as an extra activity to kill time.
2. Naughty Corner Exist Everywhere!
Just because you’re away from your natural habitat doesn’t mean all the usual boundaries for the kids have to go out the window. I agree that its nice to let the kids have a little extra freedom to roam when you’re on holidays and your life can be easier when you relax a little on the rules. However, your sanity will be saved if you let the kids know that if they over step the mark, the repercussions still remain. I’ve found naughty corners at the beach!!! All you need to give them that sense of “time out” is a spot where they know they have crossed the line. A tree, a chair. You’ve left the house but you’re still the boss.
3. Santa Sees Everything!
Assuming you haven’t burst the Santa bubble yet with your kids, this happens to be the ultimate trump card – particularly with the youngest believers. When all else fails and they are running screaming up the aisles of the airplane, and you are at your wit’s end, use the “Santa threat.” It works instantly and goes a little something like this… “It’s not me you’ve got to worry about darling Jimmy, it’s Santa. He is watching you right now and every time you scream and run away from me, he rubs one of your presents off his list.”
4. Feed the Beasts
Toys, blankets, sunblock, even nappies are easily bought no matter how remote your holiday is. Don’t panic about making sure you have all of this on hand at any time. Instead, the number one item you need to make sure you have on hand is sugar-free snacks. When the kid’s blood-sugar levels drop, this is when the chaos begins. It doesn’t matter which amusement park you’re at, which pony they’re riding, if their little tummies aren’t kept at an even level of energy then you’re going to suffer. Low sugar fruits like bananas are awesome, cheese and crackers, ham sandwiches… easy to buy on the road and will keep them slow-burning a consistent energy through the day.
5. Get Creative
Instead of lumping the kids with their technical gadgets, get creative and set them some stimulating activities.
6. Plane Games
If you are doing the dreaded flight, (actually this can apply to any form of transport really) be sure to stock up on non-sticky, reasonably low volume, non-choke-able, never-seen-at-home-before toys, books, games, glow in the dark glasses, dolls and general craft items that will keep your kids distracted for as much of the journey as possible.
7. Some Sort of Plan
I find that most kids in general respond really well to routine. So, when the holiday comes and the normal routine gets thrown out the window, it’s a novelty at first and then mayhem can ensue. As much as possible, hold on to (or create a brand new) rough sense of routine for the kids, whether it be around eating, sleeping, playing, down time or even a reward for the end of a well-behaved day, a game of some sort with the parents each evening.
8. Make Friends – Big and Small
Our two kids often end up whingeing during a long holiday away from home that they’re bored and they miss their friends. Fair enough. So, set the example and make new mates on holidays – with kids the same age! It’s a win-win situation and you’re showing your little ones what life’s about – expanding your horizons.
9. Slow Down
Imagine it was your very first time catching a plane or hustling through an overcrowded terminal of some sort… this is what your kids will be absorbing. The moment you stop rushing them to keep up to your pace and instead allow yourself some extra time to go at their pace, you’ll find it a whole lot more achieveable – and in fact, enjoyable. See every moment through your kids’ eyes! Far more fun!!
10. Every Holiday Has an End
Coming back to reality after a holiday can hit us all pretty hard… and often we as folks get pretty stressed out about the return to normality and daily grind. The kids pick up on this. So, if you want your “holiday vibe” to stay with you and the family as long as possible then don’t let go of the connection and the slower pace and the relaxed rules and the evening family games the minute you step foot back in the house. It takes great effort to remember this tip, but if you can hold onto it as long as possible then your kids will thank you for it and you may just find that the following holiday will be somewhat smoother because everyone has such fond memories of the effect it has on the family, during and after the trip.
Rose Jacobs is an award winning Travel Journalist and Television Presenter. Along with being the Travel Expert for The Lifestyle Channels she is a popular host on Sydney Weekender on the Seven Network. Rose also writes her own blog www.poopypropeller.blogspot.com.au with travel advice for parents travelling with kids. Follow her on Fbook: @RoseJacobs Twitter: @JacobsRosie Insta: RoseJacobs1