It’s November! Changing leaves, Starbucks red cups, and with every passing day a step closer to the holidays, which for parents with young children brings up one terrifying image—spending hours on a plane or in the car with screaming, unhappy children on the way to visit family. But traveling with children doesn’t have to be the nightmare we all know it can be. Here are some of my tips to make your holiday travels go smoothly and leave your children with smiles on their faces!
Plan ahead to avoid rushing. Traveling can be stressful enough traveling with adults when you’re running to catch your flight or train, but including children in that mess makes it all the worse. When you leave plenty of time for your travels, your kids can enjoy stopping and checking things out in the airport, there is plenty of time for bathroom breaks or just “I’ve been in this car too long” breaks, and eliminates unnecessary stress.
Play observation games. When you make traveling, especially on longer trips, seem like a game rather than a pain, your child will be less prone to having a meltdown. Give them a camera and ask them to take pictures of all the animals they see, their favorite cloud, or a different road signs along the way. Play “I Spy” or other road trip games to keep them entertained and focused on the trip.
Plan for their comfort. Pay attention to what the weather will be, and pack anything they might need to be comfortable. Let them wear sweats or shorts (depending on the weather) so they won’t feel as fidget-y from discomfort. Basically, set all those minimalism thoughts aside, and just pack everything. But don’t let your children over-pack their own suitcases. Nothing is worse than the complaints of a child carrying a suitcase or backpack too heavy for them—and ultimately you’ll end up being the one carrying the extra weight.
Avoid sugar. It’s just not a good idea to placate an unhappy, tired child with candy from the gas station or airport kiosk. They will have too much energy to sit still, and their crash isn’t going to be fun for anyone.
These tips worked well for me over my son’s youth, and traveling became one of our favorite things to do together!
Do you have any travel tips of your own? Have you ever tried using one of these? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Thank you to everyone who participated in my Goodreads giveaway of Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare! Winners were chosen today, and your books will be coming to you shortly!
This is a tough topic for me to approach, because as a children’s author and an advocate for #BoysWhoRead, I would like to believe that there are no books that should be off-limits for children to leave. All books have the power to expand our children’s minds and help them with their studies, their critical thinking, and their ability to empathize, but just as we filter what our children watch on television, it is important to many parents to make sure books are “age appropriate.”
But how do we go about doing this? Books aren’t categorized like movies into ratings from G-R, and most likely you don’t have the time to read every book your child brings home before they do to make sure it meets your standards for appropriate. And many times you won’t be able to spot all of the content in a book by a quick flip-through and reading of the back cover. That being said, here are some practical and helpful tips to help you filter what your children are reading, and how to decide what you should be filtering for:
Understand your child’s reading-level: This is a suggestion based on filtering by what your child will be able to understand. Part of helping kids fall in love with reading is providing them with stories that will challenge their reading skills, but not frustrate them to the point of putting the book down and never wanting to pick one up again. Children’s books are labeled by age ranges and reading-levels, which will help you determine whether or not a book is going to be the right reading-level for your child.
Take another look at those reading-level labels: Maybe your child is above their own reading level, I know my son John was when he was growing up, but if you want to filter for appropriateness, this is another tool for you to use. Typically the level of appropriateness correlates with the age range a book was intended for, so if your second grader wants to read a junior high level book, not only might it be too far above their reading level, it cold touch on subject matters they simply are not ready for.
Understand the difference between inappropriate and mature: Some books are risqué simply for the thrill—Fifty Shades of Grey, for example. Other books simply touch on mature themes, such as peer pressure, sexual abuse, etc. Risqué books aren’t necessary for your child to read before they are old enough to filter for themselves. Mature books should be allowed based on your judgment of your child’s maturity level. Some young children are ready to be exposed to tough subjects through literature. And the best part about letting your child read these kinds of books is that it opens the channel for you and your child to talk openly about these hard themes they will probably have to come to terms with at some point in their life.
Read Amazon/Goodreads reviews: You might not have time to read a whole book before you give it to your child, but reading reviews is quick and easy! If there is anything truly inappropriate or shocking, the reviews will most certainly call it out.
When it comes down to it, know that only you know what your child is and isn’t ready for. If you are truly bothered by a certain word, character, or theme in a book, you have the right as a parent to keep it on a higher bookshelf until your child is ready to make the decision of what to read on his/her own.
Are there any books you have kept your children from reading? Do you believe that filtering what kids read is wrong? Let me know in the comments!