After all our careful planning, the day had come to set off on our very first adventure as a family of five. My girls had travelled quite a bit but I was unsure of how my 6 month old baby boy would do on our 14 hour flight to America. It was 4 am and we had our bags in the car ready. Now all we had to do was get the kids up and dressed.
As I roused my 4 year old and quietly dressed her, I asked her if she needed to go to the toilet before we left. In her bleary state she said "Why? Aren't there toilets in America?" LOL. That would create some extra problems.
The early morning passed quickly as we drove first to the train station and then caught two trains to get to the airport. A walk from the station to the departure terminal already had us losing patience. "I'm hungry. Can you carry me? My legs are sore!" And that was just my husband.
Then our check-in turned into a three hour debacle.
The kids went from complaining to running around the check in area, diving under line ropes and trying to knock each other over. While my husband tried to deal with the check in problems, I tried to reign in my children. I heroically created some games to play with lightening speed, cementing my super hero status as "the entertainer".
Game number one: Like eye-spy but without letters. This was me..."Ok girls, you have to stand really still and see if you can find these things. Can you find a lady wearing a green hat?"
My girls refocused and started looking around the room.
"There!" My 6 year old screams at the top of her lungs pointed very obviously at a lady in line wearing a green hat. The lady began to look uncomfortable now wondering why my kids were laughing and pointing at her.... Ok well maybe the next thing to look for won't involve people.
Game number two: I called it "Scenarios". I would make a scenario and then give the kids an A,B or C option for what they would do in that scenario. The idea was that it would teach them some important life lessons...or not.
"Ok, so you are at the shops with Daddy and there is a toy your really really want. But Daddy says "Not this time"
You A) Ask Daddy really nicely if he can buy it for you, maybe for your birthday.
B) Start crying really loudly and hope Daddy will buy it to stop you crying
or C) Grab the toy and run out of the shop
The girls don't stop to think about the answer. "C!" They yell with delight.
Great! Now I'm teaching them about shoplifting!
Game number three: Let's work on their math skills. "Ok, how many red things can you see in the room."
They count at the top of their lungs while pointing at all the red things. "Seven!" they scream.
"Ok, how many green things can you count quietly?"
They count in whispers (yeah I know, pro style parenting) "Five," they say in a normal voice.
"So how many red things AND green things are there?"
They count on their fingers. "Twelve".
"And is 12 an even number or an odd number?"
Wow,I actually found a game that is working for a bit....
Other ideas are to carry some small entertainment value items to pull out at a moments notice. Things like tiny tubs of playdough, a keyring of keys for babies, a small flask for daddy.... whatever will make your trip easier. And honestly, don't sweat the small stuff. Kids rarely behave like you expect them too.
I would love to hear your travel stories too. Share them in the comments below or send me an email.