Spring is in the air and for many families that means heading out on the open road to enjoy some sunshine and togetherness. Whether you're headed to the beach, an amusement park or just to visit relatives, your number one priority is keeping everyone happy, safe and-let's be honest-sane. Follow these tips for a memorable Spring break experience with your kids.
In the car:
Be sure to pack emergency supplies in case you have any car trouble or unexpected problems. Check your first aid kit and pack extra water, batteries, flashlights, and blankets.
Establish screen limits before you leave the house. For example, agree to let the kids watch two movies during your upcoming eight-hour drive. Give specific timetables-for example, one hour of playing on a tablet after lunch. Be sure to have other ways to entertain antsy kids during the non-screen time. I-spy, 20 questions, Mad Libs, and the license plate games are all fun ways to pass the time.
Wrap up some surprises. For young kids, this is a great way to curb potential meltdowns. Before you leave on your trip, wrap up one "gift" for every hour of the trip. The gifts can be as simple as a coloring page and crayons, some special fruit gummy snacks or even a toy you already have on hand. The point is to give them something unexpected, and the unwrapping is half the fun (plus it takes up some time!)
On a plane
Board early, if you are able. With young kids, early boarding means time to get situated without the pressure of other passengers waiting behind you. You can have your kids strapped in with their snacks and relaxing while the rest of the passengers fight for space in the overhead compartment.
Bring snacks and activities. Just because a plane trip is quicker than a long car drive doesn't mean your kid will be content to watch out the window the entire time. Sticker books, a tablet with headphones and small coloring books work perfectly on your pulldown laptop tray.
Calm their fears. Even older kids may be anxious about flying, especially if they haven't traveled by plane often. Before you leave on your trip, talk to them about what to expect when the plane takes off, during the flight and again at landing. Then, during your trip, offer frequent reassurances, such as, "That noise is the wheels coming down so we can prepare to land." Just knowing what to expect and what is happening will do wonders to avoid any freakouts.
Once you arrive
Remember, your kids are likely tired and cranky from traveling. Don't be surprised if they held it together for the entire trip only to melt down upon arrival. Cut them some slack and be sure to have food and rest at the top of your arrival schedule. You can unpack later.
Check your accommodations to be sure they are kid-friendly and there are no safety hazards. You keep your own home up to standards based on the age of your kids, but not everyone may be as up to date.
Finally, relax and enjoy your Spring vacation with your family! Put away the laptop and your smartphone and simply focus on what is right in front of you. These are the memories that will last a lifetime.