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Traveling with Children


I am always amused when I get asked about traveling with children.  It usually goes something like “I am going to my friend’s house that is 2 hours away with a 2 and 4-year-old.  Any tips?”  The tone usually is something sort of panic that they have to entertain their children for a few hours in a small area. I think that it is great that families are not letting long drives, plane rides to deter them from doing what they want to do.

For my family (not just my nuclear family) travels multiple times a year, and we are not just talking a 2 hour drive somewhere.  We used to take 2.5 hour drives in a day trip when my extended family lived that far.  It is about an hour to my sister’s house, so that is something of norm for my children or hers.

We take 2 trips to the beach, which is about 4 hours away, each year.  We have a system down now that really works.  This year maybe different, since we have added 2 Ipads to our tools.  My sister gets the award with taking her 1-year-old and 4 month old on a drive that was 15 hours!  That is something I will give her credit for!

So traveling with children is easy, but definitely takes some planning prior to taking the trip.  Here are some tips to help with it.

  1. Bring snacks: Having something to eat is a great way to distract young children.  We even have special snacks that they only get on long car rides.
  2. Bring new toys: We hit the dollar store for some new activities for the children.  They get to pick one activity.  We also bring some activities that we have at home.
  3. DVD portable player (if you have it): While I haven’t used a portable DVD player, I know many people who have.  It helps pass the time with their favorite movie or TV show.
  4. Prepare places to stop: Look at your trip ahead of time and see if there is a place to stop and stretch their legs.  For our yearly trip we used to stop at a McDonalds with a play area which was a little more than half way through the trip.  We now stop at the outlets which is halfway through the trip and get out and walk the strip.  The kids love it because we stop at one store and get them a treat.
  5. Prepare games for the whole family to play:  Growing up we used to play the licenses plate game, where you tried to get all the states.  Or the “I Spy with my little Eye” game.  There are tons of car bingo games too!  My family favorite is guessing the song.  We put on different songs and we have to guess who it is.
  6. Plan travel bag surprises: I saw this idea on pinterest with no post attached to it.  Make goodie bags with either snacks, treats, activities, or really anything your child loves and give it to them throughout the trip.  For us it would be when they got bored with what they were playing with.  It could be every hour, 30 mins.
  7. Plan to travel during sleep time:  We always plan our ride home during nap time, which has worked out well for us.  That way they sleep most of the trip or part of the trip.
  8. Ipad: This is something that we will use this year that we haven’t before.  We have tons of educational games on them that they can play.  We will not have access to any movies or streamline anything.  We know that it will only occupy them for a little while, but anything will help.

Do you have any tips for traveling with children?  Please let us know.


How Much is TOO Much Screen Time?

There was a recent question posted in one of my local playdates Facebook group.  The question was about screen time and how much does your children have daily.  I wasn’t surprised by the vast responses on this topic.  Some mothers stating none explaining that their children don’t watch any TV or use the IPad, while other mothers, like myself, were honest that our children have a couple of hours a day.  In this conversation it was brought up that a child should not watch more than 2 hours of TV a day.  Which I wonder how many of those moms are actually timing the screen time.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics a child should only have about 2 hours of media or screen time daily.  Specifying that it should only be high quality entertainment. They explain that having too much screen time can lead to problems in attention, behavior and in school.  It has also been linked to inactivity which leads to health issues.  They also recommend that children under two should less than 1 hour a day.

I personally know that my children tend to have at least 2 hours of screen time a day.  (Come to think of it, I work from home and am on my computer 8+ hours a day.  Some days less and some days more depending on what I have to do.) It isn’t a big concern for me because we monitor what they watch.  I don’t mind if they are watching Magic School Bus, or SuperWhy. To me those are educational shows.  It also varies based on the season.  In the winter my children have a little more screen time, where in the summer they are outside most of the day.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics lump all screen time together, I wonder if there is a difference between watching a movie for fun verses playing educational games on the IPad.  I know I have seen such a difference with my children in their speech, letters, numbers, and math skills because of the specific apps we have on our IPad.  My son is now on track to start reading by the time he is 5.

Now we also have plenty of toys, books, puzzles and other items for the children to also play throughout the day.  Our son’s book library is over 400 books (I know from counting it the last time they dumped them all out on the floor in my son’s room.)  Our daughter’s is almost 200 books.  These are books that they love to read and read over and over again. We also were very blessed last summer with Step2 Play Up Double Slide Climber from a neighbor that was getting rid of it.  We have it on our deck and our children play on it and the deck for hours.

I think that each child and household is different.  I think that some days it will be none and other days it will be a lot more than 2 hours.  You need to do what works for you and find a balance for yourself and your children.