Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network day. We are all writing on the topic of “Travel”. See below for a full list of links!
A good traveler can go with the flow. They can be flexible when they need to be.
A good traveler doesn’t mind being bored, and can easily entertain themselves if they are. A good traveler can sleep when they need to, if the moment allows.
So how do you instill these qualities in your child? Your toddler?
Now, some children are naturally better at car rides and plane rides. Some just don’t like it, or maybe they get car sick, etc.
These ideas, however, are addressing the basic qualities that you can instill in your child to help them with the things they can control- their attitude and behavior towards traveling.
1. Schedules and Routines
Schedules throughout the day give your child consistency and they know what to expect. Schedules ensure your child is getting enough sleep, and enough food (at the baby stages).
Schedules can’t always be followed perfectly while traveling but, if you have a schedule in place, your child will be inclined to follow it, and thankful for the consistency when traveling.
If they always nap after lunch, they are likely to want to nap after lunch while on a long car ride. That’s great, because you can plan around that and have your child prepared to sleep during part of your travels.
While car rides can often be planned around your schedule, or at least to incorporate them, plane rides you are at the mercy of the flight time. You can do your best to plan it around naps.
If you know your toddler will be too excited to nap, you can plan the ride for a wake time ideally. But you won’t always get so lucky.
This is where routines come in handy. Routines are just a basic flow of events. You can still eat, have wake time, and sleep time, so that your child knows what to expect.
If you have these systems in place before traveling, and consider them during your travels, your child is likely to fall into their natural schedules and routines. This makes the trip very easy to plan and everyone knows what to expect.
2. Sleep Associations and Sleep Training
Sleep associations are things like a lovey, blanket, or sound machine. They indicate to your child that it is time to sleep. I LOVE having items that our child associates with sleep when traveling.
These items can be taken on any travel, and help to indicate (even to a baby) that it is time to sleep. The surroundings may be new, but your baby knows that sound machine means bed time.
It really helps to provide comfort and security to your baby, toddler, or even an older child, when sleeping in a new location.
If your child has been trained how to put themselves to sleep (whatever method you choose to use), they will be successful when traveling as well.
You won’t always have the hands or time to be able to help them, so this is an invaluable skill to have.
It’s also a great idea to plan what your child will sleep in and practice at home. There are some great toddler travel beds to consider!
3. Independent Play
A child that can play alone, can entertain themselves.
I just got done taking my 3 year old on a 6.5 hour car ride by myself. She is a pro at independent play, because it’s something we do at home.
As a result, I didn’t have to help entertain her at all. Not once during the 6.5 hour drive.
She was independent and self sufficient when it came to entertaining herself.
I provided her with a bin of items in the car, and then it was up to her to make use of them, if she needed them.
4. Down Time
If you never have down time, your child has never felt bored. Part of our jobs as parents is to set our children up for success in the real world.
In the real world, there is not someone there to entertain you 24/7.
There are plenty of moments where we have all been bored, and we needed to deal with it.
I think it’s so important to start this early. Down time lets your child know what it’s like to be bored, and it provides them an opportunity to be creative and solve their own problems.
Our 3 year old had 6.5 hours of down time on this drive we just took. She was content.
She played for maybe an hour, chatted with me for several hours nonstop, and then just sat and looked at the outside world.
On the way home she wasn’t nearly as chatty, and she only used her iPad for about 45-60 min. The rest of the time she was content.
I love that she is okay to just sit and not be entertained. There were no movies on in our car.
Nothing other than the standard country radio that I had on for my own entertainment while driving.
These aren’t fix all ideas, but they will certainly set your child up for success on long road trips or flights.
Our daughter is naturally good in the car, so that’s part of why she did so well. But the other part, is that she’s practiced all of the above.
As a result, she’s flexible, she accepting of her schedules and routines, she’s capable of entertaining herself and being independent, and she’s ok with down time.
I can’t imagine how this ride would have gone if she was used to me solving all of her problems, and constantly entertaining her.
I just simply wasn’t able to grab a toy when she dropped it. I wasn’t able to play with her or keep her occupied. I was driving.
I’m so thankful we’ve taken the time to help her build these qualities. Our travels are super smooth when it comes to her behaviors.
Now I know we can do this drive without my husband in the summers, when he can’t come along. It’s huge knowing that I can count on Caroline to do so well!
By the way, if you are flying with twins, here are some great tips!
Babywise Friendly Blog Network Travel Posts:
Carrie: Travel Tips Post Roundup
Christine: How To Help Toddlers That Get Car Sick
Other Posts of Interest:
5 Crucial Lessons To Teach Your Child That You Should Start Now