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Travel Simplified For Parents

A guide which includes tools to reduce screen-time and other tips, techniques and boredom busters to make traveling with kids easier.

By Mehreen TariqPublished 7 years ago 9 min read

Not long ago, I felt it was apt to give life a dating system. To segment my life into B.C (Before Children) and A.D (After Descendants) seemed a great way to refer to life before and after parenthood. You see most of our perceptions take a turn on entering the parenting world. For example, during the B.C era I, like most human beings reigning the planet, would dive single-handedly at an opportunity to explore and travel. But life changed drastically A.D2010. Forget an escape to the Bahamas, getting out the door was more of a hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Yes, I’d be huffing and puffing, red in the face trying to make that exit. Take this opposed to B.C1, where getting out the door was a breeze.

A.D a family excursion means mom endlessly stuffing items in the diaper bag (except maybe the diaper, been there done that lol) till the moment of departure from the house. This mom whose mission is to somehow get out the door is inching towards it (let's slow motion that) but her hands fall from the ALMOST touched doorknob, for she remembers she left Binky’s favorite book. That very book that might be the solution to a disastrously horrific mood. She sprints towards the bookshelf in a blur and gets the book in haste dishevelling the oh-so-wonderfully meticulous rack. She proceeds to make ado (as she had vowed earlier while tidying) when her bag starts buzzing. She doesn’t have to be a psychic to guess it’s Hubby dear questioning her whereabouts. She takes out her phone and Bingo! It’s him!

Hubby dear makes an attempt at questioning her absence, but his voice is muffled by Binky’s little brother’s wails. Hubby dear deduces it’s an absolute fail to question her arrival, (moms in the same boat don’t worry Hubby dear will cease to inquire a couple of years down the road) and instead shouts into the mouthpiece that Binky Jr. seems to have spoiled his diaper. She eyes the books in disarray and consoles herself with an image of an eventually ransacked bookshelf, a by-product of Binky and playmates. She quickly dumps her phone in her bag along with the other sea of essentials and exits only to bring a squirming Binky Jr. back inside. She proceeds to her task (telling herself it’ll only be a couple of minutes) to discover an outfit change is needed too! She bites her lower lip (because she can’t yank her hair out as her hands are occupied with the contents of the diaper) and continues till she wrestles him into a fresh pair of clothing.

Now, she’s out the door and also out of breath. She’s hurtling towards the car door now while checking off that imaginary list in her head, the one she always thought she’d make but never got around to it. She brushes this negative thought aside. She won’t let dark thoughts send her spirits plummeting today. She opens the car door knowing all too well about Binky Jr. and his reaction to restraints, she goes on anyway and accomplishes it after yet another wrestling match and a distraction technique well played. She seats herself catching her breath and hears the undercurrents of what sounds like the beginning of a squabble between Binky and his older sister. Under her breath, she mutters a silent prayer and almost calls out for them to stop, but notices Binky Jr. fully amused by the skirmish between his older siblings. She lets them be, inhales deeply and ALMOST sinks into her seat when the thought of whether she locked the front door begins to gnaw at her.

To the moms reading this account, even to the dads (hopefully), I want to provide some tactics or tools to assist you when you’re caught up in many of the moments you read above. I want your A.D traveling experiences to be, if not as good as B.C, but definitely worthwhile. As a mom of three children, all aged six and below, I have always tried to come up with tactics to make an experience outdoors with family less stressful and one where your last weapon (not the first) is the screen. We come from a time where long journeys in cars meant boredom which gave rise to creativity and devising our own games and eventually reading. We didn’t feel entitled to entertainment, and me being old school means thrusting a tablet into the hands of my hollering child is rarely the first approach. So, let’s take it from here and let me go on to tell you how to make your experience with kiddos, not the perfect one, but an unforgettable one (and I mean unforgettable in a good way).

Meal Plan for the Traveling Tots and Older Children

What do I feed my kids a day before travel and while traveling to ensure minimum bathroom trips?

This tip is foolproof and is one to follow through and through (don’t worry parents you won’t face dire consequences if your child is constipated for a day) especially for the ones who aren’t potty-trained. Every parent's worst traveling nightmare is a leaky diaper. The solution is simple, feed them a starch based diet a day before, and while traveling. Bread, potatoes, and pasta! Be the favorite mom for a day/two and sack the fiber for your own benefit. Please send a silent prayer my way when your journey has been toilet free!

Of course, limit their water intake!

Try to keep sugary treats at bay, especially if you’ve seen post sugar meltdowns to be a pattern amongst your kids.

Changing Diapers In a Jiffy

I may have out-ruled poo occurrence for you but who said anything about diaper changing? So what to do if bathrooms are inaccessible,

or for when you’re tired,

or if you don’t have wipes,

or for when the diaper is going to fall apart?

  1. Spread changing mat and put the baby on top.
  2. Take a spare diaper, unfold, and put under baby’s diaper-clad bottom. Pull open the sticky parts of a new diaper and then pull off old diaper (hold new diaper intact so that doesn’t move out of place) and stick in place. Wallah! Follow me on my Instagram account for an upcoming video of, ‘Diaper change in a jiffy’.

How to Get Your Hollering Child Into Restraints Without Breaking Sweat?

Car seats, strollers, and high chairs; traveling with restraints has made excursions safer experiences, thanks to the creators. But sometimes you wish the creators had added a paragraph or two in their manuals about how to set a fussing little one in the restraint. Well, no sweat I’ve got them covered here! So here’s to a scream-free affair while restraining your wee one with only your HANDS. I call them the TACTFUL TICKLES! Yes, the answer to your troubles are just a tickle away. Before your very eyes, you’ll witness tears of despair transition to tears of laughter!

How to Remain Fret-Free About the Un-Made List and Still be Organised?

For me getting a writing tool means attracting my youngest one, which means the list is better out the window. When struck with an idea, note making on the phone doesn’t help because most of the time my hands are wet or busy dealing with food and multiple kid-created messes. Counting on my memory is like counting on a dead guy to do your homework. So thanks to the Evernote app, I can make audio notes after unlocking my phone with so much as a touch and asking Siri to get you to the audio note section. An organized you equals a sound mind which in turn equals a saner happier you!

DIY Treats or Tools to Pindrop Silence Within a Moment

Okay so you don’t want to give a sugary treat so early into the trip, but you’re desperate because of the screams that have you and all the other passengers on board at wit's end. What to do? This little mass of wriggling and wailing flesh has made you into a spectacle for people to pass judgment and whisper. Keep your cool and show them who’s boss with the following tools:

  • Edible jewelry made out of honey flavored cereal: You can get the stretchy necklace string at a craft or stationery store, or just use yarn. String the honey-sweetened cereal and there you have a trinket for your time of need.
  • Lollipop life saver: This DIY lollipop sweetened with honey is not only great for your kids oral health but it’s even better for your mental health, when at breaking point. Younger ones will suck themselves to blissful slumber and older ones will stop squabbling for once. Make in advance for your journey and you’ll be so glad you went the extra mile. (They also come in handy if children catch a cold, which they are susceptible to while journeying). Here’s a link to these lifesavers.
  • A bottle of lotion: Call me crazy but I have no idea why kids love to squirt some out and slather. I once had some in my handbag and gave it to my woeful child, unaware of the magnitude of its effects. The silence was rewarding, so let them silently slather away.

What to Do when Boppers Are Bellowing with Boredom?

Try to not give into the impulse of handing them a screen when they complain of boredom, instead try to engage them differently. Here’s what we do for laughs along while making fun-filled memories-

  • Knock Jokes: Who doesn’t love a knock knock joke now and then? Always a quick way of putting a smile on my children's faces. We love reading them out and making our own. Even my youngest one understands the humor now and not only giggles but participates with the rest.
  • I Spy: Old school yes, but a definite distraction. Play with them for a while and you’ll see how quick they’ll be to get the hang of it and might not need you after.
  • Riddle time: Yes, old school again but you know me now!
  • Tongue twisters: Definitely minutes of fun with this one. We even kept scores last time we played and I totally sucked. (NOTE: You don’t want to be on my team).
  • Audio stories: Finally, something you won’t have to do, and yes I care for you too! The website, http://www.storynory.com/ is one of the audio websites I play in my car. You can also google other websites with free audio stories or try Soundcloud. Sit back relax and drift off into the realm of tales.
One thing I’d like to pen down here is, we as parents expect kids to be well-behaved, cooperative and self-entertained. We complain when they are bored and unable to make themselves busy in different circumstances. In the digital age, we forget we need to teach them that skill as well. It is only when we play with them they learn. So take traveling as an opportunity to teach!

Boredom Busters - A Much Needed Toolbox

  • Spark interest with Pinterest: I recommend surprising your child that very day with new or long-forgotten activities. A different activity will always grasp and hold their attention. Pinterest helps me come up with new and simple things to make and take to keep my kids occupied. So grab a premade busy bag or two and you’re good to go.
  • Squigz: A total mess free toy that kept my children busy for a good amount of time were Squigz, purchased from Fat Brain toys. My children couldn't get enough of them which meant bliss! I indulged also and loved the way they went kerplunk. (WARNING: Kids will most likely not share with you, so keep a separate baggie for yourself). Here's a link to check out how cool they are.
  • Lego tape: I haven't tried this out yet but the lego tape looks super cool for the older children. You can check it out in this link.
  • Magnet toys: Magnetic toys used to construct are the recent rave in town. Not only do they educationally involve your kids on so many different levels at home, but you can take them when on the go. Here’s a Facebook link so you can check them out.
  • Magic doodles and the likes: You can always count on this handy dandy tool, to be mess free, convenient and a source of creative engagement for your little ones.
  • Books: Yes, bring them along even if they can’t read they will flip through the pages. I’d suggest getting the tag reading system by leapfrog (according to reading level). They will not only help build strong grounds for reading early on but are excellent travel read alouds! Check them out in the Facebook link here.
  • Stickers and activity booklets are also great must-haves.

So, there you have them parents, all to make life A.D a tad bit easier. That being said, I truly hope these tools, hacks, and techniques not only assist you but serve as motivating components to reduce screen time when out and about. You can also modify your toolboxes to your preferences and needs. Oh wait up, how could I have missed the absolute ear-saving tool for situations beyond control? Save an earache with a pair of earplugs! So plug away partners and let the adventure unfold!

family travellisttravel advice

About the Creator

Mehreen Tariq

Mehreen is a SAHM of three children under seven. Mehreen, her husband and three wildly-imaginative children reside in Naperville, Illinois. As a family they believe in learning while making memories.

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    Mehreen TariqWritten by Mehreen Tariq

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