In the few weeks before our trip to Chicago, I scoured Pinterest (where else??) for ideas for traveling with kids/toddlers. I found a lot of good ideas for entertaining three little guys while flying, driving and sight seeing. I found advice on when to travel and where to travel and what to pack and what not to pack. I found all kinds of tips and tricks, some of which worked and some, not so much. Here are the top 5 things I learned, though, from the actual trip.
1. Kids do better than you expect! At least mine did. I think we all imagine the worst case scenario and spend so much time worrying about what could go wrong that we forget what could go right.
2. You know your kids better than you think. Trust your feelings about when (meaning kids’ ages and/or time of day) and where to travel. Chances are, most of the time you will be able to predict how they will react to each activity in your travels. I read several blogs that mentioned to avoid flying during nap time because then you end up with over-tired tots who don’t sleep and make life basically miserable. Makes sense. But I just felt like our guys would be ok. They’ve always been pretty good sleepers. So, our flight home landed right during their nap time. And they slept almost the whole way! So plan according to your instincts.
3. It takes longer to recover from a trip with toddlers than it does preparing for one! And I’m not talking kiddo recovery! Momma has had about zero motivation to do anything. (My bags may or may not still be on the floor in the bedroom…)
4. There are nice people wherever you go. I mean it. They really exist! One of the things I was most nervous about was inconveniencing people around us. We were, after all, going to be THAT family wherever we went. The noisy, insane, out-of-control family that everyone else is watching. I was so surprised and delighted when everywhere we went, people were just KIND. I don’t think there was a bus, plane or train that we boarded that someone didn’t offer us a seat or to hold a child or carry a bag. HUGE relief.
5. Your experience will be what you determine it to be. Just as we were pulling into the airport parking lot ready to embark on this adventure, I promised myself that no matter what happened, I was going to be HAPPY and HAVE FUN! I knew that people were going to stare at us wherever we went and that the kids were bound get tired/hungry/cranky at the most inconvenient times but I was determined to have a good time. Also, I wanted to send the message to all of those staring strangers (and more importantly, to my boys!) that my family is important to me and that I enjoy being with them (even during melt downs in the airport). I am so glad I took that moment to prepare myself to be happy. I wasn’t perfect but I thought of that moment on more than one occasion and it helped me get through some of the ugly moments with a deep breath and a smile.
As I read back over this list, I realized that I should probably apply these mantras to life in general. Maybe then I wouldn’t have to spend endless hours
on Pinterest looking for the answers to my problems. 😉