Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sometimes kids surprise us

Sometimes kids surprise us. Perhaps it is that we underestimate them or perhaps it is that they show resilience that shadows that of most adults. We think of them as fragile and vulnerable because they're little beings we are trying to protect but more times than we parents probably care to count they show maturity and strength that makes them a lot less fragile than we think.

In my case, the surprise came from our first trip to visit Santa. My daughter was born in February of 2008 so last Christmas she was almost 10 months old but since she does not attend day care we decided that the mall at Christmas time was probably more germs than we could handle. We didn't take her to visit Santa then so we knew we'd be doing so this year but I was reluctant. As a kid, visiting Santa was not part of my Christmas traditions and just didn't seem of real importance for me. Additionally, although our daughter is a very friendly outgoing child sometimes she exhibits a bit of anxiety around men she doesn't know so I was sure the Santa visit would be less than ideal. My husband thought otherwise and insisted at every opportunity that we should take her.

He had been mentioning Santa to her whenever they saw a cartoon, character, etc. that represented him and she seemed to be excited. I didn't believe him. I put it off hoping trips & tasks would intervene and we would "just run out of time". So, I don't have to tell you how surprised I was when we were in Walmart running errands and as I turned a corner heard my daughter shriek with excitement. She had caught a glimpse of Santa. He was sitting on a wire bench in the Garden department. He was wearing glasses and was too thin to even resemble the jolly old guy but he was in a red suit and had a hat and beard so our daughter just about jumped out of the shopping cart and dragged us to him. She waited in line, walked up to him, sat in his lap and smiled for the picture. Wow. Wow!

The crying, scared scene I had imagined was so far from reality. She glowed. I don't think she gets the asking for presents bit... she just loved hanging out with a POPULAR character of the season. She also enjoyed the Santa Shamu and Elmo at Sea World. The best part... well I have to say it was the look of satisfaction on my husband's face as he reminded me that he knew she would do ok and that I underestimate her most of the time. The next week he took her to the mall to "hang out" with Santa again. She did great and dad couldn't have been prouder.

Lesson learned. The holidays bring many opportunities for our kids to surprise us. Whether it is adapting to travel, new family members, or new experiences like Santa and fireworks we should always give them the benefit of the doubt and be ready to console and reassure if need be or just enjoy their joy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Teaching Kids to Give Not Just Receive

Giving back, being thankful or grateful, these are words we hear a lot as the end of the year approaches and we begin to reflect on the trials and successes we've had in the past months. Oddly, it's not something we hear from many children. For kids it seems that the focus of our holidays has become, perpetuated by society, the number and kinds of gifts they will receive. It can become completely about them if we're not careful to teach that during the holidays and beyond it is best to give than to receive.

Our children are bombarded with ads for toys and images of making lists of the things they want and "deserve" because they were good. But not too many messages are being sent to them by mass media, or parents for that matter, that the important part of this season is about opening our hears, giving back, giving thanks and simply being grateful for all that we have and all that we don't have.

So what's a parent to do? How can we teach our children about being altruistic without burdening them with the problems and issues of the adult world? In our quest to teach our children empathy and selflessness do we risk robbing them of a childhood by exposing them to issues we consider above them? Will seeing poverty, hunger, sickness, or pollution overwhelm their spirit?

In my opinion it is actually the opposite. We usually underestimate kids. Being direct and honest with them is usually the best option. Allowing them to see the world for what it is (be it your local community or another country) helps them empathize and better understand it.

If you seek out experiences that are age appropriate and always let your kids ask questions and express their emotions world issues can be a great way to connect with them and to instill values. When they express their emotions validate and help them deal with them. Ask any teacher and they'll remind us that most kids will want to "help" when they encounter others with a problem especially other children, so provide opportunities for them to do so. Volunteer as a family at a shelter. Take them shopping for toys for kids in need and then go with them to deliver these gifts. Visit the elderly or raise funds for a cause of interest. Don't forget to listen to their ideas and help them implement these. Kids can surprise us with their own valid solutions to problems. As long as you are by their side explaining and reassuring any exposure to the world's ills will only help them think more globally, be more empathetic and ultimately create an altruistic little person.

Additionally, consider that travel can be a valuable tool in your child's education and growth. With travel comes both knowledge and empathy and a world with more empathetic people can be a better place for all of us.

My personal experience with travel as a teaching tool makes me recall a trip where I was old enough to notice the poverty in the country we were visiting. My parents would often drive us down to Monterrey Mexico to visit family and on this particular trip I must have been about four or five years old. I remember that we stopped for gas in Laredo after we had crossed the border and a small girl... not much older and actually shorter than me... came up to my father as he was pumping gas to ask if he wanted to buy gum. She was dirty, shoeless, and thin. It made me sad that she was working and the look of desperation in her eyes made me feel the need to help. My father bought her box of gum (not just a pack) and my mother gave her a pair of my shoes.

She was so happy and within minutes we had three or four other children asking my parents for clothes or food or anything. My dad handed out some more coins and told them he would be back with more clothes. The rest of the two and a half hour drive to Monterrey my parents explained to me that some children in this world didn't have parents or a home or many things we were blessed with so it was up to us and others to help them. They explained that there are many kids around the world who are hungry and poor who have to work for their survival.

To make a long story short a new family tradition was started and on every trip we took to Monterrey we always brought as much clothes and shoes as we could. On our drive down we gave clothes and shoes to as many kids as we could and also made special trips into very poor areas where we were surrounded by so many kids that our bags of clothes disappeared in seconds.

We were not a wealthy family (actually I don't think we were even middle class) and I am sure that we could have sold some of those clothes for a few extra dollars or kept them longer to not have to buy more clothes but seeing the joy in the faces of the children we gave it to made me feel hopeful. Hopeful for their well being, hopeful for their happiness and mostly it made me feel rich. I was rich in the love of my parents, in the safety of my home, in the true sense of the word... rich in spirit.

So this holiday season give your children the gift that counts. Teach them about giving and share your time and love with them while encouraging them to share their blessings with others.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I've learned while traveling with kids

A friend once shared with me that she felt like she learned so much about herself and the world while traveling alone. My idea of her travels seemed so romantic, ideal and fun that I truly envied her lifestyle but when she shared the lessons learned I couldn't help but see her travels were not so different from mine. Like mine, her travel is an opportunity to learn about the world, it's cultures, and peoples while learning about yourself. My travel's now involve at least our daughter and sometimes other kids so it is also an opportunity to teach as much as we learn along the way. Additionally, I've realized that there are great lessons to bring back and apply to our everyday lives.

Here's what I've learned while traveling with kids:


Everything can be fun if you choose to make it so.
On a recent trip with my 15 month old daughter and my two nephews I realized that even a long car ride or seemingly endless day can be made better. In this case it was with a little word game and a lot of imagination. Max had all of us cracking up with laughter when he decided to narrate our drive and tweak it with a little word game. Now if an 8 year old can find the fun in being board I'm sure we can find the fun in our daily activities.


Perspective is AMAZING.
From a child's perspective things are bigger, better, and more exciting. They are not usually jaded and the most mundane seeming items to us might be a treasure to them. But it is just a matter of perspective. You can choose to change your perspective and ordinary things might seem just as extraordinary.


Flexibility is key.
Kids are so much better at adapting to changes in routine. They may miss naps or the regular bedtime routine but when they finally fall asleep... in the car, stroller, your lap, etc... they're worn out and HAPPY. They wake up the next morning ready to play again without complaints of how their usual routine was missed. If we're flexible most curves life throws us can be learning opportunities or at least opportunities for fun.


You can do that thing you'd thought you'd never try.
At home kids may hate lettuce or strawberry milkshakes but when they're "out", be it a vacation or a trip to grandma's, they surprise us by trying things you didn't think they would. Adopt that courage and curiosity and challenge yourself to do things that may be different enough to scare you. Parasail, horseback ride, ski/snowboard, eat foods you're not sure about, take the subway or bus, go on a long bike ride or a blind date just try and don't wait to be on vacation to do it.


Taking a camera everywhere is a great idea.
Sometimes the best picture moments are unexpected but when you see an opportunity for capturing a shot it's good to be prepared. Whether it's a silhouette of the kids at the park or a posed shot of siblings, cousins, friends, having ice cream or enjoying a meal it's worth the little extra weight in your purse to be able to look back at these moments. Digital cameras or even phone cameras are also a great tool.

• Photograph your children before splitting up at a venue or everyday while traveling. If they get lost, you'll have an instant visual of exactly what they were wearing to show local law enforcement.

• Snap a shot of the row marker you parked at in the amusement park, stadium, mall, etc.

• If you can't buy a map you can always snap a shot of it. Good for subway maps, street maps, stadium/arena maps, etc.

• Document business. Take a picture of a rental car from all sides before you drive away, or snap shots of broken or missing items in your hotel room. Families with kids are always quickly blamed for damage. You can also photograph your luggage to help describe it in case it is missing.

• Use it to document info from flyers. Urban centers are overflowing with flyers promoting local events. Take a picture of the flyer to remember the date, time, and location.Share your insights. Let us know what you've learned while traveling with kids.


Share your insights. Let us know what you've learned while traveling with kids.

.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Traveling with Kids during Flu Season

Flu season is already upon us and let's face it, most parents are not just worried, we're terrified. Although logically we know vaccinations and adequate precautions are the best we can do to prevent the flu we still fear for our children's health especially if they are little. So what about travel? With so much attention focused on the H1N1 virus this season many of us may fear going outside our door and would much less consider traveling to another country but with proper precautions travel can be no more dangerous than every day activities at home.

The CDC and WHO are not recommending restricted travel for healthy people because the virus has already spread worldwide. High-risk travelers should consult a doctor prior to travel to areas reporting H1N1 flu. These include:

  • Kids younger than 5
  • People 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People of all ages with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Kids and teens younger than 18 who are on long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk of Reye's syndrome after influenza virus infection.
  • Adults and children with weak immune systems, including immune system suppression caused by medicines or by HIV.

Before travel make sure to prepare. Get vaccinated and get your kids vaccinated for both seasonal as well as H1N1 flu. Children under age 9 who are receiving the vaccine for the first time should receive two doses spread 4 weeks apart so make sure to start your preparations at least 8 to 5 weeks prior to travel. Try to maintain a healthy immune system by eating (and feeding your kids) good foods that include a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy and other nutrient rich food. Make sleep for you and your kids a priority. Well-rested kids are less likely to get sick. Of course consult travel advisors of the country you'll be traveling to and subscribe to email alerts from them as well as the CDC & WHO.

If you're sick, stay home. Some airlines are waiving change fees if you can provide documentation of having the flu but to be safe inquire prior to booking. Travel insurance may also be well worth it's cost as is health insurance for your trip since most plans don't cover medical costs abroad.

While traveling, take sensible precautions. Keep your hands and your kids' hands clean. Teach them the importance of washing for 20 seconds or more and carry plenty of antibacterial wipes or alcohol-based gels. Teach them to keep their hands away from their face so the germs can't get into their nose, eyes, or mouth. Stay away from very crowded areas. If you must take public transportation do so before or after morning or afternoon rush hours. Inquire about less busy times at attractions and museums and try to plan your visits then. If you notice someone who is visibly sick stay at least 8 feet away if possible. If not possible, because they are your ticket vendor or stewardess, etc. then simply make sure to wash or disinfect your hands as soon as possible after contact with them or anything they were in contact with and still make an effort to keep your hands away from your face.

Although the H1N1 flu has proven to come with serious complications we have to remember that all flus cause these complications and they are all spread the same way.

My 19 month old recently had the flu. She caught it after being around her school aged cousins. She's been a very healthy baby so it was devastating to see her so sick. She had a high fever, no appetite (couldn't even get her to take liquids), and was almost listless. She only wanted to be held and cried about everything. We noticed her not acting like herself and took her to the pediatrician right before the symptoms were full blown. They tested her for Flu and she proved positive for Flu A (H1N1 is a strain of Flu A). That same day we started with the Tamiflu but because she wasn't eating she kept throwing up after we gave her the dose.

I guess some of it must have been absorbed because after the first two doses and an alternating constant regimen of acetaminophen and ibuprofen every three hours she started eating a bit and drinking water. For two days we were on egg shells terrified that her illness would develop into something much more serious but thankfully she started improving. By day three she almost seemed back to normal. She had a little cough but none the worse for it. It took a few more days to get completely over it and by then our pediatrician confirmed it was H1N1.

I share this to illustrate my point... yes it can be dangerous but it can also be no worse than seasonal flu IF you take care. Get treatment at the first sign of illness. Don't think twice. See your doctor or take your child to see theirs right away and get them tested for flu. The window for the antiviral to work is narrow and you can miss it if you wait too long.

Regardless, don't fear travel, just take sensible precautions and your trip can be just the same and as enjoyable as any other non-flu time of year.

Print it in Moleskine MSK format

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kids: Friendly or Not

I realize that people belong to one of two camps: Friendly or Not. I used to think that this was caused by life experiences that turned them off to interaction or because they were either extroverts or introverts but now I'm not so sure. I question this because I've noticed a disproportionate number of kids that seem to fall into the NOT friendly category. Could they all be introverts or are parents not teaching kids how to interact with others?

We have a 19 month old daughter who understands both English and Spanish and has about 10 to 15 words in both languages. Despite a lack of an expansive vocabulary at this time she does not have any trouble communicating non-verbally. She is big for her age... she is as tall or taller than most 2 year olds and maybe some 3 year olds... so most people assume she is older. Now that she is walking around and "talking" I have noticed that most kids we encounter are just not "nice". When she sees other kids she smiles, waves, tries to give them toys, tries to play with them, tries to dance or asks them to follow. She is gently engaging, kind, welcoming and encourages others to join her but most kids turn away, grab their mom, some pout, or worse charge her if she is standing by them. Perhaps her size is the root of the problem since even kids expect her to be able to communicate like them (with words instead of gestures) and may be less receptive to what seems like an older child acting like a "baby".

What's a mom to do? Yes I know that kids this age and very self centered by the nature of their development stage but isn't it the parents' job to encourage them to acknowledged others? Very much like it's our job to make them sleep naps, eat veggies, wash hands, etc.

I always stay by her and make sure she is not "attacking" the kids. She does not yell or charge them... on the contrary she slowly approaches seeking to make eye contact but she seems genuinely sad and disappointed when they won't engage. Usually the moms of these kids act as if we are not even there. They don't say hello or try to encourage their child to wave back or smile. Now that said, I'm not expecting them to have a play date while we shop for clothes or groceries but how could a greeting and a smile hurt? Are we that uncivil? I mean we're supposed to live in a friendly city.

Regardless, I have to say I'm at a loss. I don't want her to feel discouraged or change her natural reaction to involve others. I want her to be the one who thinks of other kids, the one who shares her toys and asks others to join her play but I don't know how to explain or make her feel better when she's snubbed. I'd love your thoughts and advice. Please tell me how you deal with similar situations or if you're the mom who acts as if other kids and parents are not there, can you explain? Maybe if I understand your point of view I can formulate a way to better deal with my child's disappointment. Help me be a better mom. Share your comments as long as they are constructive I'm all ears.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adventure at the Park

It's Tuesday and I got travel on my mind with my tot... travel to far away places where it feels like fall. But reality sinks in when I consider that in the next three months we already have major travel and events planned: My brother's wedding in early Nov, my godparent's 50th wedding anniversary in Monterry, MX; two friends' weddings; three birthdays; a few bridal and baby showers. That's not even considering the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel! So how can we fulfill our travel urge without further stressing our already packed calendar, or wallets?

How about the park? Yes the PARK. Any park you and your kids like as long as it's an actual park and not just a playground Look for picnic tables, trees, and an open area to run and play. Here are some tips to make your everyday trip to the park feel like you're on holiday.

  • Make sure to pack the essentials: change of clothing for all kids (and maybe for the adults also), sunblock, bug spray, first aid kit, camera, snacks, and plenty of water. Music is also nice so bring a radio, iPod, etc. if you can.
  • Prepare your age appropriate activities: scavenger hunts, nature walks, bike ridding, races, crafts, Frisbees, catch or football, etc. Some great memories of travel as kids for my brother and I include visits to parks where we met up with family for food, fun, games, and community. Try to make it a daylong affair (at least 5 hours) or if you have small children half day (3 or 4 hours max)
  • Plan a picnic or cook-out. Yes you can run to a fast food place and pick-up something but that is much more ordinary than "special" food packed in a basket or waiting for the burgers and hotdogs to be done while mom or dad stand at the grill.
  • If you have a small or medium tent bring one with you and set it up. It works great for young kids as a place to nap or older kids as a fort. It can be a changing room, a shelter from sun or unexpected rain, etc.

The key to a great day is to approach it as an adventure. From collecting rocks, leaves, and insects; to playing tag- your day at the park with the kids can be as much fun as any other trip sans the airfare, bags, and hotel.
Reality: there's nothing like your own bed after a long fun day especially for your tots.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tips to Make Travel with Kids Easier

In my last blog I talked about how children travel through life stages and change us in the process. Vacations and trips also afford us the opportunity for experiences that help shape our character and that of our kids. With the long holiday weekend ahead of us I’d like to offer you our proven tricks to make the process of traveling with kids less stressful and more enjoyable.
  • Pack only enough supplies for your first day of travel. Of course make sure to bring extras in case you encounter delays but either use a service or buy the items when you arrive at your destination so that you don’t have to lug all the diapers, food, formula, bath items etc. You can shop online and ship your package to your travel destination so that your baby supplies are waiting for you when you arrive.
  • Use a CARES harness instead of a car seat on a place. Juggling the luggage, stroller, child, diaper bag, etc. is already hard enough why make it harder with a car seat added to the mix. Yes you want your kids to be safe on the plane but if they are 1 to 4 yrs old (or for special needs kids) you can check your car seat with your luggage and use a CARES harness on the flight. Even better, you can add the GoGo Kids Travelmate to your convertible car seat and use it as a stroller in the airport and then gate check it right before boarding and use the CARES on the plane. It is super easy to use, weighs about 1 lb and keeps your kids safe and secure during flight.
  • Consider renting your major baby items. Whether you’re flying or driving not having to bring the stroller, car seat, crib, playpen, etc. will save lots of room, hassle, and/or extra baggage fees. Most major cities have companies that specialize in baby equipment rentals which are reasonably priced and very clean. In San Antonio, you can visit us at www.mytotstravel.com.
  • Stops are a great tool. If you’re driving with a child or children older than one but younger than four make sure you factor in several stops… about 1 every 2 hours… and that you take into account their routines. Are they most active in the morning or afternoon? Do they like books, music, movies/cartoons? If your child starts to get really fussy it is always best to stop and let them regain their composure out of the seat. Of course if they are napping don’t stop.
  • Use music to set the mood and silence when appropriate. My child LOVES music. Since birth we noticed that she is emotionally engaged and gets energized if the song is upbeat and slows down when the beat is slower. With this in mind I have made compilation CD’s for all our trips (compilations on your iPod will work also). Trying to be prepared I have a “favorites” mix, a “fast & fun” mix, and a “winding down” mix. They are in our changer and we use them as necessary. If she is awake and would normally be running around we play the fast &fun mix and dance and goof-off along with her. To get her to wind down we try her sleep music and obviously when she is acting up or getting cranky we try the favorites since we know these always get her attention. Sometimes we also just turn it off or rely on mom’s bad signing since she likes it so much. Of course if your children are older let them make their own mixes and if they don’t have portable music devices take turns listening to their CDs.
  • Toys and games and props, oh my! For the little ones, bring their comforting friends (stuffed animals, blankies, books, etc.) and for the older ones allow one small bag for their fun (video games, books, etc.). Little ones love new things so you might save one or two small toys for the trip. Interactive games are a lot of fun for older kids so bring a list of ones you can try in the car like “I Spy” or “the alphabet game”. You can also ask your school aged children to help you compile a record of the trip and assign the a task such as take a picture of every town we go by or list the cities, states, etc we cross during the trip. The more you interact or keep them busy the shorter the trip will be for all of you.
  • Make the drive a journey worth remembering for your children. Some of my most treasured memories and biggest bonding moments with my family came during a car trip. We talked about school, family, movies, songs, books and life decisions. My parents always engaged us in conversations that made us feel grown up and important while allowing us to share with them our views and concerns. It always seemed so much easier to talk in the car. So ask the questions and let them talk. Find lessons and teachable moments in your conversations but mostly just let them feel like their views are important to you.
  • Don’t underestimate the types of things you can do with kids. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean that every trip you take has to be Disney powered or that you can only visit theme parks and water parks. Go off the beaten path. Take your kids on hikes or to remote towns. Help them learn to appreciate nature, or art, or food or other cultures as much as you do. Let them learn with you that there is more to the world than the way we live. The key here is just to be prepared. Do a little research before you go. Shop and wash along the way to carry a lighter load. Don’t hesitate… your kids might like the dude ranch more than Six Flags.
  • Get organized once you arrive. Create areas in your hotel room (or guest room) designated as kitchen, changing table, and play so that you can easily access all your needs.

Accept that travel with children is different from your days of traveling alone. You have to consider them, their needs, their safety and their enjoyment even more than your own.Remember that it is as much about the journey as the destination. You can’t control all factors just be prepared and enjoy the detours thrown your way. In John Steinbeck’s wise words, “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting the hang of it...

Could I actually be getting the hang of this? Every once in a while when I manage to make it through a day where my daughter didn't cry because I left for work; when she's taking both naps, eating, and generally in a good mood; when I get a few chores done and a little work and she hasn't had a melt down I start to think that maybe I know what I'm doing. Then as if expecting to be struck by lighting because I dared to think it I quickly rummage through my day to find the part that wasn't good. I try to find the area where I "messed-up". How odd. I really should just focus on all the progress and savor these days since they don't usually occur consecutively. But I must be doing something right. Recently I find myself as the advice giver. My other mom and dad friends have started asking me about doctors, shots, daycare, trips, toys, etc. Really? You want my opinion? I was baffled until I came across an interesting article in Parenting Magazine. This article talked about the 6 friends every mom needs. At the top of that list was the "mom in the same boat" friend. So finally the light came on! It's about having been there and done that and my friends with children a few months to a year younger than my little one figure I can speak from very recent experience. So on that note... we are due for our 18 month follow up. Once again we will be faced with 3 or 4 vaccines and now a very active toddler that hates holding still. I realize that although we hate seeing her upset we do seem to have the hang of the ordeal and was happy to offer a friend, who talked about crying when her baby got her first shots, a little advice. Or course if you have other tips or tricks you'd care to share we'd love to hear what's worked for you. When you take a little one to the doctor for shots consider:
•Having the shots at the end of the visit. (ask if not standard practice)
•Dressing them prior to the shots and doing so in clothes that won't hurt or irritate the shot area. If they're older than one but younger than three consider clothes that covers the area or they will pick at the band aids.
•Giving them a pain reliever right before appointment.
•Being ready with distractions... sing songs, play with toys, make silly faces... anything to get them to focus on you and not the needle.
•Asking that the more painful of the shots be given at the end. The order of vaccine injections should be the DPTaP-Hib vaccine followed by the PCV.
•"Cycling" with their little legs and rub the injection site if the nurse didn't.
•Having a bottle ready. Sucking helps pain so if you weren't already holding your child pick them up (being held also helps the pain perception) and give them a bottle or breastfeed them.
For us these tricks have made the process very smooth. We split her shots into two visits each time so we have had quite a few times to try these out. Our daughter usually doesn't even cry until the 2nd or 3rd shot and then the crying only lasts as long as it takes for me to pick her up and put a bottle in her mouth. Yes, I know that according to the Mom BIBLE I should have weaned her off the bottle by now but hey, that's a whole different blog!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stress-Free Vacation Tips


We're parents who happen to love travel so we know what it's like to take a trip with a baby and or toddler. Having packed our bags and made it to our destination we've faced a few bumps along the road that have made us want to pack our bags and head back home but we stuck it out and learned from our experiences. With vacation season upon us we thought sharing a few of these insights might be helpful. Happy travels!

Get organized…
Every parent knows that organization is the key to de-stressing just about anything so vacations or trips are really no exception. Once you are at your destination create designated spaces for key tasks.
     Set-up a changing station. We like the desks in most hotel rooms for this. Place a plush towel with your changing mat on top of it and stack your diapers wipes and other essentials on this same table. Move the lamp if necessary or use it.
     Designate a "kitchen" even if you are just in a standard room. This may mean you use another of the tables or side tables. You just have to keep all related items together so your bottles, baby food, snacks, formula, etc. are all in one spot. If you are not in a suite with a kitchen our favorite spot is the bathroom counter where we also place a towel next to the sink and dry our bottles upside down once we have washed them.
     Select a play space. Hopefully you remembered to bring toys, books, etc to keep baby entertained so find a spot in the room… a drawer, a lower shelf or a nice corner of the room so that baby knows where to find things and you can corral the clutter.

Accept the new reality of schedules
Most babies and toddlers thrive on schedules but that seems like an oxymoron when paired with a vacation. Not so. If you factor in naps and meal times it actually helps you plan your activities and get more bang for your vacation buck.
     Consider how your baby naps… if he or she can do so in a stroller or car plan a walk (to view the sights) or drive (to get to your next destination or to enjoy the scenery) during nap time.
     Stay Close. If you know your child only naps in his or her crib splurge for a hotel that is close to the action (beach or downtown) so you can come back and allow them to nap. You can take that time to rest yourselves… after all it is a vacation.
     Baby on my back. Another option is to wear your baby. A front carrier or a backpack carrier might be an option but some babies don't enjoy this so test it out at home well before vacation time.
     Food for thought. Remember that although young babies can be fed on-the-go and toddlers like to graze you have to plan for meals. Lots of healthy snacks are good for toddlers but keeping items cold can be challenging. Invest in a good soft cooler that you can use with Ice Packs and consider using powder so you only have to make what they'll consume. Don't forget that if you will not have access to distilled or other "safe" water you should bring your own and you will have to keep that at least cool if not cold.
     Early dinner. Although we might enjoy a more adult and romantic 7:30 dinner eating at 5:30 is more "kid-friendly". You will not interfere with sleep time, you have more room in a less full restaurant, and a much shorter wait for your food.
Generally the idea is that you should work with your child's schedule and try to use it in your favor when planning your activities.

Make peace with modified plans
Having kids means being comfortable with change and the happiest parents are those that can go with the flow when things don't go according to plan. If that means leaving something early or changing your "preferred" sites to visit parenting means you have to roll with the punches.
     You'll regret it. Sure it would have been great if you could have stayed at the theme part until closing but unless your child can really sleep in a stroller you would have regretted it. It makes for a much more enjoyable experience to work with your child rather than against them. Most importantly you can have as much fun in two half days as you could in one long day and you and your family may be much better off for it.

Remember that it's about the journey
Regardless of any specific activity or location you get to visit remember to enjoy they journey. Embrace the craziness that is traveling with kids and realize that soon they'll be adults and these precious moments will be the stuff of great memories and fun family stories that you'll long for once they're grown.

Start Traveling... bring the kids!


If you are a new parent or if you are new to traveling with kids the mere thought or taking a trip with a little one (or little ones) seems overwhelming.  It can make the simplest weekend trip feel like a voyage and it can turn lots of us off to the whole idea... but it really doesn't have to be that way if you are prepared and use all the tools available to you.
My husband and I were avid travelers who loved to take a trip simply for the sake of taking a trip and then we decided that it was time to start a family and we welcomed our first child.  We both sincerely thought that she would only change that which we allowed her to change in our lives... how naive... she changed it ALL… mostly for the better but she changed it without our "permission".  
When we decided that we were ready to take our first trip as a family we were overwhelmed with all the extra stuff we needed to bring and all the extra stuff we needed to PLAN for.  As we struggled with how to make our trip fun and relaxing for everyone we realized we were not alone and this gave "birth" to our next child… www.MyTotsTravel.com
Through this site we hope to provide parents, grandparents, or anyone traveling with kids an easier way to travel. We also hope to be able to bring relevant tips and links that will help you plan and enjoy all your trips without having to leave the kids behind.
Check back frequently to find not only useful ideas and links but also cool products for travel.
Happy travels!