How to Travel With A Toddler

Laugh at the things that don’t go quite right and think about the big picture – you are fortunate to have health, happiness and family and are going on a trip!!

Holiday Travel Time: This Flight Attendant Knows

It’s that time of year; time to travel with your young children. Whether it is travel by car or by air, or any type of transport for that matter, travelling with a toddler can be really tough, really exhausting and demands that you be prepared every step of the way. Really!

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Think You Are Prepared?

Great to double check! May I suggest being “over-prepared”! You never know what will be ahead of you and all comforts of home, routine and resources are no longer options.

Travel Tips For Parents With Toddlers

There are many challenges when it comes to travelling with a two year old. Preparation for travel helps make your life easier, and frankly, is a MUST! Forward thinking and having many options on hand is the key to a successful transport with children of all ages, My family trip remains a fond memory instead of a disaster to try and forget.

Halfway Around the World

We returned from a very long trip, halfway around the world, boarded and disembarked three airplanes in 24 hours –  my husband and a two year old toddler. I returned sane, but I will admit, it was NOT easy. I am a seasoned traveller as it is literally, my profession, however, nothing can fully prepare you for hours and hours of confinement and the sheer exhaustion that is inevitable when it comes to travel and little ones. But you can make it easier. Be prepared when travelling with a toddler!

Ok, I’ve stated, and restated my main premise here. Here’s what to do!

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Before The Big Day

Even before you board that flight, for example, or before you leave the house and attempt to attain on-time departure or stay within determined scheduled deadlines so as to keep to your plans, stress begins to loom. The pressure to remember everything so as to not go without any comforts or needs is important to you and will assist to make this vacation a wonderful experience. It is a tall order!

Make Lists Well Ahead of Time

Create concise, simple, but comprehensive and complete lists utilizing any of our fabulous means of list assistance; mobile phone apps, or pen and paper if this works for you. Categorise in four simple lists; Toddler, Dad, Mom, Family Stuff. Think about basics and then add details. For example – Sleep, Eat, Wear, Change, Entertain, Importants (documents, passports, wallet, keys, phone).

Break down your trip and write it down…. If you are visiting someone for an event, focus on that. What will you wear? Have you packed the gift? Do you have directions and phone numbers. Do you have all camera cables and electronics’ parts and bits?

Again, check you have your pertinent documents and passports for everyone. (I will repeat this again just for emphasis 😉

It’s Not The Destination, It’s The Journey?

I am sure you are aware of the challenges as you are a seasoned mother and it is generally challenging travelling to the supermarket, for instance!  I am not going to sugar-coat it; not after what I recently went through and after all I witness onboard my international flights.

We can, however make the journey go as smooth as possible by arming ourselves with tools to combat all obstacles that may come our way.

First

Arm yourself with patience. Get sleep, pack ahead of time and try to eliminate stressors. Yes, I said eliminate. If you are prone to run a little late, start getting ready earlier. Your little one doesn’t understand all the fuss and he or she is not the reason for being late, or for us forgetting their few simple needs. Don’t forget that comfort toy or blanket. Children don’t understand hurry up!

Eat good food before you get going or pack healthy snacks.

Go to the bathroom.

You get it; take care of all basic needs and get ready to go – help make it a good trip! Sometimes we are so busy being in a bad mood we forget the positives and forget to have fun! Laugh at the things that don’t go quite right and think about the big picture – you are fortunate to have health, happiness and family and are going on a trip!!

Essential Packing

Ok – so what to pack? Attempt with all your might, to pack light. How? Pack smart.

Keep clothing to a minimum. Think ” All-purpose”! Pinterest, for example, offers ideas to mix and match pieces of your outfit in order to create many different outfits. If you have access to a washer and dryer, pack only two pairs of pyjamas, for instance. Or one – perhaps your T-shirt can double as a nightie one night. Whatever you can leave at home, just leave it. I found I overpacked clothing and it was valuable space as I had gifts to transport back home, not to mention, things seem to pack nicely once, but why is it so difficult to repack the same way?

I consulted several Pinterest blogs and various websites regarding packing essentials etc. That was the easy part. What takes a little more time and creativity is sifting through the many ideas and preparing for your unique family.

The best ideas are simple and don’t require store bought toys. Do-it-yourself activity kits are a great idea and mine was a big hit, and an absolute saviour when it came to confinement on an aircraft for a full day.

Visit your local craft or dollar store and purchase inexpensive stickers, paper, coloured pencils, felt shapes and pipe cleaners, pom poms, puzzles, on and on… put them in various pencil-type cases and easily pack them away; ready to entertain and occupy.

My son loved popping colourful pom poms into an empty water bottle I was given onboard. This is just an example of what simple things can entertain for some time. When my son tired of watching his favourite animation, and when music  and playing got old, he enjoyed playing with Mom and Dad. It may have only entertained him for awhile, but the variety helped distract and then he would go back to his iPad games and animated movies, until he fell asleep periodically.

Note: Although electronics have quite a negative placement in our lives, I feel that there are appropriate times and there are many devices that are damn near essential – even though our parents or parents – parents did not have the same.

Lastly

Have you got the basics covered? Remember a change of clothes for everyone.   The first time I travelled with my son, he was one and a half and he threw up all over me at the airport, prior to embarkment. He had a change of clothes, however, I was an unfortunate, smelly mess!

  • Change of comfy clothes
  • Nappies, changing pad, creams, etc
  • Handy wipes and disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Snacks of all kinds – fresh fruits and vegetables and biscuit types
  • Hydrate – Bottles of milk are allowed for infants. Small juice boxes.
  • Sippy cups or bottles
  • Activity packs
  • Electronics
  • Passports and documents

Enjoy your travels!!

Positive Discipline for Toddlers

Unfortunately, young toddlers do not have much of a conscience. It hasn’t begun to develop quite yet. So what do you do when your toddler bites or hits you? Or throws your iPhone in the toilet, or throws a clay potted plant down the marble staircase?

Positive Reinforcement

Before I share some thoughts on discipline for young toddlers or infants, let’s first consider deterring naughty behaviour in the first place. Positive reinforcement of good behaviour goes a long way to assist in encouraging our young ones to feel a healthy pull to look for guidance from caregivers and eventually learn to make decisions on their own on how to behave well. Young children require parents to teach them what good behaviour is. Children love to accept praise for behaviour displayed and therefore repeat acts based on the feedback parents and caregivers provide.

Ok, this is a good premise for an older toddler who has the capacity to wonder about consequences or rewards in advance. Positive reinforcement warrants a whole separate post. For now, I will focus on practicing positive reinforcement and insisting on consistency.

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Tips: How to Discipline One and Two Year Olds

As our babies turn into toddlers we begin to think about discipline. No wonder; they start to get into everything at an alarming rate! We want to keep them from harm and also begin to teach our little ones what is right and what is wrong.

Unfortunately, young toddlers do not have much of a conscience. Conscience hasn’t begun to develop quite yet. So what do you do when your toddler bites or hits you? Or throws your iPhone in the toilet, or throws a clay potted plant down the marble staircase?

From the time around your baby’s first birthday, he is capable of understanding what the word “no” means. Your command of “no” may only be accepted at that very moment and may be forgotten later on. With repetition, your wishes will be absorbed, slowly, and your little one will understand in days, or weeks, or maybe even months. Consistent repetition is key. Say, “mommy doesn’t like that,” or “not allowed, dangerous,” or “that is not allowed, but you may have this, what does this do?”

Babies are mostly in favour of cooperating on a level they may not even know yet, but he is not ready for hard consequences and doesn’t understand your anger. Your child is not quite able to learn anything useful from your punishment so even if you are infuriated with your little one’s behaviour, if you are running late and he has decided to run and play chase, or even if your smart little person has figured out how to take his seatbelt off and you are on the freeway, yelling, harsh scolding, any loss of temper or even hitting of any kind will have no bearing on him. He does not understand any of your eruptions or relate the outbursts from you to any bad behaviour that you deem happening.

At this young age it is better to be clever and have a win-win scenario with your toddler. You can create the scenario. Tantrums are better to be avoided, if you can, until wee ones can get a better handle on understanding their emotions. At this stage, life can be very frustrating and everything is so very new to your infant. I recommend that you DO NOT try for absolute control and pick your battles. Perhaps life issues can be organised so that it seems like your little one makes a choice you can accept.

Foreseeing possible obstacles and areas that may bring you to the “red zone” with your toddler and instead leading him or her to the result you want and guiding him into behaving as you want him to behave can be achieved. See the rocks and steer around them. How do I do this? Distraction. Healthy distraction. I do not promise treats, nor do I give in to things I do not want to offer. No sweets, no extra time on electronics, and no, he cannot have everything he wants. I am armed and ready with alternatives.

For example, I know that getting my little one to leave the park is sometimes difficult, so I am prepared with his favourite blanket and a bottle of milk. I go to the park almost daily a couple hours before his nap. He is ready to leave the park and volunteers to sit in his stroller to enjoy his refreshment. It has worked so far and is a routine that is comfortable. He is tuckered out and welcomes the wind down.

Another example; after playing with numerous toys from my son’s toy boxes there is a massive mess to contend with. I want to teach my son to help me and pick up his things when finished playing. If I insist that he pick up his blocks, he will not. If I make a game of it and be creative, I can start to instill the habit of what comes after play and what behaviour is to be expected.

There is going to be trial and error, there are going to be lapses, moodiness and defiance. With calm, yet stern guidance and clever “manipulation” on a very consistent basis, you will find battles lessening and your child will grow up learning lessons quickly. Be prepared to repeat the same instructions in very few words as possible and let the little things go at this point.

Remember

  • If we are late for work, late for the cinema, or late for ANYTHING, it is not our child’s fault and our toddlers don’t understand that they need to provide extra cooperation and quit taking the shoe off you just put on.
  • If we throw all sorts of toys around and muck around dumping out crayon boxes or blocks on the floor, it might be that our little one may throw spaghetti on the floor, as curiosity does get the best of toddlers as part of their discovery and learning.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. If you yell obscenities at the driver in front of you for having absolutely no skill behind the wheel, whisper under your breath or try and just think what you’d like to say as your little one will be quite proud to learn a new word.
  • Keep at it – you will start to see results and the payoff is priceless! You are doing amazing!
  • If you get very frustrated and are overwhelmed – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is ok. It will pass. Walk away. Take a breath and tell someone how you are feeling, when you can. Let your toddler get upset and cry. Just keep them safe and take a minute if you need. Do your best and learn from each situation.
  • You and your son or daughter will have a lifetime getting to know one another through the changes that are life.

Growth is Important

Let your child have this time, and times to come after, to learn and develop. We can provide a healthy, nurturing environment. I wish to teach my child to ultimately think for himself and learn what is right and what is wrong. When it comes time for your child to decide when to be good and when to be naughty on purpose, which one he decides will depend largely on how he feels about the adults who are special to him and have power over him. If at the next stage of growing up he or she feels that you as their caregiver and parent are loving and approving and on his side, he will want (for the most part) to please you and he will behave as you wish (with lapses). Of course, do not mistake unhealthy giving – in and lack of discipline a way to show love or approval. It is in the best interest of the child. Be gentle, and compromise where it makes sense, however, never feel badly about a decision to say “no” where you need! You are the boss and as a leader you can listen and be attentive, AND make a final decision for the good of the toddler.