Family vacations, road trips and summer go hand and hand.
Whether you’ll be on the road for days or just hours, the following tips are bound to make everyone happy and the time spent on the road more enjoyable.
All it takes is a little planning, some creative ideas and you’ll be off on a family adventure you won't soon forget. It may even turn out so well you’ll want to do it again next year.
Hold a Pre-trip Family Meeting
Plan the route together including where you’ll stop along the way and make some decisions re: what songs will be added to a family playlist (for singalongs). Discuss what types of car games and activities each family member wants to do.
You may want to plan to play games like “I Spy” and The Alphabet game (where you find each letter of the alphabet on signs or cars). Create a binder for each child with travel activities, games and a map inserted into clear plastic sleeves. Pack some dry erase markers. Eliminate the "Are we there yet?" questions by having your kids follow the route on the map.
Get Active During Rest Stops
Whenever you stop for food, gas or a bathroom break make a point of doing some active games like Frisbee, playing tag, or timed races around the car (see if your kids can beat their time from the last stop) etc.
Refreshments to Go
Stock a cooler with fruits and veggies (e.g. grapes, apples, baby carrots and celery), homemade energy balls, protein bars, and granola bars.
Try to keep sugary snacks to a minimum to avoid sugar highs and reduce backseat fights.
For long trips, pack up different non-perishable snacks for variety each day.
Make a water only 'in the car' rule. Bring refillable water bottles (labelled for each family member). Pack a 4 L jug of water and refill individual bottles at rest stops.
Encourage drinking half an hour before a planned stop so everyone stays hydrated but you don’t have multiple pleas for bathroom breaks along the way..
Limit the use of electronics by implementing a point system to earn screen time. Activities like family game participation or individual reading/ journal time can be given a certain number of points..
Older kids could earn more personal screen time by using their smart phones to look up information about the area when you’re driving through and sharing it with the rest of the family.
Prepare for Motion Sickness
In addition to a first aid kit you may want to consider packing a travel sickness bag. Such a kit should include a large sealable bag packed with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, a hydrating drink like Gatorade, bottle of water, motion sickness meds, bread sticks or soda crackers, sea bands, a couple of plastic bags, a second large sealable bag and a garbage bag.
*Surprise bags either individual or group (shared activity) to be revealed at select times during the trip.
*Buy baking sheets from the dollar store and use as magnetic and activity boards (affix a peel and stick white board or chalkboard sheet). Kids can then use magnetic letters or play with toy cars on a hand drawn roadway. If your child wants to make friendship bracelets simply bring along some embroidery string and a roll of tape to secure the string to a baking sheet.
*Keep entertainment within arm’s reach by filling a suctioned shower caddy with toys and games and securing it to the side window they are sitting next to..
*Make car naps or individual music/podcast time more enjoyable by bringing along throw pillows packed inside regular sized pillowcases and a different coloured sleep mask for each child.
*When travelling with young kids, keep food mess to a minimum by covering your car seats with a fitted sheet. Use twin size sheets for bucket seats and a double or queen for bench seats.
*Make snack time fun by filling plastic Easter eggs with surprise snacks and pack them in an egg carton.
*Before the trip have young kids make their own edible necklaces (e.g. with pretzels, Cheerios, Fruit Loops on string licorice) to enjoy along the way,
*In addition to non-perishable snacks like granola bars and trail mix, assemble and pack single portions of healthy snacks like celery and peanut butter, or assorted raw veggies and dip in lidded mason jars. Place the peanut butter or dip in the bottom and add the vegetables on top for a relatively mess-free snack.
*Create a DIY travel LEGO case by repurposing a metal lunchbox. Insert a green LEGO board and fill with LEGOs.
*Make an “I Spy” bottle by filling a 2 L pop bottle or sealable clear plastic bag with rice, small toys, beads, buttons, and other colorful objects. Create a checklist (visual or text) to go along with the bottle (or bag) and have your child cross off each item once it’s been spied.
Last but not least, bring clean BBQ tongs for all those dropped toys and sippy cups.
For more 'Family Road Trip Tips & Ideas' watch...
Life can be busy, but when it is, it’s all that more important to find ways to stay connected.
Here are 5 good ways to keep that bond with your kids despite the busyness.
Unplug and Be Present
Tech-free interaction is key to getting and staying in touch with our kids. Live in the moment and enjoy it. Kids grow up far too fast. Be in the moment as much as possible every day.
Bond Over a Project
We can all benefit from a team accomplishment. Schedule a basement clean up or a Saturday morning house clean. Then celebrate a job well done with a family reward.
Schedule Family Dinners
Eating together as a family every night may not be doable but schedule as many family dinners as possible and make the most of them. Incorporate some fun questions and silly games.
You can never hug too much. Kids of all ages need physical contact. Hug frequently, give shoulder massages, back scratches and foot rubs.
Life can be busy but taking the time to put a love note in your young child's lunch box, leaving a post-it note on your teen's bedroom door or sending regular thinking of you texts or notes of encouragement can go a long way to building self-esteem and making your child feel loved.
How do you stay connected when life is super busy? Please share your tips and ideas about what works for your family.
Please leave your comments below. Thanks and have a beautiful day!
Today’s kids are so plugged into technology it’s little wonder, grandparents feel so disconnected from their grandchildren. Aside from having a basket for them to place their devices in when they enter your home here are a few ways to carve out a little ‘connection’ with the younger generation.
Share a Favourite Spot
Take your grandchildren to a spot that has a special meaning to you. It could be a hiking trail, a beach or a park. Sharing your love of nature can be a catalyst for bonding.
Sharing a little family history with your grandkids can go a long way to making them feel part of a greater ‘whole’. What fond memories do you have of your childhood or their mom or dad’s? Share them via a story swap. Decide on a topic and then either take turns telling the story to each other or with older kids, write down your stories and then swap them.
Garden with the Grandkids
If you have a green thumb share your love of gardening with your grandchildren. Get them some kid-sized gardening gloves and tools and introduce them to seeds and soil. Gardening offers up not only some quality time together but it’s also a good way to teach kids about nature and sustainability.
Crafting is more than simply being creative. A joint craft project is a good way to engage and share in the benefits of working together as a team.
Do you have some good tips for connecting with the younger generation? If so, I'd love to hear them.
Please leave your comments below. Thanks and have a beautiful day!
Has texting replaced talking or has yelling at your kids become more common than playing with them? Granted, life can be busy, but being in constant ‘disconnect’ is unhealthy and can really have a negative impact on all members of the family.
Instead, find creative ways to reconnect and grow your relationship.
Here are some of my favourite ways to connect with the young people in my life…
Take Your Kids on a Date
We typically schedule dates with our spouses, so why not our kids? Carve out some one-on-one time, take them out to breakfast, lunch and a matinee, or be game to try an activity of their choosing.
Share an Adrenaline Rush
Want to really bond with your kids? How about taking them bungie jumping, zip lining, or white water rafting? A little too adventurous for you, how about go carting, bumper cars or horseback riding? The key is to get your heart racing with an exciting activity.
End the Day with a Snuggle and a Chat
Bedtime is often the best time of the day to catch up. Create a one-on-one night time ritual with each of your kids. You can encourage conversation with questions like ‘What’s the best, worst or silliest thing that happened to you today?’ If you child isn’t too talkative, that’s okay. Just having you present and available to snuggle and listen can mean the world to a child.
I'd love to hear about some of the ways you enjoy connecting with your kids, grandchildren or nieces and nephews.
I welcome your comments below.
Are your evenings a blur of extra curricular activities, household chores, and getting ready for the next day?
You’re not alone.
Meltdowns – they happen more often than not on weeknights and during the most challenging part of the day when we’re juggling schedules, dinner prep, chores and homework. The cause of the meltdowns is simple – family members are after tired, hungry and irritable at the end of a long day.
But what’s a family to do?
Following are some weeknight survival tips for families who have had enough of weeknight chaos and are looking to make some simple yet positive changes.
GET ON SCHEDULE
First off, you need to backtrack. Getting behind schedule is a major factor to weeknight dilemmas. The problem is we often miscalculate how long it takes to do something and to travel from point A to point B.
Work in reverse
If you begin with the end in mind you can usually figure out what it will take to meet your deadline. For instance, if your kids have an 8:30 p.m. bedtime, you’ll want to make sure dinner is finished by 6:30, the food needs to be prepared and on the table by 6 p.m. Factor in sufficient time for homework, chores, and extra curricular activities and if your kids are really young – bedtime stories.
Add a cushion
No, I’m not talking about a sofa cushion – sitting on one too early in the evening will slow down your productivity and can actually add to your stress. There will be time for relaxing later. What I’m referring to is a time cushion – a buffer if you will, where you guard yourself against the worst-case scenario. By factoring in a 10 to 20 percent time cushion you’re better able to deal with the unexpected.
Have a game plan
Spend some time on the weekend planning for the week ahead. A good weekday/weeknight game plan includes menu planning for weekday meals (including school lunches and having a plan for when you're going to shop), reviewing what's on the family calendar and possible batch cooking for the week ahead.
Don't let others hold you up
Not allowing others slow you down can be challenging especially when you run into chatty co-workers or friends in the grocery store on the way home. One of the most effective things to do is to pull out your car keys, wave the keys, take a step back and say, “It’s been nice talking to you but I’ve got to run.”
Weeknight efficiency is all about staying on task and keeping to a schedule that works. Try not to get too distracted by things that come up but when they do, just try get back on track as quickly as possible.
Outsourcing at home can be as beneficial as it is at the office.
Adding another pair of hands into the mix can make a huge difference to the ease of your weeknights. Delegating can be as simple as having an older child play with a younger sibling while you’re making dinner, getting help folding the laundry, or having your spouse or child walk the dog.
Depending on your family situation you may want to consider outsourcing to a neighbouring teen who would appreciate the odd baby sitting or dog walking job.
Get your kids into the routine of using labeled folders to organize permission slips, homework, tests etc. so you can relax and review their paperwork after dinner when things have calmed down.
“I’ve got to do…”
Do you really? Granted there are times when you really need to do things like laundry but often we add unnecessary stress by just feeling we’ve got to do something when it really doesn’t need to be done just then.
Sometimes if you can shift things around to a time when you’re more clearheaded and not as tired, you can be much more productive even if it means getting up an extra 15 to 20 minutes earlier to throw the laundry into the dryer or make lunches.
“I can’t survive without multitasking.”
Can you survive the stress caused by forcing your brain to try to do two things at once? You see, trying to do too many things at the same time impedes our efficiency. Sure something simple like preparing veggies and chatting about your kid’s day is one thing but more involved tasks cooking dinner, folding clothes and helping your kids with their homework, or any tasks that have you running back and forth is counterproductive and unhealthy.
“Electronics save my sanity.”
Electronics as a whole do little to ease daily stress. In fact, studies have proven just the opposite is true. Spending too much time on your computer, cell, or watching TV can ramp up your anxiety level and is a prime distraction away from what should be your priority – your family.
Do yourself and your family a favor - don’t text or answer your cell, check your email, or zone out in front of the TV during weeknight family time. Also consider the example you're setting if you don't.
So having said the above, what are you going to do to simplify your weeknights?
If things are running along nicely most weeknights do you have an pearls of wisdom you would like to share?
I welcome your comments below.