This summer, whether you plan on taking a trip across the state or around the globe, let these tips from a seasoned mom make your journey a little more pleasant.
Your first step is to be prepared. Situations- “emergencies” in your child’s eyes- will arise. The juice will spill all over her shirt, her favorite crayon will break in two, and her doll might not be comfortable squished beside her. When you have an easy solution to pop right out of your bag, you’ll save yourself a 15 minute meltdown following each end-of-the-world catastrophe your toddler experiences. SubhanAllah, how those catastrophes seem to bombard you when all you are really wishing for is an hour of peace and quiet.
1. Pack all the necessities. Pack two extra outfits including socks, undershirts, and sweaters- no matter how warm it is. The airplane cabin or a car ride at night can get pretty chilly and the last thing you want to deal with is an uncomfortable or sick toddler. Also, the day of travel, dress your little one in comfortable layers so that he is always dressed right without having to change outfits every hour. And don’t forget to pack medications!
2. Try to book a red-eye flight or start your journey at night. Your little one will sleep a big portion of the trip, and who doesn’t want that?
3. Remember, your toddler is used to being inquisitive and discovering the world around her. When that world turns into a confined 5 square foot space surrounding her carseat or an airplane cabin, things get pretty mundane quickly. Keep things interesting. Pack an assortment (emphasis on ‘assortment’) of toys and little things to keep busy with. Here are some suggestions:
- Pack one of your kid’s favorite toys ahead of time (so that she misses it and gets excited when she sees it on the journey).
- Keep another toy (like a doll or stuffed toy) in mind to tuck in with your little one as you head out the door.
- Buy an interesting new toy. The best toys are those that pack light but encourage imaginative play so that your sweetie doesn’t run out of things to do. One of the best things I found is a little travel play-doh set. This will keep your toddler fascinated for hours.
- Buy a small coloring book, crayons, and stickers. Keep them all in a gallon size zipper bag so it’s easy to gather them all up when needed.
- Buy some little novelties. Take a look at the dollar aisle or your local craft store. Look for pipe cleaners, slinkies, ribbons, felt shapes, and crinkle paper. Unlike other toys, your toddler will have to figure out how to make these things work. These will probably get used once, but there are inexpensive and let your child try something new.
4. All this exciting play will make your little one hungry, so make sure you have plenty of snacks.
-Stick to mess-free finger foods.
- Carry snacks in individual sized portions (buy pre-packaged or pack yourself).
- Steer away from sugars and carbs for snacks. Load up on protein filled snacks. They will give your little one a constant supply of energy to prevent crankiness and keep her full for longer. Pack things like cheese sticks, granola bars with nuts or quinoa. For more meal-like snacks, try meat or spinach pies, hummus and vegetable sticks, and beans.
5. Every once in a while, when nothing else works, take your little one for a stroll. Walk up and down the airplane cabin or stop at a rest area.
Inshallah, your trip is an enjoyable one and you get there safely. With just enough planning, you can all enjoy the journey and the destination. Then hopefully your husband won’t have an excuse not to come on the next family vacation.
Rahaf recently finished her B.A. in Mathematics and is currently teaching part-time at a local Islamic school. She loves reading, writing, cooking, and exploring the world with her little 1 year old. Rahaf resides in Troy, MI.