25 DOs and DON’Ts for Travel With Small Children

25 DOs and DON’Ts for Travel With Small Children | thisgratefulmama.com

Through trial and error, we’ve learned some lessons about flying and traveling with small children.

Last year I shared a travel experience which included a public temper tantrum. Thankfully, not all trips include meltdowns. Travel is getting easier because the kids are older and because we’ve learned some lessons.

In October we went to Maine for our nephew’s wedding. We took a direct flight to Boston, then rented a car. We drove to Maine, taking in the beautiful New England fall colors.

We reached a new milestone – no tears, on either flight! Sure, there were moments requiring patience and each of us had cranky moments, especially with emergency bathroom trips. But overall, even travel days were characterized by joy.

I call that success.

While not every trip will go this smoothly, there are some things we can do to promote a positive outcome.

25 DOs and DON’Ts for Travel With Small Children

  1. DO Consider Alternate Routes – If you cannot find a direct flight, consider driving a leg. For us, a layover and second flight is just too much. Meltdowns ensue. Flying to Boston and driving 2 hours means more room to sit and sleep without being right on top of each other. And it saved some money on plane tickets.
  2. DON’T Expect A Nap– Travel is tiring. Travel is also exciting. Traveling over nap time does NOT guarantee a nap. Be grateful if a nap happens, but don’t get your undies in a bunch if it doesn’t.
  3. DO Have a Backup Plan – What soothes your child best? What can be used as a bargaining chip? Maybe a tablet, DVD Player, sucker, snack, toy, or book. I recommend at least one secret last-resort solution.
  4. DON’T Over Pack – ‘Being prepared’ is a good idea. But over-packing means carrying children along with heavy carry-on bags and luggage. Nobody wants to be a pack mule. Pack wisely with small and light weight items.
  5. DO Use Curb-Side Check In – See #4. Do not lug car seats through the airport.
  6. DON’T Waste Car Seat Bag Space – Checking car Seat bags is free. Take advantage! Fill empty space with lightweight bulky items like diapers and blankets.
  7. DO Get TSA Pre-Check – If someone traveling with you has TSA Pre-Check, have them book all tickets. Then everyone enjoys this coveted perk.
  8. DON’T Fear TSA – In our experience, security personnel have taken time to welcome kids and help us. Greet security with a smile and thank them. You want and need their help.
  9. DO Explain What Comes Next – Help transitions and ease fears by explaining what to expect (security, checking bags, boarding, sitting on the runway). Focus on how each step brings them closer to the ‘fun’ of taking off and arriving at your destination.
  10. DON’T Forget Compromise – A full travel day will not go as planned. When kids get squirrley, happily make an unplanned stop, take an impromptu walk, switch seats, buy a snack, or improvise.
  11. DO Plan For Emergencies – An extra change of clothes, diapers, pull-ups and wipes are necessary. Hand sanitizer, band aids and tissues cover most unexpected events. Carry on necessary medications (we need an inhaler, Benedryl & Epi-Pen).
  12. DON’T Worry About Others – Do your best to keep children reasonably quiet and from kicking seats. But worrying about others adds stress and won’t help anyone have a good flight. Focus on the kids and thank others for their patience if necessary afterwards.
  13. DO Bring No-Spill Cups – Don’t risk airline cups. A wet kid (or parent) just isn’t worth it. A no-spill squirt bottle or sippy cup will be a life saver on the flight and in the car. Bring empty and fill after security.
  14. DON’T Forget Snacks – A hungry child or parent is not at their best. Avoid being one big hangry family by packing healthy snacks. For a food allergy family, this is necessity – it can be difficult to find a safe snack. Never, ever travel without snacks. We pack carrots, celery, cheese sticks, apples, goldfish, pumpkin seeds, and freeze-dried corn or soybeans.
  15. DO Board Early – With little ones, getting situated with your carry-on is nearby is worth sitting on the plane for a little bit.
  16. DON’T Overestimate Your Child’s Bladder – Limit beverages and take extra bathroom trips.  Go while the seat belt sign is off – there is no guarantee it will stay off.
  17. DO Put Kids First – Duh. A travel day with kids is not about you. It just isn’t. Read until hoarse, hold your sleeping child with numb arms, listen to that song over and over. If they’re happy, go with it. If they have a good trip, so will you.
  18. DON’T Reject the Pacifier – Our daughter is 2, and isn’t allowed to have a pacifier during the day…but on a plane? Why, have it the whole flight! It soothed her ears, kept her quiet, and helped her nap. Not into pacifiers? Bring a favorite comfort item.
  19. DO Use the Play Area – Use hand sanitizer and set kids loose in the play area. They can climb, play and run while you sip coffee.
  20. DON’T Forget The Camera – Pictures of kids squealing with giddy delight as we ‘Blasted Off” are priceless. Digital photos are a great tool for distraction.
  21. DO Pray – Enlist others to pray for transitions, patience, health and for your actions, attitudes and words to honor God.
  22. DON’T Show Fear – Turbulence? FUN! They recognize our concern and magnify it. Keep it positive, no matter how bumpy.
  23. DO Laugh – there is no place for frustration about how things have gone or are going. LET IT GO and laugh it off.
  24. DON’T Forget A Noise Machine – Whether staying in a hotel or with family, there will be strange noises. Minimize the effect and promote sleep by packing their noise machine. We packed this one – compact and loud, with a night-light.
  25. DO Celebrate Small Victories – No tears on a flight? Make a big deal of good behavior. Great listening? Celebrate it. Child use the airplane bathroom? Congratulate them. Giving credit for small victories helps them feel accomplished.
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The thisgratefulmama 2015 FALL Family Bucket-List

2015 Fall Family Bucket List | thisgratefulmama.com

The 2015 fall bucket list focuses on activities to enjoy with your family during the fall season, with an emphasis on gratitude and service to others.

I hope these 100 ideas help you fill fall with joy. 

Hello, Fall!

Cook

 Events (Twin Cities)

Do

  • Play a board game
  • Start a Fall Family Tradition
  • Rake leaves and jump in the pile
  • Be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army (starts in November)
  • Set your fall schedule
  • Play backyard football with the whole neighborhood
  • Visit a new playground and have a picnic lunch
  • Help your kids start a nature collection
  • Plant tulip bulbs in your yard with the kids
  • Write letters to deployed service members
  • Spend the day cleaning the garage as a family before winter
  • Stay warm on a chilly night around a bonfire while enjoying hot cocoa and S’mores
  • Start a family prayer journal – keep track of requests and answers this school year
  • Volunteer to serve meals at Loaves and Fishes
  • Take a family photo shoot in the leaves
  • Make the most of dark evenings – have a candlelight dinner date after kids go to bed
  • Set goals for the school year and encourage each family member throughout the year
  • Spend an afternoon at Feed My Starving Children
  • Clean out the closets and give warm clothes, hats, mittens and coats to those in need
  • Go to a local high school football game
  • Let your child do chores to earn money to give on Sunday at church
  • Deliver Meals on Wheels in your area
  • Help the kids write letters and mail them to grandparents and extended family
  • Spend the afternoon doing homework and reading together at the library
  • Sign up for the family oriented fall Public Programs in the MN Valley Wildlife Refuge
  • Start a Gratitude Journal
  • Get lost in Minnesota’s Largest Corn Maze in Brooklyn Park, MN (Sept 19 – Oct 25)
  • Gather all the neighbors and play an epic game of flashlight tag
  • Download and start the JOY DARE from A Holy Experience 
  • Create your own family Fall Scavenger Hunt and take a nature walk together
  • Read fall-themed books as a family
  • Spend the next large family gathering playing a huge game of Capture the Flag
  • Say Thank you to those who go out of their way to help your family
  • Collect acorns and have some fun with Acorn Races
  • Help your child take photos of fall leaves
  • Help your child find a pen-pal and help them write and send ‘snail mail’
  • Practice gratitude
  • Clean out the toy box together and take your children to donate items
  • Have a movie night with blankets, jammies and home made popcorn

Make

Go (Minnesota)

7 Tips For Moms When Your Spouse Travels For Work

spouse travel

Whether you stay at home with your kids, or work during the day, life is just a BIT more complicated when your spouse travels for work. Suddenly, your parenting partner is unavailable during evening hours, and your kids are missing their daddy (all while YOU are missing your spouse!).

A traveling spouse means you’re IT. You and the kids are on your own for meals, activities, bedtime and emergencies.

Per Murphy’s Law, SOMETHING unplanned will happen. At our house, it’s usually a sick child. I’m not sure how this happens, but literally, the moment my husband’s plane leaves the ground, one of my previously healthy children falls ill.

Almost. Every. Time.

Weeks without daddy can be especially difficult when a child is ill. Now, no one is getting out of the house. This means no adult interaction for the mama, and no alternative entertainment from friends, family, school, or activities.

Whether everything goes as planned, or not, here are some practical tips for thriving when we’re the one on our own with our little ones.

 

7 Tips For Moms While Your Spouse Travels For Work

1. Practice Gratitude

I know, I know, you’ve seen me write this before. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but for me, it’s crucial. My situation looks mighty different when I look though a lens of gratitude for all the blessings God has provided to our family, and specifically, to me.

When the weeks or days (or HOURS) get long, remember to be grateful that your spouse HAS a job (hopefully one they enjoy and are challenged by). Savor that your kids are amazing, and that you have the chance to see them every day (and acknowledge that your traveling spouse does not get to)

If you’re a stay-at-home mama, be grateful YOU CAN. It is a special privilege not given to many.

2. Be Flexible

When my husband will be gone, activities have two purposes: to entertain the kids and to give me a little break. Our schedule is selective and is sometimes designed specifically to save my sanity. But, even a well planned schedule has pitfalls; illnesses and cancellations happen. I can’t rely on a carefully planned schedule alone to carry me through the week.

It can be disheartening when you can’t go to activities. WHEN it happens, remember that as the parent, YOU are the one who sets the tone. Bad attitudes are particularly infectious.

BRIEFLY acknowledge your own disappointment and theirs. Console. Then, adapt and move on. SHOW your kids how to be flexible. Even if you ‘fake’ a good attitude at the beginning because you are discouraged, as they cheer up, so will you.

3. Soak It Up

When one parent is gone, you’re IT. You are on-demand. You are needed and wanted possibly more than you’d rather.

When daddy is gone, my kids are more attached to me than usual. They have been known to start getting upset when I leave the room for just a second, and suddenly a bathroom break causes chaos. Sometimes all that attention makes me want to just run away and find a closet to hide in. Even for just. ONE. minute.

When I feel smothered, it helps to remind myself that the kids miss their daddy, and that I need to extend extra grace. I intentionally lower my voice and try to speak gently, even when I’m feeling emotionally raw. I do my best to welcome their requests to be close (as in hugging-my-leg-the-entire-time-I-make-dinner ‘close’). The more available I am, the better their behavior, overall.

So, set those dishes down, leave the crumbs on the floor, and let those little ones climb into your lap. Read to them until you’re hoarse. Love them up, and enjoy every second of it. It may sound cliche, but it really WON’T be this way forever. Do whatever you have to do to remind yourself that these moments are fleeting, even if they feel like they’re taking For..ever.

Let their demand for more of you FILL your soul rather than drain it.

4. Check Your Perspective

During a two-week stretch when the kids and I were all sick and stuck inside, I had a moment of intense jealousy of my traveling husband.

Sure, traveling to Bangkok may sound glamorous, but 30+ hours of travel in a MIDDLE seat, then enduring wicked jet-lag, and FULL days of business meetings (with maybe 2 hours of sight-seeing during an entire week) is just NOT enviable…THEN traveling to Amsterdam with full days of meetings, even more jet-lag for another week, (also with little-or-no sightseeing)…THEN coming home to sick kids and a sick wife….taking care of them while enduring MORE jet-lag….IS. NOT. FUN. It just isn’t. Then after one day home (taking care of us), he was back at work, exhausted, and bombarded with people and problems who needed him. NOW.

My jealousy was absurd and unfair. My bad attitude didn’t help me be patient with the kids (which is why one of my first blog posts was about patience), and I felt drained, cranky and tired. If you start to feel this way, and you think life is more pleasant for your traveling spouse, step back and be honest about what traveling for work is REALLY like. Trust me, the grass is NOT greener on the other side and it isn’t as glamorous as you may assume.

Kick that jealousy to the curb and be grateful you endured your week without jet-lag, and that you slept in your own comfy bed.

5. Stay Connected

Whether you are getting out of the house or not, find ways to stay connected with your spouse, friends and family. Set phone and skype dates with your spouse and KEEP THEM (even if just for 5 minutes). Do the same with friends if you can’t get out because your kids are sick. When healthy, accept invites with friends and setup play dates, or meet a friend to go for a walk or to the park. If you have family in the area, quality time with beloved grandparents, aunts and uncles can work miracles with children who miss their daddy and need some extra loving. And, don’t let being BUSY while your spouse is gone deprive you of your quiet time with the Lord. Staying connected there will remedy a whole lot of problems and leave you feeling refreshed in the midst of what may be chaos.

6. Find An Outlet

Regardless of your next ‘break’ out of the house, you need to find something that gives you a ‘mental’ break. FIND an outlet that energizes and restores you. Look for something to learn, read, do, make, exercise or play. Doing something productive is always a bonus and mood booster.

For me, one of the things that came out of my husband’s travel is this blog. The blog was and IS STILL a necessary outlet for me to write down thoughts. It encourages me to DO something productive and stop vegging out on the couch, eating junk food, and watching garbage TV at night. I do hope you enjoy reading this, but in reality, this blog is for ME (Selfish, I know). I’ve also found an outlet doing some part time work from home, and in craft or DIY projects while the kids are asleep.

7. Ask For, and Accept Help

This is not one of my strong suits…but important to acknowledge and DO! We all need help. Admit it. Accept it. Ask family, friends, or hire a baby sitter if you have to. When someone offers, take them up on it. Also check around your community for other forms of help:

  • Check into events that can lighten your load: See if your church, (or a local church near you) does a meal any night of the week – they often have children’s programming that the kids can attend for FREE. Everyone benefits.
  • Utilize the child care at your gym to give yourself an hour break and to work out: Your body and attitude will thank you.
  • Consider identifying a daycare source if you need somewhere for the kids to go in a pinch: There are some pay-by-the hour places, and some companies have backup daycare for children of employees. Get the paperwork in order, so it is available if you need it.
  • This might be a good time to take advantage of ECFE, Parks and Recreation, and Community Education programs in your area.
  • Check out things like open gym, open swim, or other similar activities that can let your kids play while you watch, sipping a coffee.

 

At times, the schedule may seem grueling and the days may sometimes feel like they go on forever, but we can still do our job as a mom WELL and enjoy it whether our spouse is in town or not. The trips aren’t stopping for us anytime soon, so I would love to know your best tips. What do you do to make the most of the days when you’re on your own with the kids?

 

7 tips for moms when your spouse travels for work

10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home

In recent years, we have been blessed to have out-of-town guests. We love the chance to catch up, show them around the city, or to host celebrations. Our family has also been guests of many thoughtful and gracious hosts.

Whether your guests are family or friends, here are 10 simple ways you can help them feel ‘at home’ in your home during their visit.

10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home

1. Provide bulky items

If your guests have small children or babies, they may require use of bulky items (Pack N Play, car seat, or stroller). If you have an extra or know someone you can borrow extras from, offer! You guests’ sanity and backs will thank you! Be sure to inquire what items they will need ahead of time so everyone knows what IS and IS NOT available. If borrowing, do your best to have everything washed, and setup before they arrive.

Also consider asking if you can swing by the store to pick up bulky items like diapers. On our last trip out-of-town, our hosts picked up diapers and wipes and a few ‘baby’ necessities. We packed just enough diapers and wipes to get us there, saving space in suitcases.

2. Give a tour

One of the best ways to help your guests feel at home right away is to give a quick home tour. Include the entire house, and where your guests will be staying. It is a good idea to show where you’ve hidden extra towels and linens and any quirky things they need to know about your guest bathroom. My 3-year-old son LOVES to give our home tour and proudly parades everyone through the house. Guests think it is cute, and it lets them know where things are so they can start settling in.

3. Provide a ‘extras’ basket

Seems like every time I travel, I forget a simple necessity. We keep a basket of ‘extras’ for guests in the guest bathroom closet. We only take it out when guests are here, and replenish it with fresh stuff after they leave so it is ready to go for next time with minimal effort.

Create a guest ‘extras’ basket:

  • Q-tips
  • Mouthwash and small disposable plastic cups
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss
  • A NEW loufa
  • Body wash (actually not in the basket: include a full size bottle in the shower)
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Body lotion
  • 2 travel size deodorants (one men’s, one women’s)
  • Travel first aid kit
  • Chapstick
  • Travel tissues
  • Travel size lint roller
  • Disposable razor
  • Nail file

4. Buy grab-and-go snacks and containers

Whether your guests are visiting family and friends, working, or exploring the area, it is a good idea to have some foods and beverages that can be eaten on-the-go. I always set out disposable coffee cups and lids, and let guests know what ‘quick’ foods are in the house.

Grab-and-go ideas:

  • granola bars
  • bananas or washed fresh fruit
  • bagels or cinnamon toast
  • cheese sticks
  • lunch meat
  • cut up veggies and dip
  • sparkling water or soda
  • bottled water
  • disposable coffee cups and lids

5. Accommodate special diets

Do your guests have any food allergies or do they have a special diet need? It is a good idea to ask ahead of time so you can be prepared. Consider things like allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes or Celiac. For guests with little ones, have some baby and toddler ‘friendly’ food on hand; asking if you can pick up a few of their children’s favorite items can help little ones adjust to new surroundings.

As a general rule when making food for someone with food allergies, save the packaging or set it aside for easy access so they can read the label themselves. Even if you are great at reading food labels, an extra set of eyes is never a bad idea.

6. Give them their own space – and stay out of it

If your house is ‘full’, this can be tricky. BUT, if you plan ahead, it can be done! If you have a guest room, set everything up ahead of time and move items you need to use during the week to other locations. For example, our guest room closet houses our vacuum cleaner and ironing board. I know I may need them while guests are here so I move the ironing board to the laundry room and the vacuum to the entryway closet.

If your guests are staying in one of your children’s rooms, grab a few outfits and their favorite toys so they aren’t likely to wander into the room, or want something in there while your guests are resting. IF you HAVE to go in, try to make it as little as possible.

Do your best to make your the room comfortable, even if it is not a dedicated guest room. Remove as much clutter as you can so they have room to just BE. If using your child’s room as a guest room, consider buying a few nice guest pillows and ‘adult’ bedding during ‘back-to-school’ sales or Home Goods or TJ Max. Use a large plastic storage bin to store loose items and some favorite toys; it makes room for guests, and gives your child access to some of their favorite things they may want to go into the room to get.

Additional guest room items include:

  • alarm clock
  • extra blankets or pillows
  • hangers
  • an extra universal charger for a phone or computer, if you have it
  • portable fan (We live in a new housing development and workers begin clunking around at 7 am. A good fan can create some much-needed white noise and drown out sounds of kids and allow guests to cool off if they get warm during the night)
  • pass code for wireless internet
  • mirror (full length is a bonus!)
  • spare key or garage code
  • large or bulky items, if needed (Pack N Play, etc.)

7. Offer use of appliances

When guests stay, I make it clear that the washer, dryer, iron, hair dryer and anything else appliance-related is available to use. No one wants to wear dirty or wrinkly clothes, or have wet hair!

8. Work around their schedule

Most travelers have an agenda to accomplish during their visit. They may have special errands, sight-seeing, or appointments for work or with friends. They have made a special effort (and spent money) to come and stay with you, so whenever possible, adjust your schedule to theirs.

  • Meals: If they aren’t sure how their schedule will work out ahead of time, pick up a few easy meals that can be made quickly and don’t require a set timeline. I usually grab some lunch meat, chips, fruit and vegetables for lunches, and grab buns for hot dogs, burgers, frozen chicken, and a few easy sides. This way, regardless of their schedule, we have food on hand, or can have freedom to choose to pick up food or eat out.
  • Your schedule: If YOU have set appointments, work, kids who nap and/or go to bed early, or other scheduled activities, let your guests know your schedule. Your guests can then CHOOSE to make adjustments, if needed. If you stay home like me, let them know if you can offer use of your car or be available to pick them up or drop them off somewhere. A spare key or the garage code will allow them to come and go as needed.
  • Sleep: Do your best to reduce noise during the evening and early morning when your guests are sleeping. Regardless of the purpose of your travel, it is nice to think of any trip as VACATION from home. One perk of vacation is sleeping until YOU are ready to get up. I listen in the morning for my kids so I can quickly bring them downstairs so they don’t wake our guests.
  • Events: Don’t schedule anything for your guests. If planning a large event while they are visiting, consult them on the timing of that event. It is not your job to pack their schedule or to pressure them to do what YOU want to do. Too much in too little time can leave everyone exhausted and reduce the amount of time available to have some quality conversations and actually enjoy their visit.
  • Expectations: Don’t expect anything from them. Be glad they are here, and be grateful for WHATEVER amount of time (large or small) you have with them.

9. Provide distractions for little ones

If your guests are traveling with kids, a small basket of toys in their room, or in the living area where everyone is visiting can help the parents relax and the child get in some play time. Even better, go for quality time with the kiddos and play with them so the parents can get ready in peace, take a nap, or visit with other adults!

10. Enjoy your time with them

Remember that being a good host isn’t all about food, cleaning, or organizing! While it is great to have a clean house and do nice meals and events, the best thing to do with your guests is RELAX. Enjoy them.

Do what it takes to keep your house from being FILTHY, but feel free to allow a few dust bunnies or crumbs to stay on the floor. Accept help when your company wants to hang in the kitchen with you and help you load the dishwasher. Your friends and family did not come all this way to watch you cook and clean. They came here to spend quality time with you and your family. Plus, if your house is TOO clean, they won’t feel like they can LIVE in it.

No matter how long or short the visit, be grateful for what time you DO have with your guests. Don’t preoccupy your thoughts with when they are leaving or coming back again so you can be present in the moment.

 

What other tips do you have for hosting guests?

10 tips for making out of town guests feel at home in your home

7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown

7 DOs and DON'Ts After Your Child's Public Meltdown | thisgratefulmama.com

Our family recently took a 6 day trip to Maine for our niece’s wedding. The wedding was amazing. Our son was possibly the cutest ring bearer EVER. Yes, I’m biased.

The flight to Maine with our 3 and 1 year old kids was surprisingly pleasant.

While I didn’t expect our return trip to be AS smooth, I certainly didn’t anticipate my son’s meltdown IN the airport, OR my usually easygoing daughter’s inconsolable cries screams in flight.

We decided to eat before the flight to prevent the hangries (i.e. SO hungry you’re ANGRY). We split two huge burgers between the four of us.

A good idea…until I gave some to my daughter.

Our hangry son wanted a whole burger. Tears streaming, feet stomping, trying to flee; he was OUT OF CONTROL. Not desirable behavior for the airport (or anywhere).

15 minutes later, we convinced him to either calm down and eat, or have NOTHING.

His public meltdown left me embarrassed and nervous about the looming flight. Thankfully, he was great on the plane.

If only his meltdown was the end of our travel drama.

Our daughter’s ears must have hurt. During the 2.5 hour flight, she screamed intermittently until she passed out with 20 minutes left. My biggest concern going into the flight was a poopy diaper; screaming was SO out of character.

Ugh. A stinky diaper would have been SO. Much. BETTER.

After snacks, rocking, toys, and distraction with the tablet failed, our emergency plan was to give each child a sucker.

She was a sticky, spitty mess. 

AND it ran out before we landed, so she had TWO. AND she screamed off and on anyway, flailing that sticky sucker into my hair.

I felt terrible for her. I felt even worse for passengers who drew the short straw and had to sit near us. She raised a ruckus. When she FINALLY passed out, I held my numb, tingling arms completely still, and prayed she would not wake.

My husband and I were frazzled and felt like we’d been through a war – with emotions flying high, it felt like the whole trip had been a stressful disaster.

But in reality, it wasn’t. Each child had exactly ONE meltdown in 6 days. During the last 20 minutes of the flight, I tried to ‘reset’ my own attitude about the trip.

7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown

1. DO cut the child some slack

Acknowledge circumstances before the meltdown. Most of the time, over-stimulation, lack of sleep, or hunger may be to blame. Be grateful it didn’t happen earlier! In our case, neither child was trying to be naughty, noisy or embarrassing. They slept in strange beds, stayed up late, and were over stimulated from activities and family fun. They were exhausted.

2. DON’T keep bringing it up

When your child is finally calm and old enough to talk about it, discuss why the behavior was not OK. Then FORGIVE and MOVE ON. I like to pray with them and then hug to signal we’re done with it. Don’t bring it up again. Re-living it keeps your stress level up, and reminds your child that they were recently upset; with potential to be upset again. There will be time to analyze and determine what could have been done differently LATER, when the emotions have settled. If you’re having trouble, STOP and pray about it, and if necessary, just be SILENT.

3. DO the math

Take stock of their behavior OVER ALL. Recognize all the good moments and don’t let one 15 minute meltdown characterize their entire day. In all likelihood, this meltdown is less than 1% of the day, even if it felt like an eternity. CHOOSE to remember the good stuff.

4. DON’T allow embarrassment to alter your parenting

Be consistent regardless of the environment. Giving our son the whole hamburger to quiet him would have sent a message that his behavior was OK. The next time we share food, we’d likely deal with the same thing all over again.

5. DO take compliments from strangers  

A man sitting by us took time to tell us we were patient and did better than he did when his kids were small. I initially brushed it off, but in reality, we did do well! We did everything we could, using our preset backup plan (suckers) when needed, but stayed patient and recognized her ears probably hurt. Strangers do NOT have to say anything to you – so if they do, accept it as truth!

6. DON’T criticize, or worse, blame, anyone 

PERIOD.

7. DO build each other up

You and anyone with you will be frazzled. Encourage each other, and encourage your child. Emotions are running high. Extra grace and kind words will help everyone move on.

Despite a somewhat emotional travel day, the kids were amazingly well behaved during the rest of our 6 day trip. Considering this included new surroundings, late nights and a busy schedule – they did great! It would be easy to focus on the chaotic end of the trip, and say we won’t travel with the kids anymore or until they are bigger. But doing that is an error that will cause us to miss out on great family memories and amazing places.

Here is a family picture from the wedding, and how I choose to remember our vacation.

Here is how I CHOOSE to remember our trip

Here is how I CHOOSE to remember our vacation

 

7 DOs and DON'Ts After Your Child's Public Meltdown | thisgratefulmama.com