Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some things I've learned over the years

Most of these are probably obvious, but here are some tips it took me a while to figure out:

- Whenever possible, we fly nonstop. More takeoffs and landings mean more possibilities of problems. If it's only slightly more expensive, I'll choose nonstop flights to get us where we're going quicker, avoiding long layovers and possible weather or mechanical delays.

- Because we're a family of 5 and most planes have 3x3 seat configurations, I try to reserve an entire row across, leaving one middle seat vacant in the middle of our family. Middle seats are filled last and if someone does indeed get assigned that seat, he or she would most likely be willing to switch to the window or aisle seat. But, in the off chance it doesn't get filled, you have extra room.

- Bring along lots of distractions for the kids. When my kids were younger, I used to pack little backpacks with "new" toys - a new box of crayons, a bag of beads and pipe cleaners, materials to weave lanyards, Crayola foam clay, etc. I always bring a pad of paper and some colored pencils for each child. Maybe a new book (cheap grocery store paperbacks that I don't mind losing.) Really anything new or a toy they don't often get to use. We limit Gameboy time to airplanes and long car rides. Nothing like the forbidden fruit!

- For toddlers and babies, it's really important to help them equalize their ears on takeoff and, more importantly, on landing. Swallowing is best. I always brought along something for them to drink (more difficult, I know, since 9/11) or sometimes a lollipop.

- Stay in one place. My kids are happiest when we stay in one hotel for 4 to 7 days and take day trips. Moving hotel to hotel usually means lots of aggravation and many lost things.

- Vary the activities. You can't drag kids to museums three days in a row. Do a half day at a museum followed by a couple of hours in a local park. Better to see less but enjoy it more than try to keep them interested in exhibits for hours upon hours. For our family, mornings are easiest to visit museums or do quieter activities.

- We usually try to stay on west coast time (our home time zone.) For visits to the grandparents on the east coast, that means my kids can easily stay up till 11PM, but sleep in past 9AM. It can be more difficult going the other direction - in Hawaii, they wake up around 5AM and fall asleep at the dinner table at 8PM. Bonus side of that is I get a little quiet time with the husband!

- We try to come home one day before everyone has to return to school and work. Having that extra "free" day helps with the jet lag, laundry and other re-entry issues.

1 comment:

  1. The quiet time with "the husband" sounds nice :).