Surviving Solo Travel with Kids

A few months ago, I made the decision to travel with my kids, without my husband. There was no booze involved in the decision, it was made with a completely conscious mind. After the plane tickets were purchased, I was committed, and a feeling of complete and utter panic set in…this was happening. If you have ever traveled with your kids, traveling with both parents present is a big production. Just the sheer amount of stuff you need to lug through the airport requires a team of Sherpas, then there is the crankiness that ensues, and more often than not, there will be a spill on the plane which requires a two person clean-up. After experiencing travel just like this, I actually made the decision to do this on my own…and lived to tell about it. Here are a few things I learned that made the journey relatively, ‘painless’.

  1. Get to the airport early. If you think you are at the airport early, when travelling alone with your kids, early is not early enough. I learned this the hard way. Try running through the airport pushing a stroller, dragging a piece of luggage, two car seats, a diaper bag, a backpack and a four year old. It is not a pretty sight, but if this happens to you, keep a smile on your face and don’t show your inner panic…you will look like Super Mom. I recommend avoiding this situation…get there really super early.
  2. Pay whatever it costs and select your seats in advance. For some bizarre reason, airlines think it is okay to separate children from their parents. Believe it or not, I was separated from my kids in both directions of our journey. Luckily some passengers volunteered their seats so I can sit with my kids. I regretted the move about half way though the flight, when the spill occurred and I spent the remainder of the flight in orange juice soaked pants.
  3. You bring it, you lug it. Bring a variety of entertainment for the kids, but as little as possible. They will get bored of everything you bring in 15 minutes anyway, so might as well make your life easier.
  4. If you are going to bring something, bring food. If they are eating, they are not complaining.
  5. Relax. There are many things about travel that are out of your control, especially how your kids behave. Know that you will eventually get to where you are going; there is a light at the end of the recycled air sardine can you are in, and if someone loves you, there will be a very strong cocktail waiting for you at the other end.

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If you are embarking on a journey alone with your kids…or not, safe travels. Happy March Breaking. Would love to hear any other advice you have for traveling parents. Leave a comment 🙂

 

 

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Let Them Be Little

Kids grow up fast, real fast. One moment they are sitting in the back of the car singing the ABCs, then next moment they are singing ‘hot line bling’. If you think about it, childhood is just small portion of life, not even 10%…I’m not sure who decided that childhood should be so short, but whoever made the decision, they totally got things backwards.

As parents, we want to raise our children to be functioning members of society. We want them to be good people, to know right from wrong, to think before they speak and not to pick their nose in public. As parents, it is our job to teach our children these things, especially how to use a Kleenex.  Of course, the earlier we start to teach our children, the better, the more we teach our children, the better, but remember, they are only children for so long, and sometimes we just have to, ‘let them be little’.

Sometimes I have to stop and think about what I am teaching my kids; is it such a bad thing that they are jumping on the bed? Or painting their faces with apple sauce? Or wearing no pants? Do I need to tell my kids not to do these things? Will they be bad people if they jump on the bed? Will they not understand right from wrong if they paint their faces with apple sauce? The answer is no, they will turn out completely fine. The no pants thing will have to stop at some point, but while they have cute little tushes, might as well let them roam pants-free.

So next time you are going to use the words, ‘no’ or, ‘don’t do that’ think about why. Relax the rules and let your kids enjoy being children, doing the things that children do, because before you know it, they will be all grown up, and wearing no pants won’t be so cute anymore. It takes a change in mindset to ease-up on the discipline, but it is such a beautiful thing to watch your kids run naked through a fountain without a care in the world, or laugh like crazy while jumping on the bed. So let them be little, because they are only that way for just a little while.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below. If you think this post will benefit others, please share.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping THEIR Cool – Kids & Stress

Kids are kind of like adults, except they are cuter, they can’t drink (legally), they can’t drive and they can’t cook – minus the drinking part, being a kid doesn’t sound half bad to me, I can live without driving and cooking. Like adults, kids also experience stress, who knew! I have always been envious of the carefree life children lead, but knowing that stress is a component, my envious feelings have been slightly weakened.

Adam and I participated in a workshop a few months ago on stress and how it affects children. It happened to be on the same night as game 5 of the ALCS, a critical night for the Blue Jays, so I am not sure how much, ‘paying attention’ there was, but it was a good reminder to be mindful of this very common emotion children feel, how to identify it and how to manage it.

Children demonstrate stress in many of the same ways adults do, they can be irritable, have trouble sleeping, want to eat more, have trouble getting along with friends, get stomach aches, headaches, and my two favourite forms of self-expression, whining and crying.  This is where not being able to have a glass of wine would be troubling for me, wine solves a lot of problems, especially stress.

Stress can come from many different situations, some which we can control, and some which are just a part of life and learning and we can’t control, but can certainly help to manage. Here are some very common situations where stress for kids can arise:

•  Change – moving to a new home, school (not controllable)
•  Having too much to do – overloaded with activities (controllable)
•  Having trouble at school with friends or schoolwork (semi-controllable)
•  Getting yelled at (semi-controllable)
•  Feeling rushed (controllable)
•  Feeling lonely (semi-controllable)

Put yourself in your child’s shoes, if you are getting rushed out of your house and getting yelled at to hurry up, how would you feel? Stressed! If you were overloaded with things to do and had no time to relax, how would you feel? Stressed! What does this result in? Irritable and whiny children. Do we want that? No! Something I’ve put into practice is to put myself into my children’s shoes, and if I know I’d feel stress in a particular situation, I try to be mindful that they probably would as well. I’ve been conscious  of this and it has worked wonders – reduced whining and crying, awesome. A few small changes, like not overloading your kids with activities, allowing enough time to get out of the house and being conscious of the yelling (yeah, I know, it is hard) can really make a difference. For the stressful situations you can’t control, love, comfort and understanding are huge.

If all else fails, there is wine, for you, not your kids. Have an awesome and stress-free weekend.

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The Flock in 20.4 Megapixels

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Phone cameras are convenient, especially when I am pushing a stroller, holding Kaylee because she doesn’t want to sit in the stroller, holding Maiya’s hand and lugging our gear for the afternoon – I really don’t need anything else to carry. My phone sits conveniently in my purse, doesn’t take up any extra room and takes a marginally okay photograph. As the kids are getting older, and Adam and I are trying to capture as many moments as possible, I’ve noticed that our moments are a little fuzzy. So this weekend I decided, no more fuzzy moments, time to invest in an actual camera that takes great photos.

So this weekend I dragged my husband and kids camera shopping. A few things I’ve learned from camera shopping:

1. There are a billion cameras out there that all appear to do almost the same thing, with slight differences, for a huge range of prices. Totally overwhelming.

2. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a fantastic camera.

3. Great cameras come in small packages.

4. Do not take your kids camera shopping – it is a liability.

I really wanted the crème de la crème in compact cameras, but that comes at a fairly significant cost. After a lot of shopping, comparing and chasing my children through Best Buy, I ended up with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX60, which is an awesome camera. It takes SLR quality pictures, but I am able to cram it into my purse, somewhere between the wipes and the spare pull-up fairly easily, and it really doesn’t add a lot of extra weight. Adam and I have been playing around with it and have already captured some adorable photos of the girls. We have been running after them with the camera all weekend…unfortunately they have started running away.

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Run. Laundry. Repeat.

My day starts early, a little earlier for my liking, no, a lot earlier, but that’s what I signed-up for when I became a parent. Each day is jam packed from start to finish, from waking, dressing and feeding my kids, who do not to be woken dressed or fed (you can probably imagine how that goes, yeah, it is the same as your morning), to school drop-off, work, school pick-up, dinner prep and clean-up, getting the kids ready for bed, who do not want to get ready for bed, laundry, then trying to locate toothpicks to hold my eyelids up while I have 15 minutes to catch-up on The Bachelor. Let’s face it, as a working parent, finding time to exercise is as easy as trying to get your child to eat broccoli, but it is doable, I promise.

I’ve been a dedicated runner & fitness enthusiast for as long as I can remember. Before having kids, finding the time was easy, because I actually had time. Now, it takes a bit of creativity with schedule and some will to get out of bed, but it is totally worth it because I feel energized for the rest of the day and can completely justify an extra piece (or two) or chocolate.

I get asked all the time, ‘how do you do everything you do and still have time to exercise?’. The biggest part of staying dedicated to fitness is finding something you love and look forward to doing. If you find something you love and look forward to doing, you will want to squeeze it into your insane schedule. Being consistent is also key, find a time of day that works for you and stick to it.  I love the early mornings because I get to have some time to myself, a very rare occurrence these days, although occasionally I get some help. At the end of the day though, do what works for you, find your prime time and do what you love. You don’t need to dedicate an hour, even 30 minutes will do the trick. I promise, a tiny bit of time is really worth it, you will feel like a million bucks.

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The Bosses of Me

When they tell you your life will change when you become a parent, they weren’t kidding. In fact, it really isn’t your life anymore, it is now owned and operated by your new boss, your child. That’s right, you have just given birth to your boss.

I have two bosses who are now 5 and 3 years old. They are erratic, often they do not agree on strategy – or who can use the pink bowl, they can be aggressive and they yell…a lot. They are very demanding and have high (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations, they don’t pay well, but the benefits are extraordinary.

My bosses have changed every aspect of my life – they have changed my alarm settings to an ungodly hour, have allowed for an increase in the laundry quota by 10-fold, have made it acceptable to watch only Peppa Pig while I do my work out and have integrated cheese into every menu item I serve. I thought about forming a union, fighting for my rights, but after thinking about it long and hard, change is good, right? Actually, it is amazing, and I love cheese so I really can’t complain.

On the other hand, my bosses LOVE me, which is a total ego boost. They have confidence I can get the job done with minimal support, although they are known to follow me around, even to the bathroom. They are really easy on the eyes, which forgives most of their shortcomings and they have been known to give the odd bonus, which generally comes in the form of a few scribbles on a piece of construction paper, but they are worth waiting for. Occasionally, they accept some of my advice…very occasionally, because they believe they are always right.

I could not think of a better job, being a parent. It has been the most fulfilling and important career I could ever imagine. Sometimes I need a little reminder of that…especially while I am tackling mountain laundry.

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