Travelling with toddlers.
A holiday trip to the sea. An excited toddler. A long long drive. Car trunk full of clothes, food, water and her scooter. Me and hubby take turns driving. Answer her never ending questions. “Why have we not reached there yet”.
The first sight of the sand and sea. Squeals of joy. Tiny feet rush into the water. Her hands clutching mine drag me into the water. Into her world of enthusiasm. Sand castles of every shape. Sand everywhere – eyes, ears, nose, hair, nails. Endless smiles on the small face. She drops off to sleep without a fuss. So tired. Every waking hour is spent on the beach. We promise her treats just to get her back to hotel. Days go by. Time to go back. She is surprisingly cooperative. Loved the beach. But missing home. Spot a wild elephant in the forest on the way home. Shouts of joy. She wants to ride it. We get lucky. Manage an elephant safari. She is so excited. Touches the elephants ears gingerly. Squeals of joy. Watches with wide eyes as elephants are fed. Promises to eat well to become as strong as them. Falls asleep as we reach home. The smile hasn’t left her face all through. We are tired. But smiling too. A trip gone well.
Many lessons learnt in this one trip. Before I had a child, I always thought travelling with these tiny human beings must be terrible. Bawling kids, constant demands, running behind them to keep a check on them, embarrassing questions and behavior. But now I know it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you want your travel and holiday to go smoothly there are some preparations. The first of them is to prepare your child in advance about the upcoming trip. Tell her where you are going and why. Tell her who would be there, and what would you see and do. Get her excited. Don’t just suddenly drop the trip on her. She wouldn’t like to be suddenly taken away from the comfort of her home and toys to a new place. But if you tell her in advance, and get her enthusiasm up, she would be a happy co traveler. This is also the time to set a few expectations with your child, a little firmly. I tell mine that she can have only one chocolate a day, and that she can play around but cannot leave my sight, and has to help me with the bags, etc. This doesn’t mean she would follow the expectations, but it would definitely mean a little less of a fuss when you refuse to her demands in the trip.
The golden rule is to keep your toddler happy. A cranky child will lead to cranky parents and a ruined trip. But keeping a child happy doesn’t come easy. This comes with a lot of sacrifices. For one – it involves carrying additional baggage. Her favorite toy, clothes, books, the blanket she can’t live without, etc. I carry her favorite movies in a pen drive at all times. But I refrain from loading my smart phone with anything for her to watch.
To keep your child happy, you will have to give her a little freedom to explore without compromising on her safety. Let her run along that airport, but keep a watchful eye. Let her ask questions and speak to co passengers. She might want to keep walking up and down the aisle in the train or the flight. Let her do it a few times, why, even you should join her. Don’t try to rein in her natural enthusiasm. Show her new things, point to pictures and talk to her. Remember, to her, everything new is exciting and she is learning something every moment. Make the most of your travel and holiday to expose her to different experiences.
When all this becomes too much, and you are tired and want her to just stay at a place – that’s when you bring out the stories. Whether out of a book or your own imagination, tell her small stories which will keep her hooked for some time. Weave tales around the things and people you see around. She would be mesmerized. But be prepared for a tirade of questions later on.
Food is the other thing which makes travel a lot easier than you can imagine. Carry her comfort food. Comfort food is not anything new, but what she is used to eating at home, and likes. Not only will this ensure she has food but also prevents any unwanted health issues due to foods outside. This would mean additional bags but then the pros are much better than the cons.
Last of all, you need to be free from anxiety and fear. Children tend to take on the same anxiety and fear as you. If you look forward to the trip with enthusiasm, it would also excite her and you can hope for a happy holiday. If you ensure that she is comfortable, then you would find yourself finding time for yourself and enjoying the trip too.
About The Author:
Vidya, part time writer and dreamer, full time mother passionate about parenting and raising a happy child. Often volatile and expressive, I write my mind on my blog.