Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

And traveling with babies!

This task can be daunting whether it’s a day trip to Great-Grandmas or boarding a 6 hour flight for a week long vacation.  A friend of mine who works as a speech-language pathologist lives in the DC area but has family in Chicago and New Jersey, and friends across the country so every other weekend they are planning a trip.  Did I mention she has a 6 month old?  Not only is she an expert in communication but has great tips for traveling with a little one.  Here is what she shared with me:

For starters, take a deep breath.  Traveling with a baby can be scary.  It’s hard!  But there are ways to make it easier.  And if all else fails, turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and call for room service.  In all seriousness though, if things get too hectic, baby is overwhelmed and inconsolable, take a break.  Excuse yourself from the party, skip out on going out to breakfast with your in-laws, give baby a little downtime, quiet time, mommy time.  Remember, that’s all they want.  YOU.

Now, let’s get that bag packed.

-blanket for playing on the floor

-a few small toys

-a couple of books (favorites here here and here)

photo album of family members (Shutterfly has free prints via their app!

-songs/finger plays (they don’t take up any space!)

  1.  Keep a small bag of these toys in the trunk of your car for when you end up stuck at a friends house who doesn’t have kids.
  2. Lay the blanket down to establish a play space.  Do not expect baby to sit happily on the blanket for the rest of your trip but make it clear, to play with toys, you have to be on the blanket, or sitting in mom or dad’s lap.  This way, your crawler/climber/runner is somewhat contained and not all over the airport or under the dining room table.
  3. However long you are going, hours or days, give one or two toys at a time and rotate in and out to help maintain interest.  If you dump all of the toys out, within 5 minutes, you are going to be desperately digging in the diaper bag for something, ANYTHING.
  4. Somewhere without toys or baby is over it?  Chances are there are plenty of non-toys within your reach.  Empty water bottles, Tupperware, coasters, deck of cards, plastic cups for stacking/building/knocking down, tinfoil balls, basically anything in the kitchen that isn’t a knife.  (Pro tip – check out the junk drawer)

 

Airplanes:

Keeping a baby/toddler/adult happy and busy on a flight can be the most intimidating task of all.  Have you ever sat still for an entire flight?  NO.  Neither can your baby.  The same activities listed above can work.  In addition, toddlers can be kept occupied for a tad longer but do require some more advanced activities then a simple rattle.  Here are some options when you have SnakesToddlers on a Plane, or anywhere else (doctors office, extended car ride, restaurant).  Maybe you will even be lucky enough to board a plane where the passengers actually cheer on a crying baby.

-Notebook, stickers, crayons

Use an old wipes container as a travel art case.

Glue a dry erase or chalk board to the inside of the lid if you are crafty.

Pro tip – triangle crayons.  No rolling.

-Window clings if you are lucky enough to have a window seat.

Or stick them on the tray table.

-Play dough

-Toy cars/trucks and masking tape to make a road map across the tray table

-Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks.  Snacks. Aren’t we all happier when we are eating?

-If you are lucky to be flying with a companion, and both of you are feeling brave,  choose seats away from one another.  This way you can trade off.  One person can get some quiet, and the surrounding passengers get a break as well.

Last but not least, you can do it.  There is always an end in sight.  Just like labor.  And if your child cries, so what!  Just remember, you set the tone.  If you are stressed, everyone else will feel it.  So try to have fun wherever you are.  It’s a vacation!  And don’t pass up the time for relatives to pitch in and help!

Happy Traveling!

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It’s getting hot out there…

When mother’s sun’s rays are so powerful for days upon days, it can feel like a blizzard.  Snowed in, or sunned in, with babies and toddlers is the quintessential Reality Survival TV Show.  So plan your allies ahead and you won’t be left for the hyenas.

Homemade instruments with rubber bands and a meatloaf pan.  Break out the wooden spoons and pots to keep a beat.

Paint+Ziplock Bag+Packaging tape=Mess free finger painting.  Tape the bag to a wall for those learning to stand, to the high chair tray while you make dinner, or to the floor for tummy time.

Don’t be afraid of a little water.  Lay down towels or a tablecloth.  Have your little one help clean up.

Paint with water – dip a paint brush in water and paint on construction paper.  The water temporarily shows up on the paper.

Ice cubes – with or without food dye are fun, slippery entertainment.

Make it rain!  Poke holes in the bottom of a plastic cup, pour an inch of water in a tin pan.  Scoop and drip.

For more beat the heat activities.

Now, go play!

Happy Emoji Day!

A lot has happened since last World Emoji Day, including the fact that Americans may be a little happier this year. In 2016, the top Twitter emoji in the U.S. was this angsty, weary dude: 😩. This year? The rolling-on-the-floor emoji is the winner with American Facebook users (🤣).

It seems like EVERYONE uses emojis from your mom to the President.

And some people just have a lot of time on their hands.

Emojis help to illustrate feelings.  But sometimes they can cause confusion, and possibly do more harm than help.

The same goes for teaching emotions to your kids.  Don’t cover up their feelings by ignoring them.

When your child gets excited over knocking blocks down you probably clap your hands with him, smile, and say something like “Do you like that?  Let’s do it again!”  But when your child is upset that he has to leave the playground you probably strap him in the stroller and roll out so the other mom’s don’t have to hear another toddler meltdown.

You teach your baby to say “Mama” or “Dada” by saying the word over and over and over again, you can teach happy, mad, sad, frustrated, jealous, surprised, confused and more.  When your newborn, baby, toddler, child, husband is reacting and expressing emotions, label the emotion, and talk about it.  Just as when you are teaching the word “Bye Bye”, the more you say it, the more your child will use the word, and understand it.

No, this is not a cure all to tantrums, but it helps a child understand their emotions.  When a child meltdowns because there are no more crackers, he is literally breaking down because he doesn’t understand why there are no more crackers in the bowl.  When leaving the park, “WHAT????”

Before an upsetting situation occurs, prepare and practice.  We can do two more slides and the swings, then when the swings are done we are going home for lunch/nap/books/help make dinner/wait for Daddy.  In the end, give them something to look forward to, not a prize or bribe.

This will not cure a tantrum/meltdown every time.  But over time, this set up can help children deal with emotions, understand a schedule, follow directions, and be responsible for their actions, leading to shorter, smaller meltdowns.

Prepare – We can do x,y,z, then we have to go home.  Give a short list of things that the child can do before the fun activity is done.  After each activity, repeat.
1.We can go down the slide two more times.
2. One more slide then we are going to the swings, then after the swing, we go home.
3. Slide is all done, let’s go to the swing, then we will head home to make dinner.
4. Swings are fun!  Let’s do ten pushes then we will go home and you can help me make dinner.
5. 10,9,8,7,6,5 more swings, then home to help Mommy with dinner, you can help mash the potatoes!
6. Two more pushes, then time to go home and help with dinner.  We have to mash the potatoes and set the table.
7.  Swing is all done.  Time to go home, we will make dinner then soon Daddy will be home!

Set your child up for success, not failure.  If you were in the middle of drinking your morning coffee, and I walked up to you and took it away, how would you feel/react? Exactly.

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Now, let’s play!