November 29, 2013

Holiday Traveling with Children

One of the things that the holidays bring for many of us is the opportunity to travel with our children. Isn’t it such a wonderful “opportunity?” As a mother with very young children, traveling long distances with them isn’t the most fun thing I can imagine doing with them during this time of year. However, it’s precisely one of the things we are going to be doing this year.

My husband and I decided to do something a little different this year. We decided to take our. family vacation right in the midst of the holidays. We normally go during the summer, but this year for some odd reason we thought it would be fun to go at the end of November/first of December. We elected to take the kiddos on a 7-night Disney cruise – a first for all of us! One of the delightful things about our family vacation is that my parents decided to join us, so it truly is a family vacation.

While I am positive that everyone is going to have a splendid time once aboard the ship, I’m just a little nervous about the actual traveling part. The day that we fly out is going to be an all-day event as we leave at 10:05 in the morning, fly for 1.5 hours and then have a 1.5 hour layover, before flying for another 3 hours. I am not concerned about the 6 year old as I think he will have fun on this adventure, but I’m not so sure about the 1 year old – who will be flying on our laps.

Now, I know I am not the only one with young children who will be traveling long distances with their kiddos for the holidays. Therefore, I thought it might be beneficial to share a few tips for traveling with children.

  1. Bring Engaging Activities – Take a little time to think about how boring long trips were for you when you were a child. I, myself, absolutely loathed them. So, don’t be surprised when your kids feel the same way. So, try to do what you can to prevent this by bringing activities along to help make the trip more enjoyable for the kiddos. While many kids have hand-held gaming devices that will literally keep them busy for hours, why not pack a few additional items just in case? For instance, coloring books, new books to encourage reading (especially if you have a child who is just learning how to read), mini/travel-sized games, and other similar items are great. 
  2. Pack Snacks – Not only do I have a 6 year old accompanying us on this trip, but I’ve also got a 1 year old…who is pretty active. In order to help keep his little hands busy, I am packing plenty of snacks for him in my carry on. Of course, my 6 year old has his own snacks too.
  3. Find New Toys – A day or two before you leave make a trip to the Dollar Store or somewhere similar and buy several new toys that your children don’t have at home. It always makes long trips more interesting when they have new things to play with and hold their attention. For babies, look for things that you know will capture their attention. For example, my little guy has a fascination with Tupperware cups and their lids. I have no idea what that is about, but he loves flipping the lids over and stacking the bowls. Therefore, for this trip, I am buying a few new (small) pieces to help pass the time on the plane.
  4. Have a Plan – The trip before the trip is honestly what I have spent the majority of my time planning…and I honestly think that it’s necessary. As I previously mentioned, we have a layover in between flights. Therefore, I have a plan for exactly how that layover time is to be spent. I am not going to feed the kids a lot during the flight before the layover, that way they will be hungry when we arrive at the next airport. We will hustle to the next gate and snag lunch from somewhere nearby. That way once we arrive at the correct gate, we can pass a good chunk of the time eating while we wait for our next flight. Having a plan can and should make the day of travel go more smoothly for everyone.
  5. Have as Much Fun as Possible – As adults, we tend to take things just a little to seriously sometimes and can get stressed fast. This is especially true when traveling at the holidays with our children. However, our kids can sense when we are stressed and it passes on to them, which has a major effect on their day. Therefore, try to have fun during the trip and don’t get too stressed out along the way.

So, there you have it…my list for easier traveling with the kids during the holidays. What are some of the tricks that you have found successful during your holiday travels with the kiddos?

November 1, 2013

Tips for Using Up that Halloween Candy

While I enjoy taking my kids from door to door as they partake in the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating, I dread the basket full of Halloween candy that accompanies us home. One year, my son ate on that bucket of candy from Halloween night up until Christmas Eve, with the help of his father and I, and no, I’m not exaggerating.

I’m not sure about you, but for me, I’m ready to dump the basket of Halloween candy after about a week. I mean, the holidays are coming up and most of us are trying to watch our weight anyways, right? Plus, what child really needs that much candy? Can you imagine what all the dentists, dental assistants and other similar professionals think about this holiday? (My mother was an oral surgeon’s assistant for years, so I have an idea of what they think about this time of the year.)

Over the last 5 years, I’ve gotten creative about making that Halloween candy dissipate a little faster than it used to. Here are a few of the things I do with it:

1.      Trash all the hard stuff. The first thing I do is trash all of the hard candy, unless it’s a sucker or something like that. When I was 9 or 10, I choked on a jawbreaker and my dad had to do the Heimlich on me in order to get it out. Ever since then, I have had a fear of hard candies like that. Naturally, now that I have children, that fear has only gotten worse. I know I can’t control everything they put in their mouths, but at Halloween, I can. While it sounds harsh, to me, it’s a safety precaution…but it’s also one that helps whittle down that pile of Halloween candy too.

2.      Use it in the lunch box. Halloween candy makes a great “treat” for my son at school. I don’t usually buy candy to put in his lunchbox, but after Halloween, he gets at least one or two pieces a day for his “dessert.” When my husband worked a job where he took his lunch every day, I would do the same for him.

3.      Donate it. I’m not sure about your school, but at my son’s school, the teachers reward the kids for various things with little pieces of candy. Most of the time, the teachers have to pay for these rewards out of their pockets, which is why I like to donate part of excess candy we have after Halloween to the teachers in my son’s class.

4.      Make Christmas gifts with it. Sounds a little weird, right? I only do this for a few of the people on my Christmas list…you know, the ones that you want to give something small too so they know you’re thinking of them. I go to the craft store and pick up some of the small decorative glass jars, buy some holiday ribbon to tie around the jars and then fill the jars with some of the Halloween candy that doesn’t have any Halloween themed wrapping on it. It makes for some easy, inexpensive Christmas gifts!

Above are my suggestions for how to use up all of the extra Halloween candy your kids come home with. Do you have any unique ways of filtering the candy out of your house? If so, please share!