As I know many of you are preparing for visiting loved ones this week, I am sharing this guest post from Christina of Eowyn’s Heir. I loved meeting this passionate mama at The Relevant Conference this past fall (and munching on gluten-free food together!)- after I arrived without one of our carseats (oops).
Our family has used many of these same tips over the years, and it makes trips (and daily life!) so much simpler. It’s a good, thorough list. (A print-friendly button is located at the bottom of this- and every- post, for your convenience. Just click on the green “Print PDF” button to view this post in a printable format, and use as a checklist!)
If you are packing up suitcases this week, this is for you. Happy Travels & Merry Christmas!
This list will post in two parts, so come back tomorrow (or subscribe) for the 2nd half of her list.
We’ve traveled a lot this past year.
By her first birthday, Eowyn had visited 6 countries on 2 continents, 20 US states, and had traveled by plane, train, car, streetcar, bus, subway, cruise ship, backpack, stroller and ferry.
So many people ask me “How do you travel with a little one? Well, here are my tips.
1. Mentality: Just do it. This is my first answer to the above question. If you have in your mind that it’s going to be insanely hard, you’ll never try. But if you want to travel, and you have a baby, go for it! You just accept the difficulties, embrace the adventure, stay flexible, and be willing to laugh at everything.
– Pick two colors and pack only clothes in that scheme. For example, I may pack all red and pink one trip, or all turquoise and brown another. This allows for mixing and matching when half an outfit inevitably gets dirty sooner than you planned, or it’s much colder than you expected.
– Pack one outfit per day, plus an extra cold-weather outfit and an extra warm one. Pack socks, leggings, a hat and shoes no matter what. You just never know how cold some part of your journey will be. Likewise, pack at least one short-sleeved outfit. You can always layer!
– Keep a reserve -binkie, lovie, paci, blankie, whatever your child needs to be happy. Keep it in the bottom of the bags and ONLY pull it out in emergency. Otherwise you’ll end up losing both your usual AND your backup!
– Train your children to obey you right away the first time. This is absolutely critical in new environments. We play the “come to mommy” game every day to reinforce this!
– Train your child to understand and obey “no touch.” I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been to be able to tell Eowyn “do not touch this” item in a hotel or friend’s home, and watch her play happily without bothering it.
– Consider blanket or line training (teaching babies and children to stay on a blanket or within a line on the ground), because you will not be staying in only “child-proofed” areas. Alternatively, you can have “playpen time” in a pack’n’play or baby bed.
Note from Michele: We’re not “babywise” fans in our family. But we strive to discipline our children in this concept of Biblical obedience with consistent boundaries, using “Tomato Staking” and baby-wearing. (And they’re wonderful travelers!)
– Get your child used to sitting in a stroller, sleeping in a sling/wrap/carrier or being on a “leash” while walking— whatever you’re planning to do when you’re away and in crowded areas should be done first stress-free at home!
– Train your child to have good manners BEFORE leaving home! It doesn’t matter if you have a steam cleaner so you don’t mind your child throwing food at home. Other people (especially restaurant owners) will likely NOT share your viewpoint. As Christians, good manners are part of loving our neighbors more than we love ourselves! With older children, try to learn greeting customs for the country to which you are traveling.
– Forget about your trip being about you. It’s about the WHOLE family now, and more than that, it’s about the glory of God. The glory of God is seen in the difference between the way we would act naturally, and the way we act because of God’s grace.
That might mean taking turns walking a fussy baby an entire plane ride. It might mean not getting to see everything you could have seen without kids. It might mean having to head back to the hotel more than you’d like. If you get stuck in the me-me-me rut, you will resent your children instead of being thrilled that they get to be WITH you!! Vacations are a time to explore, to rest, yes… but mostly, it’s a time to serve, just like always.
Christina is a former teacher & choir director, and current stay-at-home mom to Eowyn (1 year) and wife to Ryan. She is passionate about equipping moms to think critically in order to raise healthy children full of faith, music and imagination.