Travelling with a toddler – those dreaded three words should never be put together! Who in their right mind would think it's clever to travel with a toddler? Who wants to be stuck in a plane, thousands of feet above the ground with no comfort other than the padded seats and somewhat judgmental, beady eyes of onlookers silently cursing you and your screaming little human.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that hard, it might seem like a daunting, terrifying and absolutely ridiculous idea but it can be done – With your insanity intact too!
They key is…
Although it can be incredibly hard – near impossible to be fully prepared for a toddler but a degree of preparation is very handy at times when things can go in any direction and your toddler can transform from a little angel to a maniac on the loose within seconds.
SNACKSAlways have a large supply of snack available within arms reach…I’m not joking! You need to be able to reach that packet of crisps while wrestling your 25-pound toddler in their seat and trying to get them to sit down for one second while you gather your senses. Not to mention that children can get very cranky if they’re hungry and having a good, varied supply of snacks will always be a must when travelling with children. Another point to note is to try and limit sugary snacks…I know they work better than carrots and apples in keeping your child occupied but it won't last long, the sugar will get into their system and they will be more hyper and crazy than ever before.
ENTERTAINMENTYou know your child best and you know if a colouring book and crayons will do the trick or an Alien in a Tube…either way get some entertainment for them so they don’t get bored – another trigger for a meltdown. Make sure you have plenty of interesting activities ready for your child but try to limit things with small pieces that could potentially get lost in that coach ride or get stuffed in the sides of the seat…a good tip to remember is to get an activity they haven’t seen before…some stations or airports will have newsagents that sell magazines for kids…I have found these incredibly useful as they provide the child with new and fun things to do during the long, boring trip.
RESTNothing screams meltdown like a tired toddler. And you and I both know that when they’ve reached that point there’s no returning to the cute angelic little one…nope absolutely not. Make sure that they get plenty of rest the night before and if they still nap during the day then try and accommodate that before you seat yourself; try and get seats that are empty so they can lie down to nap, or carry the car seat if they still use it…either way, don’t let them reach that point that they are too exhausted to sleep and too cranky to deal with.
AND RELAX…Don’t panic! Children sense fear! Your child knows when you are stressed and this reflects on their behaviour. Be confident, you’ve got this! You’re prepared, if anything goes wrong its fine at the end of the day no one expects a toddler to be on their best behaviour with ‘Yes Ma’am, Please and Thank Yous’ and ignore the judging onlookers, focus on your child. Praise the good behaviour (as little as it may be);
“Well done sweetie you’re sitting so nicely”
Praise them when they are doing what you expect and they will do more of it to receive the attention that they are craving from you.
And finally, when they do sleep, or sit quietly, or eat that meal laid out in front of them, give yourself a pat on the back. You did it. Good job mummy.