I have received free samples of some of the products mentioned in this article.
The holiday season is an exciting time for kids, but it can also be very stressful. As most parents know, children thrive on routine. Holidays mean vacation time off from school, attending parties and church plays and other social functions, as well as traveling to visit relatives and friends. Holiday travel is often a new and slightly scary experience for young kids, but good planning can go a long way toward making it a time of magical memories.
Aside from being exposed to large numbers of people possibly harboring winter colds and flu, they can slip into bad eating habits and neglect hygiene practices. Luckily, there’s much you can do to make the season less chaotic and more fun, both for the kids and for yourself.
Keep To A Schedule, Even When You’re Traveling
The three biggest causes of kid-sized melt-downs are hunger, tiredness and boredom. The best way to prevent these is by getting ahead of the problem.
If you’re going to be on the road, pack a bag of age-appropriate games and toys for each child. Don’t give the bag to the kid- dole out the toys and activities one at a time so they’ll have some variety throughout the trip. Some ideas include:
- Coloring books and crayons
- A drawing pad and markers
- Simple papercrafts like origami that don’t require many supplies
- Travel-sized games. The ones with magnetic boards and pieces are a godsend.
- A pack of cards
- A joke book
These Christmas coloring books from Design Originals by Fox Chapel Publishing are some of my favorites for the holidays. Santa’s Kitty Helpers features adorable kitties on each page in festive settings and outfits. Cute Christmas has both cats and dogs plus snowmen and an unexpected group of cheerful pigs!
What I love best aside from the sheer adorableness, is that each picture is printed only on the front, with a relevant quote on the back. This means if your budding artist uses markers, they won’t bleed through and ruin another page, plus they can tear out their finished creations and give them to the loved ones you’re visiting.
Nap time is worth the hassle!
If your kids are still at an age where they take daily naps, try to continue this practice during holiday travel. It may seem like a pain, but it’s worth it- even if you have to stop the car and have naptime at a rest area. This will give you time to stretch and recharge yourself as well. The problem if you neglect naps is that you’re going to end up with a car full of seriously grumpy kids. Additionally, they will probably eventually fall asleep- but when you reach your destination they’re either going to be too sleepy or wide awake (the laws of parenting dictate that it will be whichever scenario least works for you). If you don’t stick to the schedule, you’re setting yourself up for an entire trip where your kids feel a little bit off and frustrated the entire time.
Things to pack for the BEST naps:
- A pillow from home. (I still do this for me. It’s easier to sleep ANYWHERE if you have your own familiar pillow.)
- Cozy blankets.
- A stuffed friend.
- Soft, kid-friendly music to drown out unfamiliar noises.
Chips and candy are not meals!
I mean, okay, most of us lived through a time, possibly in college, where those things constituted a meal. But kids are going to crash and burn if you let them get by on a holiday diet of only sugar and salt. Much like the naps, it’s worth it to stop for meals, even if you’re eating in the car.
Good car food options:
- Sandwiches with condiments packed in small extra containers. This keeps the bread from getting soggy!
- Raw veggies like carrot sticks, celery, cucumber slices, olives.
- Fresh whole or sliced fruit like apples, bananas, oranges, grapes.
- Dried fruit of any kind.
- Nuts and granola mixes.
- Whole grain crackers and graham crackers. Yes they can be shaped like little fish and bears!
- Bottled water or juice boxes.
Cleanliness is next to…not-getting-sickliness!
The last thing I’m going to address is keeping the kids healthy during your holiday travel extravaganza. And by extension, you. ‘Cause girl, you know you’re gonna catch whatever they catch, only worse.
This is one more part of their routine it’s important to stick to, from hand-washing to tooth-brushing.
Items to pack for a healthful holiday:
- Toothbrushes and paste.
- Flossing picks.
- Baby wipes. Trust me, even if you don’t have a baby, these things are indispensable.
- Hand sanitizer. The gallon size is finnne. (We love the cute Bath & Bodyworks ones that clip onto bags and purses.)
- Chewable vitamins.
We recently tried a line of toothbrushes from Mouthwatchers created by Dr. Plotka. They have anti-microbial bristles that eliminate 99% of the bacteria that grows on the bristles between uses- which is pretty amazing. Who hasn’t wondered if their toothbrush is really safe to use after it’s been sitting around? They also have extra-thin flossing bristles that help deeply clean your teeth.
The best part is they now have a folding travel-sized toothbrush, perfect to pack in your holiday health kits!
My last recommendation is to have adorable, reusable bags on hand to pack all your travel goodies in. They’re handy and you can feel good because you’re helping the environment!
The ones I like are from Zizzybee Bags. They’re mesh and washable, plus they have cute designs on the reinforced edges. My favorite is the owl, but they have a variety of bright accent colors available.
Have a safe and happy holiday season! And let me know if you have any other tips, tricks or favorite items to add to my lists!