I am lucky to have the opportunity to travel. Many family vacations to the lake, to the ocean, to the mountains. I have traveled across the country and to many parts of the world. I love seeing new places and getting ingrained in the culture. I met my husband Jared and we shared the love of traveling, especially to the beach.
When we decided to have kids it was a no brainer that we would travel as much as we could. I always thought the best classroom was the world itself. Like any young, very new parent , I thought “wouldn’t it be fun to go on a 4 hour plane ride and show junior the world…”
Traveling with kiddos is an olympic event in itself. Like a diaper blowout as you’re getting on the plane. What?? Literally flying scares the sh$t out of them, they completely empty their colon. Like enema empty. How about putting the child in a carseat on the airplane only to have her kick the person in front of her for 2 hrs. There’s an aerobic routine, keeping the feet from moving like a professional swimmer. I spend 1.5 hrs in the small airplane bathroom, coming home from Punta Cana at 11pm on a very delayed flight to Minneapolis. Our 14 month old was NOT going to have it. I literally took over one of the two bathrooms on board. Our child screamed, SCREAMED for an hour. The bathroom was the only place I felt safe as the other passengers were surely planning an intervention. The flight attend would knock and I would open the door and smile and say “find another bathroom.” Needless to say we have all been there. Traveling with small kids is tough.
Having a child that suffers from a mental illness pretty much put a stop to our traveling, or our enjoyment of traveling. There were places we HAD to go, reunions, anniversary’s, graduation parties. Jared and I had our hands full. We tried so hard to make the best of it. Having a child that has meltdowns, anxiety attacks and episodes at any given time is exhausting. We drive by something that reminds her of another situation and were in full anxiety attack. Or she is tired, hungry or has her period…mood disruptions. Anytime you try and take a kid out of their normal routine is cause for upheaval.
But I ask you…What the heck is a family to do? I can’t leave her home and take the other kids. I would hate to not go and miss out on a family event that the other kids would and should enjoy. That is a tough spot to be in. I end up many times staying home and sending Jared with the other kids. Its sometimes just easier and less painful.
So for all of you out there in this situation, I have some helpful tips to make traveling a little easier.
- I have a busy bag for my teen. I include snacks (protein), tactile toys like silly putty or magnets, colors and paper. As a teen, I make sure she has her ear buds and a device. Download a movie or favorite show. Ours is Spongebob.
- Water. Hydrate.
- Make an actual schedule, a very simple one, Lauren likes to see what we are doing and will be doing and the time frame. This will alleviate a lot of anxiety. Make a calendar to cross off days until we leave or we get home.
- Bring extra help. Lauren has anxiety, when the group is moving fast and she cant keep up or needs a break, its great to have another set of hands to take the other kids or for someone to sit with Lauren.
- The hardest one for me is stopping and listening to her. I get excited or feel I need to go go go. I sometimes want to just say seriously?? When I give Lauren 15 min of 1:1 time and help her get a grasp on the anxiety, I actually buy myself a few more hours.
- You know your child, you know how far to push them befor a blowout. When Lauren started to say I’m done or I’m going to loose it, I know I need to get going. I’ve tried pushing and it never goes well.
- You, as the parent make the rules and boundaries. People will try and talk you into “just another few minutes”, or “having them wait is good for them”. WRONG. I am dealing with a whole different situation. Know your boundaries.
We’re headed to the beach this Christmas. Wish me luck!
Merry Christmas! Thanks everyone.
Here is a good article I came across.
I had a great time in Minneapolis at the U of M. Thank you, everyone, who was involved in putting this together.
Check out C.H.A.T http://globalhealthcenter.umn.edu/