10 Ways To Survive Your Next Vacation With Small Children

My (Mandi's) family is on vacation at the beach this week and I was thinking of some things I do to make my life easier on vacation. I thought I would share.

1. Go to a kid-friendly location. As my husband has recently learned, there are some places where it is VERY difficult to take small children. A few months ago he took our oldest daughter on a special trip--just the two of them. One of the places they visited was the Grand Canyon and he was a nervous wreck. Surprisingly, there are no guard rails. Kids may easily fall into the Canyon in several locations. I wasn't there, so I can not confirm this information. However, he is normally the more laid-back parent and he said he was freaking out. So do your research make sure it seems like a place that children will be happy and most importantly safe.

2. Eat at kid-friendly restaurants during kid friendly times. This is self explanatory.

3. Pack half as much as you think you need. This will make it easier to pack as well as putting it all away when you get home. Also, you can do your laundry midweek and wear everything twice. You will never see these tourists again, so it doesn't matter. We are halfway through our trip and I don't feel like I am missing anything. My kids love wearing the same outfits over and over. I just made sure to pack the ones they like. 

4. Rent a place with a washer and dryer. Do your laundry once midweek and once before you go home. That way you will have mostly clean laundry to put away when you get back. This is AMAZING!

5. Rent a place that has a kitchen and cook most meals at your house. Pick a few special nights to go out to dinner and even let your kids help choose the restaurant. This will save you not only money but also your sanity. Our kids tend to be overtired on vacations. They are so excited they get up with the sun and every night they get into bed a little later than they usually do. Plus all of that playing in the sun and the sand really tends to wear them out. The last place I want to be with an overtired child is a restaurant!
6. Stick to your normal schedule, but be flexible. If you decide to go out to dinner and your children get into bed a half an hour later than normal, it will be fine. Who knows? Maybe they will sleep in the next day (probably not). Our children have been going to bed about a half an hour after their normal time and they have been getting up a little later each day. This is not only important for sleep, but also for meals. If you eat dinner every night at five, don't expect your family to be able to wait until seven. If you are with a group of people either make it clear when your kids need to eat or feed them at their normal times and let everyone else eat later.

7. Carve out downtime. Everyone needs a little downtime. When on vacation it is very easy to want to make every second count, but it really is important to have some rest time. We always make sure our children get to take their nap or have a little quiet time (books, puzzles, coloring). I bought these oil pastels and the girls have been spending a lot of down time coloring in their favorite Hello Kitty coloring books. Anytime they start to argue or misbehave, I drag them out as a distraction and I must say it has worked every time!

8. Bring your family. Now I can't stress this one enough. Not only is it fun to go on a family vacation, but if you have family members that you like, bring them with you. They can be very helpful with your children and give you a break when you need it. Who knows? You may get to go running everyday or even go out on a date.

9. Bring a special toy or blanket that your child likes to sleep with. My kids--no matter how much fun they are having--tend to miss home and their beds from time to time when they are on vacation. You don't have to bring every item on their bed, but bring one small thing that reminds them of home. This may help them to go to sleep. You could even let them choose the item to bring. My kids have these blankets from Pottery Barn Kids. They have been using them since they were able to sleep with a blanket. (Will has only used his in his carseat) They have become a favorite. Anna's is hot pink; Addie's is purple; and William's is light blue. They are really soft and they love to have them on their laps in the car for road trips.

10. Relax and have FUN!

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