Traveling with 2 Kids Under 4 - Lessons Learned

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Up until a few days ago I was flip-flopping on whether I could handle bringing along our 3-month old Don Lorenzo on a scheduled trip to Tagaytay. I knew it was going to be tough with the long drive an all, what with traffic being unpredictable even outside Manila, when I still have to express milk on schedule and attend to Don Joaquin's needs, too. At first I thought it would at least be a good opportunity to focus attention on Don J, as he rarely gets it in full these days. However, it felt a bit wrong going on a family trip and not being complete anyway. So what the heck, we brought the baby along.

Don Lorenzo's 1st Road Trip!
Traveling wasn't as challenging in hindsight, since Don L naps really well as long as the car is moving, he's satiated with mom's milk, and he's all comfy in his car seat. Things went downhill from Don J having an incomplete nap which, as all toddler parents would know, is the bane of our kids' chirpy existence - so we ended up with an extremely cranky gremlin by the time our intended dinner party rolled in. Top that with a baby who started coughing up phlegm, and it's a sure fire way to mess up everyone's mood.

make sure to plan pit stops to rest. refresh and recharge
the kids, too!
In hindsight, I picked up a few noteworthy lessons that I hope will prove useful when the time comes for another trip again:

1) Make sure everyone's well-rested. It's NEVER a good idea to wake the kids earlier in the hopes that they will nap longer, or skip nap time hoping that they'll go to bed sooner and sleep longer. NO. JUST. NO. Younger kids will normally be irritable when they get overstimulated or tired, and they can't fall asleep all the more because of all the excitement going on around them. Which leads to...

Kuya J napping during heavy traffic
2) As much as possible, schedule your trip and activities around the babies'/toddlers' nap time. I know some might think, "they should learn to adjust". The thing with very young kids though, they thrive on routine, and family outings are already out of their usual sched. So I personally feel that if you can afford it, it's a small compromise to make it easier on all family members. At least until they're a bit older and easier to negotiate with - in my MIL's words, "Pag pede na batukan". :)

3) Anticipation and diversion is key. You know your kids best - do they get car sick if on the road for too long? Arrange for stop overs. Are they easily bored? Stock up on activities they can do while traveling or while that family dinner is on going. What hubby usually does is, he buys cheap toys (I'm talking P20-P50) that will surely hold Don J's attention for a good 1-2 hours. If we don't have anything new, I just bring a toy he hasn't seen in ages and it usually works just as well.

Allowing Don J to head to the hotel's play area in the hopes
it'll put him in a good mood before the hubby's dinner
In this particular instance, we made another mistake in banking on the idea that Don J was going to be thrilled with the presence of our friend's daughters who were his age, and they would have a merry time playing while we adults got to eat, so we didn't prep any "props". It didn't happen. And that leads to...

The hotel lobby - I spent almost the entirety of the evening snuggled in the
room with the kiddos instead
4) Expect that not everything will go as planned. The thing with young kids is, it's best to have plan A, B and C - practically an entire flow chart of contingencies. LOL. My ultimate back up was to return to the hotel with the kids and leave hubby at to at least enjoy his time with friends, and that's what we ended up doing.

Sure it can be taxing to tag young ones along on out-of-town trips with so many things that can go wrong, but a lot of preparation can go a long way in easing stress. Be a little more prepared, avoid setting expectations too high, pack on the patience and reember that little ones live in the moment so focus more on making new memories so everyone can have a little more fun!

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