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Easing the Stress of Holiday Travel with Kids

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For some parents, the hassle of getting to your holiday destination, coupled with the inevitable schedule disruptions, is enough to make you want to just stay home. Of course, that usually isn’t enough to allow you to cancel travel plans, especially when grandma and grandpa are waiting to spoil your kids.

Claire Haas, mom of two and Vice President of Education for Kiddie Academy (www.kiddie offers the following tips for handling holiday travel with your kids:

• Consider traveling at off-peak hours. Start your trip at 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. You’ll avoid traffic, and the kids may just sleep for part of the trip. Increase the chances for sleep by an extended playground trip to burn off energy before you buckle them in the car seats.

Kiddie Academy Travel BagA dollar store cookie sheet with magnets works great as a lap desk for the car or on a plane. The raised edge can help prevent crayons and cars from landing on the floor.

• If you’re facing a long car ride with the kids, pack each a "travel activity bag" with new games and activities to keep them busy. Keep the bag in the front seat with you, and dole out a new item each hour. For example, a printed map for playing the license plate game. Or, bubbles to blow out the car window.

• Consider relaxing any restrictions on daily screen time. Video games, iPads and laptops can be true lifesavers when dealing with kids facing hours in close proximity to their siblings.

• You have two choices on bedtime disruptions during holiday travel – stick to your routine while away from home, or just accept that rules are out the window, and make the best of it. For some children, staying up past bedtime during the holidays is a special treat they’ll remember fondly. Do what you think will work best for your family, and shrug off the raised eyebrows you may get from a great aunt because you’re letting the kids stay up late or insisting they stay on schedule.

For more parenting tips, including a downloadable checklist of suggested items for your travel activity bag, visit Kiddie Academy’s Family Essentials blog.

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Thursday 25th of April 2013

These ideas are fantastic. I especially like the idea of leaving at night. Why this never crossed my mind is funny. It would be so much easier as long as you or the driver were well rested. I like Meghan 's comment as well, sometimes it is all about your attitude and setting the tone for the little ones.

Henria O.

Wednesday 20th of February 2013

I like the idea of using a cookie sheet with magnets! Never thought of that!


Thursday 20th of December 2012

I think staying engaged with the child is the best way to easy the stress. Rather than going into the situation with tension, you can play games like twenty questions or eye spy, or sing songs. If you try to make the journey fun, rather than just gritting your teeth and trying to get through it, it will be fun and a great start to your vacation.