Planning a relaxing holiday with the kids this summer? You’ve probably been looking forward to it all year…and dreading it at the same time! Will the kids behave? Will they be bored? Will I be able to enjoy myself?
Travelling with children can turn a holiday into a stressful nightmare. According to a recent survey compiled by Tourism Australia, almost 50% of Australian families take family road trips over the holidays. Long car journeys with tired and cranky children fighting in the backseat or a fun restaurant visit turned crazy tantrum can raise stress levels and take the fun out of family time.
Karen Phillip, parent and family counsellor and author of Who Runs Your House – The Kids or You? knows the difficulties of travelling with children and shares her tips to keep the kids happy and your holiday blissful.
1. Have activities
Activities and planning are needed to keep children occupied and calm during travel times and restaurant visits. Relying on a DVD or tablet to keep young children entertained on a long journey is usually doomed to fail unless it is mixed with other activities and regular short breaks.
“Make sure you have age appropriate activities, like colouring books or tablets available during a long journey, but make sure to interrupt their activities at a suitable time to talk and play a game with them. For long journeys in the car regular stops are needed to give the children a chance to burn some energy and run around, kick a ball or play in a park on the way,” says Karen.
2. Keep them informed
The best way to start a long journey is to let the children know the journey might take a long time. A child’s concept of time may vary depending on their age, and a young child might understand time better in relation to something they know e.g. “the same time you are at school every day.”
3. Reward good behaviour
Karen advocates rewards for the well behaved children. Rewards can be anything from being able to choose the bed or room they sleep in when arriving at the destination, or receiving a treat when they stop for lunch, while the child that is misbehaving only receives a basic sandwich. “If the plan was to stop at McDonalds, let them know that if they are behaving you will stop at McDonalds, but if they are loud or misbehave the stop will be somewhere less fun the parents choose”.
4. Learn how to eat out
When it comes to eating at restaurants, the training starts at home. Karen believes that all children need to learn as early as possible how to sit at a table, to sit on a chair properly, use cutlery appropriately and wait for their meals to be served. “If children learn this basic concepts, dinner out isn’t a painful experience. I do however recommend parents ensure they have an arsenal of quiet activities such as books and games to entertain the child if they are having dinner with other adults,” says Karen.
Karen’s advice is, if a child’s behaviour escalates or they throw a tantrum at the table, remove them from the area and use the two choices method as explained in the book. “If a child continues to misbehave, let them know they will miss out on something special, like a planned holiday activity”, Karen says. “Once this happens they know a consequence will take place, and they will usually think twice next time”.
For more information on Karen Phillip and her new book visit www.whorunsyourhouse.com.
What are your top tips for travelling with children?