When it comes to family life, I do plan. But... I also leave a lot up in the air until the last minute. Things would certainly go more smoothly if I made planning a higher priority.
I love chatting with other moms and swapping tips and tricks. Sometimes seemingly insignificant tweaks in your routine can save massive headaches, avoid meltdowns and add hours of sleep to your entire household's day. Priceless stuff.
When my friend Lisa Barr starts sharing ideas, I listen. Here's Lisa and her crew...
Lisa has an endless supply of hacks and shortcuts. This spring break - whether you ascend 30,000 feet, or pile in the van for a long haul - grab a trick or two out of Lisa's ultimate travel bag.
In Lisa's words...
Stressing about upcoming travel with kids and what to pack? Traveling is hard, especially with children. Kids get bored, tired and restless in any circumstance, and especially if they sit in one spot for awhile.
Take a look inside what I call the Ultimate Busy Bag - designed to keep your child occupied on long trips, no matter where you're going.
Here are 20 things to keep in mind when packing your personal busy bag to ease the strain of traveling with kids this Spring Break:
The Ultimate Busy Bag
Tip #1: Only allow the kids to do one activity at a time. It prevents them from getting everything out at once and allows you to pace the timing of activities. I pack my bag with little surprises so that it's fun for them to see what comes next.
Tip #2: Store items in plastic bags so the contents stay organized and are easy to grab when needed. Plus, gallon bags are clear and you can easily see what's inside.
Tip #3: Pack books. Reading books keeps the kids engaged and quiet. Plus, whenever you get where you are going, you will have some books to read throughout the day and before bed.
Tip #4: What little kid doesn’t love a variety of stickers? My girls love to draw scenes then decorate with them. We keep a variety bag of stickers handy when we travel. I find the books at the Dollar Tree and in the dollar bin at Target.
Tip #5: Keep markers, pencils and crayons in a zip top bag or pouch that's easily accessible, so the kids can help themselves.
Tip #6: My older girls are girly-girls. So when I see princess items in the dollar section of a store, I pick them up. I recently picked up a fun bag full of pencils, erasers, a notebook and highlighters.
Tip #7: New coloring books are always fun and an activity that can be repeated throughout the trip.
Tip #8: Reusable sticker pads have been a favorite of ours since the kids were around age 2. The Melissa and Doug stickers are easy to peel off and can be repositioned over and over again to create different scenes. We take the pages out of the book so that it is easier to decorate a page one at a time.
Tip #9: These little felt activity books I found in the dollar bin at Target have matching, counting, colors, and tic tac toe. They even have a little pocket inside to store all the loose felt pieces.
Tip #10: I love activities that can engage the kids and help them learn at the same time. The Doodle Tin by Usborne (below) contains 80 wipe-clean doodling cards with a dry-erase marker that allows kids to create and draw.
Tip #11: Water Wow On the Go pads are an absolute must-have. They allow kids to draw and color without the mess of paint... just water. They dry quickly so that kids can paint again and again.
Tip #12: We love these alphabet cards that help kids trace letters and write their letters on their own with a dry-erase marker that is included.
Tip #13: Puzzles! We love puzzles and bring a few that are smaller and easy to put on our laps. The puzzles with the built in wood boards on the back are the best for travel. I store the pieces in a plastic bag so that they don’t get lost in transit.
Tip #14: Small play-doh containers are the best for travel. They are the perfect amount to play with and don’t take up a lot of room. You can find these at Five Below.
Tip #15: All of my children love lace-up cards. My 14-month-old son loves to undo them, and my girls love to lace them up. It is a great hand-eye coordination activity that also works on fine motor skills.
Tip #16: Don’t forget to include your kids favorite games, like Bingo. Card games also are easy to include in your bag and keep their attention for awhile.
Tip #17: Traveling with children age 9 months to 2 years is H A R D. Keeping their attention is nearly impossible, and they want to either crawl or walk the enter time. I keep a bag or two of small tinker toys for the younger kids. These are hand-size toys that they can grasp and put in there mouth, which make noises, light up or move.
Tip #18: I also keep a bag full of bite-sized candies as rewards for patient and good behavior. It helps to encourage the kids to behave while stuck in a confined place - which isn't easy.
Tip #19: To keep things interesting, I try to change the scene about every 20 minutes. Whether that is a new activity, a snack, a surprise, a trip to the bathroom to stretch the legs, or just a little treat.
Tip #20: Perhaps most importantly... store your busy bag in a closet when you get home, so these activities are saved for traveling. Then they’ll be new, fun and exciting for the next trip, too!
Awesome tips, Lisa - and just in time for a lot of Spring Break travelers. For more of Lisa's ideas, follow her on Instagram at @lifewith_raisingthebarrs
Safe travels this Spring Break and Happy Easter!