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How to Prepare to Travel With a Toddler

So, you want to travel with a toddler?

Let me first commend you on being brave! Why? Taking a toddler anywhere is a feat of its own, but keeping them entertained, rested, and well fed when you’re not at home for several days, well that’s courage!

Now, I can only speak from experience and my experience has only been with my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, so do not take this as expert advice, but rather as a friend, telling you how I’ve prepared for our trips, and managed to enjoy our vacations.

Before the trip:

Make an Itinerary

  1. Start by writing down the places YOU want to see. Be selfish! You’re the one paying for this vacation anyway.
  2. Next, write down the places you want to take your children to experience. If they’re two like mine, and do not really care or know much about where they’re going, think about playgrounds, parks, aquariums, or other things they might find enjoyable.
  3. Be careful about planning a packed itinerary with only adult interests. While there are great museums in the world, not many two-year olds are interested in seeing paintings, even if it’s the Mona Lisa.
  4. Always add about 30-45 min more to each activity than what you think it might take you. You’re with children, they’re hungry at odd times, and need a diaper change when you’ve just entered an exhibition. In our visit to a museum it took us about 1 hour from the time we arrived, to the time we actually started seeing the exhibits. We arrived, made a line to go to the restroom, had a snack because we knew we were not going to be able to eat once inside, checked our backpacks and coats, and when we finished the snacks, she pooped her diaper, so here we go again to get our checked bags, make another line at the restrooms, and rechecked our bags.
  5. If you’re like me, you’re planning for this trip way before the weather forecast is available, and that is ok, because you can look at the climate history for the place you will be visiting to get a range of temperatures. Use this information to help you decide what activities/events might be feasible.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a type A personality. I need a plan, and the more specific the better; however, being a mom taught me that I can never be a stickler about sticking to a plan. I have to remember my child has only been on this planet for a few years. She knows nothing about agendas, or even the concept of time. Be flexible! Put your children first. If they’re tired, let them rest, if they’re hungry before you thought they were going to eat, feed them.

So, your itinerary is done. You’ve added points of interests for both adults and children. You allotted for more time in those points of interests than you think you’ll need, and you promise to be flexible, if the itinerary doesn’t pan out. You’re ready to begin thinking about what you’ll need to pack.

Packing for the trip

Since your itinerary is complete and you know what type of places you will be visiting, choosing what to pack is hopefully a little easier.

  1. Start by making a checklist of the items you and your children will need.
  2. Buy and/or order items you’ll need such as rain covers for strollers, rain/snow boots, etc.
  3. Begin packing a few days early, and the way to do this is by packing your ideal luggage, pack the ideal number of items you want to take, and begin removing until you get the desired weight and space you want your luggage to have.
  4. If you have a weight limit consider packing laundry detergent travel packets and wash a versatile piece of clothing such as jeans, or a solid colored shirt you can use twice on the trip. Do the same for the kids. You’ll always find space to hang the wet clothes somewhere in your hotel room. I’ve tried the packets on the link above, and it did a good job of taking off chocolate stains from my daughter’s sweater.
  5. Buy a luggage scale! We bought ours at Marshall’s for $7. It is practical, because it does not weigh much, and has saved us money in overages.

Preparing for the time on the airplane

You have your itinerary and you’re packed!

Now it’s time to think about the time you will spend sitting on the airplane with your child. Below I’ll tell you how to prepare for this scary time for parents.

An airplane is a scary place for me because I will be in a closed space with 100+ people that want to read and sleep for several hours. I don’t mind them, but I’m afraid to bother them. I do want to point out that if your child has a rough flight, you must not feel bad or guilty. After all, your baby is not behaving or acting in a certain manner out of malice. They’re just being their age.

That being said, I do believe there are some precautions you may take to delay/prevent such behaviors.

  1. Think about the time of day you’ll be flying. What does your child normally do during that time? Is it bedtime, nap time, lunch time, snack time? Pack for their needs.

What about that idle time when they’re awake? What do they do? What do I do?

  1. A few days before the trip, I head out to Dollar Tree, you know, that store where everything is $1. I buy a few items/toys that will entertain her. The number of items depend on the length of the flight. I buy some for the way there, and some for the way back. Why is that important? You see, it’s novelty! If your child has never seen a toy, they’re more likely to keep engaged for longer. I open up the packages and place them into Ziploc bags that weigh less and take up less space. I would say that on average, one toy will kill about 30 minutes time. Then, if those toys no longer fit in our luggage, I do not mind leaving them behind because they’ve cost $1.
  2. Optimize” the iPad/tablet- I know, I know, some of you might be against screen time, but you’re on vacation. If you want to enjoy a book, let them enjoy some movies, games, videos, or whatever they like to do on a tablet/iPad. Keep your children content during this time. They’ll enjoy to appreciate traveling, and the atypical things they get to do while on vacation. My husband and I call the iPad, plan B. This is what we take out when toys and coloring are no longer serving us for entertainment. Download some movies or shows from Netflix that your children like. Look for some educational apps that they can use without internet. Think about it this way, if the flight is 2 hours long, and they’re entertained for 1 hour with technology. You’ve kept people around you happy, your toddler entertained, and yourself sane. Now you just have one more hour to go.
  3. Candy/Chocolate-This was not an issue when my daughter was younger, but now that she is 2 1/2, she cannot sit still, and does not yet understand why she needs to wear a seatbelt for 15-20 minutes during takeoff, and another 15-20 minutes for landing. Because I do not expect her to understand, I keep my best tool for these moments. My secret is either a small chocolate bar, or lollipop. When it is time to stay sitting down with their seatbelt on, I ask her, “Do you want a lollipop?” She’ll say yes, and I’ll say, “if you want a lollipop you need to be sitting down with your seatbelt on.” Guess what she does? She sits down! By the time we’ve landed, she’s finishing her lollipop. Try it with your children and let me know how it goes.

You’ve arrived!

I have different tips for being on vacation with young children depending on the type of place that you’re visiting. Visit the rest of this section to see tips on traveling to an all-inclusive beach resort, Europe, Walt Disney World, and to a ski resort.

A good advice that I can leave you with is:

Vacations and family time are great, and we get to create beautiful memories. Understand that not all of the time in our destination is going to be a smooth sail, and that there might be bumps along the road. It is easier to get irritated at our children, partner, or family members when we have not been home in a few days, we are tired from sightseeing, or something did not pan out like you envisioned. Remember that they might be feeling the same way, especially our kids. This can be easier said than done but be patient with them. Children feel safe when there is consistency, and a vacation takes them out of their element. Take it slow! Make time for play and rest. Stop and enjoy the new place you’ve waiting to visit.

I wish that you get an ideal weather for you vacation, and that beautiful memories are made.

With Love,

Irma

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Ninja Precision Processor and Auto Spiralizer Review with Video demonstration

Honestly, I purchased this Ninja food processor a few months ago, but I had not used it because I was not familiar with how to use it. Also, I did not give myself time to go through their instructional manual.

With summer right around the corner, I knew I wanted to get back on the “healthy lifestyle” wagon. You know how that goes, “I will start eating healthy this coming Monday!” I am very guilty of that. I am guilty of going through “healthy” phases in which I really watch what I eat, and exercise more.

In addition, one of my struggles if making healthy meals that my daughter would also want to eat.

So when I jumped back into the eating healthy lifestyle, I started looking for recipes for that were healthy, easy, quick, and likely to be liked by my daughter. Was I crazy for wanting a recipe that encompassed all of that? Maybe, I am a little crazy, but that’s the kind of recipe mothers in this modern fast paced world need!!

After a few minutes of googling, I came across a zucchini pasta. Pasta looking veggies, meatballs, and a healthy tomato sauce was the combination I was looking for. Not even remembering that I had that machine in my pantry, I purchased a bag of zucchini noodles from my local grocery store.

It wasn’t until my sweet, yet tight on money husband, questioned me. He asked why I purchased a small expensive bag of zucchini noodles when I had a machine that could do the same thing, and produce double the amount of those noodles at half the price.

Anyway, to why you’re here. The review:

Benefits:

  1. chops vegetables fairly fine in a few pulses.
  2. most vegetables are similar in size, so end product looks evenly cut.
  3. saves you time.
  4. spiralizing your own vegetables is more cost effective than buying the pre-cut noodles.
  5. because you’re saving time, and cutting or spiralizing your vegetables is done quickly you’re more likely to eat healthy.

Drawbacks:

  1. initial investment of $119.
  2. whole product comes with 10 pieces that you would have to store in your cabinets.

Overall, I would buy it again. The benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Do not let the number of parts overwhelm you. It is actually simple to use once you have done it a few time. You can currently find the Ninja Precision Processor and Spiralizer in Amazon

Using the Ninja Spiralizer:

Using the Ninja Food Processor demonstration:

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4 ways to help your child recognize their name

Can your child name the letters in his/her name and place them in the correct order?

  1. Letter magnets.

Place them on the refrigerator or in a baking sheet. Remove all letters that are not in their name. Allow them to rearrange and manipulate the letters as they wish.

2. Paper cutouts

3. Play-dough

Spend some time rolling out the letters in your child’s name. Capital letters are easier to roll and should be the first introduced.

4. Paper plates

Order 8 prints of your child’s picture.
Glue the 8 pictures onto the 8 different paper plates.
Write your child’s name under each picture.
Use painter’s tape and tape them around the house at your kid’s eyesight level.

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6 Questions to help you start your family’s holiday tradition

Christmas is around the corner! By now most families know where they’ll spend this holiday, with whom, and what they’ll do when they’re there.

My husband and I have spent 6 Christmases together, and every year we’ve alternated between his family and mine.

Even in alternating years, we don’t always go to the same family member’s home. One year it can be with my in-laws, and the next time it’s my husband’s family’s turn, it might be at his brother’s.

Now, with an 18 month old daughter, I’m thinking we do not have a Christmas tradition of our own.

I have a co-worker who wanted stability for their daughter. She has dinner with her husband’s family on Christmas Eve and always drives home. While at home, they set everything up for Santa and even drops reindeer food in her backyard!

I can say that our Christmas tradition growing up was having tamales with the same salsas and deserts every year for dinner on Christmas Eve. Then, we would play Loteria, and sing karaoke until midnight when we would open presents given by family members. We would then wake up to presents left by Santa in the morning.

Here are some questions for you and your significant other to ask each other when starting your own family tradition:

1. What story do we want our kids to stay when they’re asked about their Christmas Eve/morning?

2. What do we value? Family time? Time at church?

3. Which of your old family traditions are you willing to give up? Which have to stay?

4. How can we mesh both of our families’ traditions?

5. Where will we spend this holiday?

6. What meal/side/desert is a must?

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Eight Games that Promote Addition, Subtraction, and Counting

Six reasons why learning with board games is better than flash cards

1. Board Games are fun! Of course!

2. Your children will develop their math knowledge without even knowing.

3. They are more likely to find the interesting patterns that encompass mathematics.

4. Kids are more apt to play games than to flip through flash cards.

5. They will relate what they are learning in school to this very real world application.

6. Their competitive edge will give them the motivation they need to aim for mastery.

8 Games that promote Addition, Subtraction, and Counting

We made it easy for you, click on the game board pictures for a direct link to Amazon.com.

1. Fish Stix: A strategy game in which players count and add to get their six fish tokens to the end of the board game. This game teaches addition facts from 0-10. Example: If one of the fish tokens is on number 2 and they have to move three spaces. It will help them reinforce that 2 and 3 is 5 without any flash cards. When this happens, ask what number sentence just happened? They should respond 2+3 = 5. 

board games learning addition
Click here to buy on Amazon!

2. Connect 4: With Connect 4 you can teach the doubles strategy for addition. When you’re playing this game point out 2+2 = 4, 4 +4 is 8, and 8+8 =16. You can also help your children by exposing them to see equal groups of four being repeated over and over, a precursor for multiplication.

goard games learn addition
Click here to buy on Amazon!

3. Sorry!: More than anything, Sorry! will help your child by gaining fluency with counting. To help them get that additional practice, ask them to move your pawn. 

board games learn counting
Click here to buy on Amazon!

4. Chutes and Ladders: Chutes and Ladders is a super fun game to teach counting. I love it because the game board is numbered, and it goes up to 100. With this, it will be easier for them to find the patterns involved within addition and subtraction. This means that it doesn’t matter at what number you are, if you have a 4 on the ones place (number on the farthest right) and you add 3, your ones sum will always be 7. Another example is: 

  • “Hey Johnny, when you were at six and added two you stopped at 8. Very similar to to mine. I was at 16, added two, and now I am on 18. Every time you add a 6 and a 2 you will end with an 8.”-Refer to this as a fact family and ask them if they notice any other fact families throughout the game.

board games learn addition subtraction
Click here to buy on amazon!

5. Sum Swamp: This game is by a company I like called Learning Resources. Sum Swamp is made specifically to teach addition and subtraction. It even comes with an operation die! Kids move only after they have completed an addition or subtraction problem. It even reinforces the concept of 0, because if they get 5-5, they do not move from their current spot. 🙂 Fun times!

board games learn addition subtraction
Click here to buy on amazon!

6. Trouble: Trouble will help your child with counting every-time they move spaces. If you ask them to find out the total number of spaces they need to go all away around the board, and subtract the number of spaces the die dictates, it will help reinforce the concept of subtraction. Subtraction is a “total” that gets a part or parts taken away.

board games learn counting
Click here to buy on Amazon!

7. Hungry Hungry Hippos: This fun paced classic is a must for players ages 4 and up. The game provides you with 20 marbles. The hippo that eats the most marbles is the winner. When playing this at home with your kids ask them to create the different number sentences that add up to 20, or ask them, “if mommy got 10 marbles, what are the possible combinations of numbers for the remaining three players?” Possible answers can be, “I know I have 5 so daddy can have 3 and sister might have two, because 10 + 5 is 15, 15 +3 is 18, and 18 +2 is 20.”

Board games learn counting addition subtraction
Click here to buy on amazon!

8. Pay Day: This game is best suitable for children that have more of a solid foundation with addition and subtraction, so if throughout this article you felt that your child was past the games above, Pay Day might just add that extra challenge. This game will require them to add and subtract within the thousands. Throughout this game point out the power of zero, and how as long as you know your basic facts, the math should be easy to solve. 

learn addition board games
Click here to buy on Amazon!

Happy learning and bonding time while your kids are at home!

-The Stay At Home Kids Team

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