Summer holidays are just around the corner. And with them long car journeys, annoying train rides and exhausting flights – at least if you travel with small children. Our author Silke reveals here her top 5 tricks to keep your offspring (and yourself!) happy while travelling.
“When are we finally daaaaa?”
Do you remember this great commercial from the 90s where a family goes on holiday by car? There are dialogue shreds like: “Where is my toy?” – “I can’t get to it now”, a hissed “I’m getting a divorce” from the passenger seat and (my personal favorite) the sulking “Daddy is a crackwurst” from the back seat.
When the commercial came out, I found it funny (“Hihi, the kid said knackwurst.”). Today, two and a half decades and two children later, I feel one thing above all: compassion for my parents. I mean: We all get this slightly frightening premonition as the holiday approaches. The oppressive feeling of being at the mercy of boredom, nagging questions and infantile fits of rage on the plane or in the train – without a chance to escape. And then there are the looks of the other travellers, the tears of the children and above all: their own nerves, which can withstand a lot every day – but certainly not four hours with two small children in an overcrowded train compartment.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably beginning to panic about your upcoming trip. (Excuse me!) But don’t worry: I’ll take it away from you right now! In my meanwhile five and a half mummy years, which were connected professionally and familially with many flights, car and train journeys, I discovered successively all secret weapons for relaxed travelling with babies and small children. Here are my five favourites for you:
1. trust the classics
It’s so simple – and yet so fascinating for my five-year-old: “I see something you can’t see” he could play for hours. The nice thing is that even our two-year-old daughter is already playing (as far as she can) and happily points to things in the color she’s looking for (provided she already knows the color). The game needs no utensils and no table or other space – and is therefore the perfect children’s entertainment at room volume, even in a crowded train.
If you are travelling with your own car, singing together is always a big hit. Short, concise texts are suitable for the very little ones, who of course are not yet able to give their best. Songs with animals are especially popular, of course. I must say, here the animal friend song book proved itself with us. It is cute to look at, does not overtax the kids and there is also something to learn about animals and numbers.
2. Let your children search
No parent wants to play for hours on end. If I’m sick of searching for things (but not my kids yet), I send them on their own: “The first one to see a sheep has won!” is an announcement that at best gives you 15 minutes of rest and busy children. The upgrade for professionals: Create a list of painted objects in advance. Sheep, cloud, church, ambulance, bridge and the like. The child gets a pen and can always tick off if he sees something on the list. (Small restriction: This doesn’t work so well in the airplane – unless you let the children look for the lucky bears in the clouds. But in my experience they quickly realize that it doesn’t help …)
3. do everything differently
I got this tip from a mother when I first took the train alone with two children. And it’s worth its weight in gold: you always carry apples and cucumbers with you? Take bananas and pears with you on your travels. Or a muesli bar they don’t know yet. And a roll from the baker that you get from a bag instead of a Tupper can. Get other drinks or just pour the water into another bottle. For a simple reason: children always find new things exciting, exciting, cool. Any deviation from the norm is a huge source of distraction and interest. The Schmause-Pause can become a real small event.
4. be well equipped
Employment is the be-all and end-all. Especially when travelling with small children who are not yet able to play complex games and who cannot be inspired with unusual food. For babies, their favourite toy should therefore be within reach – and not at the bottom of the heavy suitcase. For my children, Fisher-Price’s play zebra has been a big hit right from the start: it rattles and wobbles, is colourful and moves, has grip rings and much more to discover.
5. Don’t be perfect
And last but not least, a tip that really comes from the heart: Don’t stress yourself more than absolutely necessary. On a six-hour train ride, you don’t have to be the mother who constantly dazzles her children, reads one book after another to them and talks to them in whispering voice. Neither you nor your children have to prove anything to the other travellers. If everything gets too much and too stressful for you, loud swearing is just as allowed as a little Naschi as a distraction. (Also for the parents by the way.) And yes: If everything doesn’t help, my children also watch “Fireman Sam” or “Paw Patrol” on the tablet on long journeys. (And after that we start again at point 1 on this list.)
I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday – and a relaxed journey there!
Looking for more little distraction highlights on the go? Then just have a look at beifisher-price.com.
Silke Schröckert wanted to become a journalist since she first saw Lois Lane in “Superman” at the age of eight. At the age of 23 she became editor-in-chief of a children’s magazine publishing house.
Today Silke specializes in family topics and writes texts for children’s and comic magazines. This is especially pleasing for her son Tom and daughter Mina. On her own page she writes for the generation grandparents. At wireltern.de she takes on current topics from the perspective of a mother of two.
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