While I by no means have this raising humans thing figured out, I have learned a few tricks of the trade when it comes to herding a lot of little people and having some fun along the way, so, I've decided to do a little series on life hacks with little people. If you have any requests let me know!
Last week we were able to take our family of seven to Colorado to go snow skiing. While going on a family vacay with such a large family is a giant blessing, it is also a giant task. Packing for five kids, snow gear, crap for the plane, the list just goes on and on. When Cole was 10 months we went snow skiing. You would have thought we were moving there. I brought a giant jump activity play thing, a giant stroller, pack’n’play, million outfits AND shoes. Like legit a whole nursery. Um no. Not necessary. The more I travel with a herd of children the more I realize the less you bring the more you can enjoy your experience. So, here are few tips for how I travel with our zoo.
1. PACK LESS
When I only had a few kids I literally packed for every scenario. I was clearly channeling my inner Gilligan. Now, I pack the bare essentials and keep saying, if I forget something I can’t live without, surely their is a target near. Amazingly, I rarely have to actually purchase anything extra….it just helps me to pack light. It is also a giant plus, if your trip is longer, to just plan to do laundry. This trip I did a load of laundry every night and did a giant load the night before we headed home. Made unpacking and getting back to reality SO much easier. If their isn’t a washer and dryer accessible I’d either find a laundry mat or just wear your clothes a few days in a row. Ain’t no shame in that game. For this trip, we were staying 7 days. I brought 3 outfits including the one we were wearing. I don’t know about your kids, but my kids would wear the same nasty outfit every day if I let them, so I just let them live out that dream on vacay. I pack an extra pair of shoes, one set of pjs, socks, underwear and toiletries. In this case, I did have to pack a whole extra suitcase for snow clothes, but I was able to get all 5 kids stuff in one large suitcase.
2. IF YOU WANT IT, YOU CAN CARRY IT.
Flying with children can be another daunting task. Airport security gives me legit anxiety. I know I’m following all the rules, but I still start profusely sweating. God bless the airport security person who gets to pat me down EVERY TIME. When we fly with kids I pack them each a backpack. Some electronic device, books, coloring books and crayons or markers, and snacks. ALL.THE.SNACKS. Another little trick is I raid the dollar spot or dollar store. So, when half of said kid’s belongings get lost under the seat or down the pocket or wherever else they hide it, I’m not worried. I plan to trash most of it when I get home anyway. Our rule, if its yours, and goes in your backpack, you carry it. Last time I checked I’m not the pack horse or the resident servant…..carry your own crap. Rose even had a minnie backpack full of snacks and pacis. It was seriously the cutest.
3. RESET AND REORGANIZE AT THE END OF EACH DAY.
For me, with so many humans and SO.MUCH.CRAP. I try to gather and and organize everything each night. This makes packing up to go home a thousand times easier and it makes it easier to get out and going the next day. If we are staying in the same place for more than 2 nights I like to give each kid a drawer and work out of there. It tends to keep the clutter down and my sanity intact.
4. TALK, TALK, TALK.
With five kids, by the end of the day, I’m tired of hearing my own voice, but when traveling, dear god, I want to tell myself to shut up. But, alas, I don’t. With little ones traveling, Clay and I make sure that before each new activity we discuss what we are doing, how we expect them to behave, how long we will be there, if they will (or most likely will not) be getting a treat, and the consequences if they choose to not behave. We have some kids (ahem Cooper) who needs information. Being out of routine throws him, so talking through each thing tends to make everything run pretty smoothly.
5. RELAX AND REALIZE SH*T IS GONNA HIT THE FAN
I try really hard to anticipate everything that will go wrong and be prepared, but you just can’t. Just like in my life at home I have a pinterest reality and a real reality. I have learned to have a plan and hold it loosely. Inevitably, someone is going to lose their minds, somebody is going to poop, somebody is going to spill something EVERYWHERE. I’ve learned if you can take a deep breath in those moments, try and get perspective, maybe take a stellar insta photo, and realize its no big deal, it tends to deflate the situation. When on family vacay it helps to remember that I’m essentially just moving all my work to another location, but am going to make some killer memories while doing it.
All in all, this last trip was amazing. Packing very minimally made the travel days so much easier. Everyone knew what was expected of them and our flights were fairly. Other than a killer case of ringworm (a whole other blog post) and a kicking cold when we got home, I think the kids would say it was their favorite vacation to date.