10 Tips for Traveling With a Toddler

By: Brady Evans

Benjamin and I just completed our fourth flight – most of which I did with him solo. After doing this for awhile, I’ve come up with 10 tips to help moms deal with airports and such.

The beach at Grandma's!

The beach at Grandma’s!

10. You’ll never see these people again. Don’t stress out!

9. Remember that most of these people were babies themselves and had babies themselves. If your child is cranky give them a meek smile and make no excuses for yourself. Far more people understand your plight than you think.

8. Bring a change of clothes for the baby – and for you! I haven’t needed to use either, but with traveling comes a lot of close contact and a mess for the baby can easily turn into a mess for the both of you.

Benjamin playing in a somewhat empty airport gate area.

Benjamin playing in a somewhat empty airport gate area.

7. If you cloth diaper like I do – give it up and take disposables. Some things just aren’t worth it.

6. Dump out your child’s water cup before going through security. Doh! It is just water and I could have easily refilled it on the other side of security but having this cup means extra levels of screening with my baby and a carry-on.

5. Less is more. Don’t bother bringing reading material or your iPad. Baby isn’t going to be idle enough to let you read and won’t give a darn about your iPad. Ask me how I know.

4. Layovers are helpful. Direct flights are tempting but dealing with a squirmy baby with no breaks on a long flight is TOUGH. I chose flights with short-ish layovers to give myself a chance to change the diaper in the airport, stretch my legs, and give baby a change of scenery.

Pretzels!

Pretzels!

3. Snacks. Never underestimate the power of a pretzel even if you think the baby can’t possibly be hungry.

2. Standards. Lose them. Baby can have white flour for once. A Starbucks sugar-loaded frappucino isn’t so bad if it gives mom a pick-me-up.

Benjamin praying for an uneventful flight.

Benjamin praying for an uneventful flight.

1. Have fun!  Enjoy your getaway, laugh at your goofy kid, and let go.

Bonus tip: It doesn’t seem like a tip to me since it is such a big part of our life, but lose the stroller and wear your baby. You won’t have to take your baby off during security checks, you’ll have your hands free, and baby will be happy!

Coming Home

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Mary PatAs most of you know, I’ve been in Atlanta since mid-April. First in-patient at Shepherd Center, then outpatient at Pathways, Shepherd Center’s rehab facility. I went home one weekend and was strangely relieved to be back to the studio apartment I share with Mom. All three locations have been like a safe cocoon, and as I prepare to “graduate” and come back to Columbia, I am getting a little anxious to leave my safe places.

I’ve made remarkable progress. I’m walking again – stairs even – and talking again. I’m shopping, cooking and even working a little. I have been through a lot of intensive rehab, and I should feel confident about coming home.

But today, I have noticed a lot of little things that worry me. I still get fatigued fairly easily. I haven’t been able to resume my workouts. Every so often words come out funny. When I get tired or sit too long, I walk like a zombie. I get winded easily. I still have my full-day neuropsych test and three-hour driving evaluation. There’s also the follow-up with the ENT doctor, the one who did my trach and vocal cord surgery. What if one of those indicates additional issues? What then?

What if they missed something? Or what if I get back and find there were more issues from the aneurysm than I thought? It’s nerve wracking. I’m trying to take it one day at a time, but it’s hard not to think ahead.

Here, I’m one of the more advanced patients. At home, I’m afraid I won’t be back on my “A-game.” I’ve gotten used to being here and have gotten comfortable in my rehab routine. In July, I’ll be staying with Mom the first couple of weeks because her house is all on one level. And she’ll taking me to various follow-up doctors appointments. Once I get to my house, I’ll be returning to animals underfoot, rooms without grab bars and getting around on my own. That both thrills me and terrifies me!

I still have a few days here in my cocoon, so I guess I need to enjoy them. And take them one day at a time.

Summer Fun Baskets

By: Leah Prescott

This year we are taking a true summer break, free from formal studies. I am sure this won’t always be the case as we sometimes have subjects to work on over the summer or some catch-up from days lost over the year. Still, while “book learning” is fun, nothing can take the place of carefree summer days filled with playing in the sprinkler and hunting worms. I’m looking forward to my kids wearing themselves out in the sunshine and teaching them some new board games when the South Carolina heat gets unbearable.

Summer fun basket

On the other hand, I want to do all I can to preserve the knowledge my 8-year-olds have gained over this school year and get those little thinking muscles primed for third grade. I’ve been thinking of ways to help encourage learning without major preparation or angst for any of the parties involved. Today I wanted to share one of these ideas with you. Whether you homeschool or not, this is a simple idea that is easily adapted to many ages. Perhaps it isn’t revolutionary, but it’s easy…and sometimes that’s better.

Summer fun basket

I was pretty proud of myself for cleaning out our entire library area by the end of the school year. I had to prepare for our annual book sale, so my arm was twisted into action. I took stock of our materials, filed away completed work for our records, sold some unneeded items, and tossed a lot. All the pencils found their way back to the pencil boxes and I discovered that we actually own one billion crayons, which surprised me since the perfect colors always seem to be eluding my little artists.

Summer fun basket

After the big cleanup, I set aside a large basket for each child and started filling them with “summer fun.” There are only two rules for the contents of the baskets: they must be fun and they must require little or no supervision. Here are some of the things I added to these baskets:

Summer fun basket

  1. Pencil box with basic supplies: glue stick, crayons, pencils, scissors, ruler
  2. Clipboard and legal pads (My children love clipboards. Any writing project is instantly twice as enticing if a clipboard can be utilized.)
  3. Flash master handheld game (electronic flash cards)
  4. Construction paper, stickers, and stencils
  5. “Fun” workbooks (We like the ones in the Target dollar spot.)
  6. Three Ring Binder with cardstock (My girls like to “scrap book” with magazine cuttings.)
  7. Play-Doh or silly putty

Those are the basics that I added to start out. It’s nice to continue to refresh the basket throughout the summer. A new paperback book, card game, or puzzle would be fun to add. Bead kits, rainbow looms or embroidery kits for older children are perfect. I’m looking for a paint-with-water coloring book for my preschooler.

Summer fun basket

This is also a nice place to stick those prizes from Chick-fil-a that would otherwise get lost at the bottom of your purse or the freebie stickers that come in the mail. Really, the options are endless and can be tailored to your child’s interests or needs.

The only “rule” I give the kids about these baskets is that they clean up after themselves. Summer is the time when I really try to crack down on housework and form better habits, and the whole family has to be on board. (If anyone has any tips for teaching my 3-year-old to clean up after himself, they will be humbly received.) Of course, if you have any ideas for easy summer learning, I’d love to hear them in the comments!