Updated: Jan 19
So it’s time for a day trip, a family outing, a memory in the making! You packed everything well in advance - ...last night - and you even remembered to empty your phone’s memory bank to make room for this adventure’s photo album but there’s always that one last thing to round up before you leave… the kids, right.
I’ll be honest, I - only - have two of them with one being just 4 months old. My eldest though, is a very busy - wild - almost three year old who can be a challenge on her good days and an absolute impossibility on the rough ones. I often think it would be easier to just save the trouble and stay in our house instead of venturing in the real world - it never is - but I need to see daylight every once and awhile so here we stand, me at the door, ready to go. Where is this last important little thing that I mustn’t forget? Running around the house like a race car, yelling about which toys she is bringing - none… okay, one but let’s go or we’re going to be late! - and which she is NOT sharing but she could share if she could only bring moooorrreee.
When I finally get her into the car and buckled up - along with two dolls and a dinosaur… alright, I caved - I start to imagine how on earth I’m going to be able to keep this outgoing child of mine safe and contented on this trip. The drive was a little over an hour and during the trip I managed to decide on three easy strategies that wound up keeping everyone safe - tame - and sane throughout the long day.
Now, I’m not really talking about puppy dog style, childproof backpack with a tether type leash but if that's your thing and it works for you then,all the power to ya! I’m more so referring to the idea of bringing along tools - like baby carriers, backpack tethers, strollers, or whatever works for you - that will contain your child during especially hectic areas of interest. High traffic spots and exciting attention grabbing spots - where your kid is bound to run full speed toward it without a care for who or what might be in their way - are key to locate ahead of time (with a map, if provided - if not, send a scout! - ). The down - contained - time will keep them safe, make you travel faster through the transitional areas of your day trip location, and will give you ample time to snack-and-bevvy-up - a great bribe for getting them contained in the first place - so your ‘little’ doesn’t get hangry while being distracted by all the fun you’re having.
This is a dual notion. If there is a safe space to let your ‘little’ run, let them. They have energy and curiosity to spare. We are trying to make family memories and the best way to retain things is to experience them first hand. So, give them a little freedom. However, while letting them run out their energy, try to make sure you have the legs to keep tabs on them - either do it yourself or, better yet(!), bring along a buddy or an older sibling to keep up with them while you chill at the sidelines for a while.
Speaking of chilling: Take. Your. Time. There’s nothing worse for you and your ‘little’ than feeling the need to rush through an experience and miss out on all the little fun things that you only notice by slowing it down a notch. Besides, haven't you noticed that whenever you need something to go smoothly or happen quickly, something happens to make the exact opposite occur and usually that something is the fact that you were rushing in the first place. So, yeah... No, you may not get to every event or see every attraction but what you do see will be experienced fully and enjoyed by the whole family. You can always make plans for another trip in the future to catch up on what you may have missed.
At the end of the day, every moment spent with your ‘littles’ will be cherished, mostly just by you when they are young but as they get older they will approach family outings in a more positive way if they’ve experienced them happily in the past. Using these 3 easy strategies will let you go home at the end of your trip knowing that memories were made and fun was had by all.