This article was first published on Momaha on May 28, 2015.
Nothing screams “summer” like taking a family vacation that is sure to leave lasting memories and plenty of photos to laugh at for years to come. When the kids are out of school, families take advantage of the warm weather to hit national parks, the beach or a new city to explore.
While family vacations teach us fanny packs should never come back in style and that TVs in cars and squeezable applesauce might be the best ideas ever, preparing to leave town can provide excellent learning opportunities for your little one as well.
Here are some tips to make leaving town less stressful and more fun for the family:
1. Utilize the preparation time by teaching your family how to pack their own bags. Seriously, this can be a great learning experience! Help your kids determine the number of outfits they will need by telling them the number of vacation days and then asking them to add two onto that. (These are kids, after all. You can bet something will occur along the way that will require an extra change of clothes.)
2. Next, make an illustration that includes a number, a word description of the item needed and a picture of that item. If you will be gone four days, the child should put the number six, the word underwear and then a simple picture of underwear. This should be done for each item to be packed. Your child can use this visual as a reference while packing. They can cross-off the items on the list as they go along.
3. Have your child lay their clothes out on their bed for you to check. Count them, check for appropriate choices and praise them for their efforts. If adjustments need to be made, have them help.
4. Allow your children to put their clothing in their bag or suitcase. Offer suggestions, but allow them to do it themselves. As tempting as it is to simply pack for your child, allowing them to help gives them responsibility and helps them build confidence.
As an aside, we caution you to check each suitcase as you load them into the car – whether you are on your way to the airport or taking a road trip. One family did not and upon arrival to their destination, it was discovered that their 3-year-old had decided at the last minute that it was more important to have her collection of stuffed puppies with her than the clothes that her mom had checked and had her put into her carry-on suitcase. There were absolutely NO clothes in her suitcase – only puppies!
If you allow plenty of time to pack, the preparation can be fun. Happy vacationing!