December 17 2009 by Claudia Kunkel
You know, this time of the year can be, and usually is, very stressful. The planning, the baking, the shopping, the presents and the relatives (even the ones you like) add to the stress. As the mom, most of these tasks usually fall to me and I wonder every year if I can create and recreate the wonderful memories that will hopefully stay with my girls until they leave the nest and start their own traditions. All of this running around and planning brought back memories of when the girls were younger and we always traveled back to the Midwest to celebrate Christmas with our families. So, I decided to offer some unsolicited advice on one more thing that might add to parents' stress over the holidays and that is - traveling to Grandma's and Grandpa's house (or relative of your choice).
At our home, we celebrate Christmas, so here are a few of my tried and true tactics to traveling with the kids that might help make this year's travel a little more relaxing and put the true spirit of the holidays back where it belongs - in your heart.
- Our girls were always very concerned about how Santa would find them. To alleviate that concern, I would have them sit down and write a very detailed letter to Santa giving him the exact GPS location of where they would be down to the last detail of the point of entry into the home. This really seemed to ease their mind and make leaving home less fretful for them and helped to create excitement for the trip. For added assurance, I would add my own note to Santa requesting him to deliver all the presents to the address of where we would be.
- Pack up all the extra clothing you'll need for yourself and the kids and ship them ahead, especially if you're traveling somewhere where the weather is much colder. Those warmer clothes take up a lot of room in the suitcase. Shop early and send all the presents on ahead with the clothing. It makes checking in at the airport or packing up the car so much easier.
- Do some research ahead of time and find out what holiday activities are taking place where you're going. You may be surprised to find out that some of the very same traditional holiday events are happening wherever you're headed. Tell the kids and let them pick and choose which ones they want to go to. It creates some anticipation and lets them feel a part of the planning.
- Don't forget those favorite holiday movies! In our home, it just isn't Christmas if we don't watch "Christmas Story" at least twice. Let the kids pick 1 or 2 of their favorites and pack them along. The same goes for your family's favorite holiday cookie recipes--the kids will feel right at home making all their traditional treats.
Those are a few of my suggestions for making this holiday travel a little more stress-free and enjoyable for everyone. It doesn't mean that there weren't those moments when you wondered why you ever thought traveling over the holidays would be fun, but in the end it was well worth every minute of planning ahead. We have some great memories of Christmas with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma and grandpa; and really, isn't that what it's all about?