• De-Stressing Holiday Travel


    Ready to embrace imperfection?

    That’s the best way to survive—and maybe even enjoy—getting together with the relatives this holiday season.

    Sure you’ve had to drag the kids through crowded airports, paying through the nose for the privileges.

    Just keep smiling and remind yourself these gatherings help us and, more important, our kids feel connected when we live so far apart.

    Making the trip easier can help. Book direct flights, even if they cost a bit more. (You don’t want to miss a connection when your flight is delayed!) Fly early in the day. Bring some new toys to amuse the kids and your own food (so you know you have what you need) and reusable water bottles you can fill when you get through security. Go ahead and purchase a seat for your baby. The FAA recommends you do. Young children are far safer in turbulent skies when securely strapped in a safety seat.

    Most important, leave the emotional baggage at the door when you arrive. No sniping about anyone’s weight, politics or career choice. No disciplining anyone else’s kids. (That had years-long repercussions in my family.)

    Make it easier on the host. Bring along your own portable crib or rent one. You don’t want to use one that has been in the attic for 20 years and is not up to the latest safety standards. Stash a crib sheet and the baby’s night light in the suitcase. Having their familiar sheet and night light can help them adjust to an unfamiliar environment, pediatricians suggest.

    Bring the Tofu, organic baby food and whatever else your gang can’t live without these days. If you’re flying, call ahead and ask your host to pick up what you need at the grocery store and—this is key—offer to pay for the groceries. Suggest—nicely—that for the kids, sauces should be left on the side.

    Volunteer to get everyone out of the house for a while. Head to the local holiday lights display. Do a little research on what museums, aquariums or zoos might be offering for the holidays. Suggest a new movie like Paddington Bear, due out at Christmas. Just don’t spring for any expensive tickets before checking with everyone.

    Set the ground rules for the kids. Even five year olds can make their beds, roll up their sleeping bags and pick up their toys. Tip: take them on a “house tour” with your host when you arrive and go over the rules—no food in the living room, the office computer is off limits, no teasing the dog or letting the cat out.

    Bring a favorite board game or holiday movie as a house gift.

    How about a recipe everyone can make together?

    Keep your mouth shut no matter how atrocious your nephew’s behavior or how overcooked the holiday roast.

    Just remember, it could be worse. They could all be at your house.

    Eileen Ogintz is the author of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids and the series of Kid’s City Guides. The newest books in the series—The Kid’s Guide to San Diego has just been published; The Kid’s Guide to San Francisco will be out in November and The Kid’s Guide to Denver and Colorado Ski Country in December. Find @TakingtheKids on Twitter and Facebook.

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