Travelling With A Toddler

Travelling with a toddler is different to travelling with baby. Recently we learned how very different it can be.

General Tips

  • Research thoroughly planes, airports, hotels and anywhere you will have to wait. Find out what facilities are there and if there are any things to entertain children (in flight entertainment, play areas, kids clubs etc). This can be a life saver.
  • Packing – pack minimally and utilise laundry services.
  • Try not to take the favourite toy, that if lost would spell disaster. Take easily replaceable stuff.
  • If renting a car make sure you have a baby seat allocated with your booking.

At The Airport

  • If your travelling internationally then you will be there are a good couple of hours at least, which is not factoring in possible delays. Airports are not designed for children so keeping children entertained is a struggle. We were lucky that a good window overlooking the airport runway was enough to keep our son entertained. We also had a wonderful thing called a trunki. It is a carry on luggage for kids that allows you to put everything you need (nappies, wipes, toys, food etc). Best of all though it can be used as a toy; your child can push it around (which my son did for ages), can be pulled with the strap, or rode on (and pulled with a strap by an adult). If you travel a lot I can not recommend this enough.
  • Remember it can take double the time to get through security, walk to your departure gate etc. Always allow for a heap of time to get to your gate for boarding.
  • Riding on the train/bus between terminals can entertain children (if you can access it and its free bonus).
  • Some airports do have children areas for kids to play/eat in.

On The Plane

  • Pre-allocate your seat, either pay extra and get the seats you want, or try online check in and pick your seats. Seats near toilets, or flight hostesses galleys can be helpful. But make sure the seat reclines, there is nothing worse then being stuck with a sleeping child on you and you cant get even remotely comfortable.
  • Remember with young children you can not sit in exit row seats. See if you can get a baby bassinet seat.
  • Check if you can get some sort of priority treatment. Some airlines allow parents with kids to board first. There is usually a fee but it can mean you are boarding the plane with out the hassell of other people waiting behind you as you get your self and your child/children settled.
  • Make sure everything you need for your child/children is out of the over head luggage compartment. If your flight is delayed and your left sitting on the tarmac for awhile this will be helpful.
  • Try to time your flights around or near your childs sleep times or awake times.
  • Have something the child can eat/drink to help with ear popping.
  • iphone/ipads can be great entertainment. Alternatively you can try in flight entertainment (some international flights actually have games kids can play).
  • Think outside the box for entertainment; two plastic empty cups and a plastic spoon can entertain a toddler or baby for ages.
Sightseeing
  • Plan sightseeing around your childs nap and eating times. Especially if you dont have a pram for your child to fall asleep in.
  • Be realistic about what your child will be entertained by, or want to see. Tramping around a shopping centre for hours may not be your child’s idea of a good time, or going on the roller coaster even possible. However a trip to the zoo or aquarium may keep your child entertained for awhile. Also while at a family friendly place it may not be your baby friends as in a 3 hour performance with elephants at 9pm is not going to be realistic attraction for a toddler who is normally in bed by then.
  • Look into baby sitting services so you can do more “adult” activities like a massage or shopping.
  • If you are visiting somewhere you go to regularly have a good think about your “must see” attractions or “must do” activities. Can it wait till next time?
At The Hotel/Accomodation
  • Check out baby sitting services or kids club to give you a much needed break from each other.
  • Before you arrive ask if a pram can be rented/provided. This could save you on valuable luggage weight limit by not taking your pram with you.
  • A hotel close to the sights you want to see make sightseeing easier and more convenient.
  • Arrange prior to arrival any cots or children’s beds you may need.
  • Two separate kids meals can be expensive but one adult meal divided between two kids can save money.

The Great Toy Sales – Shopping Etiquette

In Australia, the season for the mega toy sales is here. Why are they so big? for one, all three major stores (Big W, K-Mart and Target) have heaps of toys reduced in price. Another reason is said toys can be lay-byed (lay-away to our overseas readers) till Christmas! There are some great bargains to be snapped up in this sale period, and some excellent toys become available that may not normally be in the stores.

But like the Boxing Day sales, something comes over the normally happy shoppers who venture into the stores to purchase their toys. Suddenly they become meaner, shifty-er, sneaky-er and more ruthless. The shopper who normally would be happy to let the little old lady go first down the aisle, would now mow her down with a trolley, back up and take another swipe if it meant getting that LAST toy. While on one hand that is a rather extreme example, I have heard far to many stories of out of control shoppers doing insane things at sales.

Fortunately the worst thing I have had happen to me was a woman run, yes run to beat me to an aisle. She threw a triumphant smile over her shoulder as she sauntered down. I didn’t have the heart to say I had no interest in being in that particular aisle and that I was only going down it so I could get out of that section. So she raced for nothing.

So anyway it got me thinking. What are some basic shopping etiquette tips to stop you from turning to something even the incredible Hulk would think twice about annoying?

  • Unless you are the Queen or A President, or maybe even Katy Perry NEVER EVER queue jump.
  • If you can do not go against the crowd. If you do acknowledge the person who has stopped to let you through and thank them.
  • Avoid biting, scratching, hissing, screaming, or any thing else resembling an ally cat fighting.
  • Avoid screaming (or muttering darkly) “you’re going down bitches” or other such nasty comments, unless you really want a black eye.
  • There is no need to abuse, harangue, or yell at staff. They are just doing their job, and are probably as overwhelmed as you are with all the people. But if you want to give some one an excellent “man I met the worst customer ever” type story go right ahead, or if your really lucky security will be called and you will be hauled away yelling and screaming.
  • If you will be going when there is a good chance of crowds don’t take the kids. Seriously just don’t do it yourself. Your sanity and fellow shoppers will thank you.
  • If you need help from the sales assistants, be as specific as possible.
  • If you need to make a complaint keep your cool, and stick to the facts. Ranting (no matter how justified) at the service desk staff will only induce the “ice” stare and a less than helpful attitude.
  • Dont block aisles with your shopping cart, this will not stop people getting past you and may result in having abuse hurled in your direction.
  • Do not push or crowd the counter, it will not get you served any quicker.
  • Keep phone calls to a minimum while in the store packed with people. No one really wants to know how many poopy nappies you have changed, or what strange object your dog hacked up, or even that your Grandma was arrested for streaking (ok people might be curious about that one). Like wise no one wants to hear you negotiating the next big deal. Save your phone calls till you are outside of the shop, or keep them short and sweet.

Or you could save yourself a tonne of pain and agony and shop online as all three major shopping retailers offer online lay-by service for the sales. I actually know a lot of people this year who are taking this option.

Big W and K-Mart’s sales start this Friday and Target’s toy sale starts towards end of July.

Happy shopping!

Have you got any other etiquette tips? or things that shoppers do that drive you nuts? I would love to hear them or your own funny shopping rage story.

What I have Learned In A Year

I recently read a post on my fellow bloggers page where she discussed what she had learned in her first 6 months of mother hood (please check her out at Stacy’s Books). I thought to myself this might be a fun thing to do for myself now being just over a year since I became a mum and had to learn the hard way (as we all do) how to raise a child. So I thought I would list some of the things I have learned:

      • Yes there is poo/vomit/wee/food/unknown substance on/in my hair/clothes/hand/seat, so what?
      • You can survive on sugar and caffeine (Thanks Stacy for that one!).
      • You do adjust to lack of sleep. Heck I now consider four hours IN A ROW to be bloody good.
      • You learn to doge projectile poo/wee/vomit.
      • My reflexes are like a ninjas now. I reach speeds I didn’t know existed.
      • Eddie Murphy’s skit about his mother’s hearing (and subsequently boomerang shoes) in Delirious, I now realise is not just a funny skit. It was a true account! my hearing is now bionic.
  • I am constantly amazed at my child’s ability to find the one thing in the room he is not meant too.
  • No matter how much you baby proof you probably haven’t done enough.
  • This is the one time in your life someone doesn’t think you are a bad singer so sing it up!
  • Your life and how you view life will change forever.
  • There is nothing worse than a sick baby.
  • You learn to live with always feeling guilty because no matter what you do you are doing it wrong in someones eyes.
  • Not to give a rat a** what anyone else thinks, as long as my partner and I are happy with our child rearing decisions then that is all that matters.
  • What works for one baby probably wont work for another.
  • With out fail if you say something stupid to some one in public like “my baby never…..” said baby will then proceed do what ever it is they don’t normally do.
  • Most house chores can wait.
  • Hearing your baby laugh has to be one of the best moments ever, and never grows old.
  • What you think your baby will like, baby will probably ignore. Random thing like a box however will entertain your baby for days.
  • Just when you think you have it all worked out your baby changes and you have to learn again.

Travelling with a Baby – By Plane Part 2

Recently we set off for our third trip away with our son. We were prepared. We had been here before and our son travelled brilliantly so why would this time be any different?

Well for one he could now crawl, and was cruising. So ALL he wanted to do was power crawl everywhere. No sitting or sleeping contentedly on the plane or while we waited in airports. Oh No, he wanted to move his little tuckus.

So we deployed all the tricks we had and they did worked well up to a point. Then the unhappiness started. I say unhappiness because thankfully our son at this stage is not really a tantrum thrower or a screamer (he is only just a year old though so give him time). But he got loud and he cried, which resulted in the “look” from other travellers.

So my biggest travel tip would now be; prepare for the inevitable tantrum. Because it is coming, it is just a matter of when. There is nothing you can do either except watch helplessly as the little nuclear bomb that is a baby/toddler tantrum goes off spectacularly.

In the end we just had to let him crawl. Luckily we had access to Qantas club, which is a more private area to wait between flights. We choose a corner not really inhabited by other people, then let our son loose. When even this failed finding a spot by the window overlooking the airport runways was another good distraction.

My next tip would be if traveling a fair distance or more than one leg, try not to travel alone. Having someone else there to hold the baby, or give you a breather is just magical. Plus if all else fails you can hand your baby over and go curl up in a ball yourself and rock back and forth for a while.

I really wish airports would cater to families and make them more friendly to children. Maybe like an airline club there should be a children’s club area.

It will be interesting what our next trip will be like because no doubt our son will be walking and probably talking by that stage. Oh joy!

Travelling With Baby in a Car

Taking that first road trip with your baby can be daunting task.

Here are some tips that will hopefully make the trip an easier one.

  • Feeding – If you’re feeding formula, this one’s pretty easy. Make sure you have a way to warm up the bottles in the car (there are many products on the market for this) and you’re set. Don’t forget to pack enough formula, bottles, and water. If your breast-feeding, well there is nothing else to plan for. Also if your baby is eating solids make sure you bring enough along.  When the car is stopped try nursing the baby while he or she is still in the car seat. This usually involves some form of dangling, draping, or leaning over the seat, but babies don’t seem to mind. This can also be an excellent comfort if baby gets fussy in the car seat, or can be the thing that helps soothe baby off to sleep.
  • Regular Stops – Make sure you plan regular stops. This is good for both baby and grown ups. Both get a change of scenery, some fresh air and a good time to eat and take care of ahem business.
  • Sleeping – If you can, start your trip about the time of baby’s longest nap – or even around baby’s bedtime. Many babies find the motion of the car to be soothing, and many babies take longer naps while traveling.
  • Give Baby a Friend – Consider having one parent sit in the backseat with the baby while the other drives. Many times, babies fuss in the car seat because they’re simply lonely and bored back there. Having someone to look at, play with, and talk to can help turn an unhappy baby into a content one.
  • It Will Take Longer than it used to – There’s no getting around it – trips with a baby just take longer. You’ll be making more frequent stops and the stops will probably be longer. Plan for this upfront so you’re not stressed out once you get on the road. Calm parents help make a calm baby.
  • Stops – Don’t plan marathon stretches of driving. Invest in a map that shows where the roadside rest areas are – this information can come in really handy when baby starts trying to break the sound barrier with its voice and you’re trying to decide whether to pull over or keep going.
  • Feeding – it’s easy to let baby sleep through a feed or think “just five more minutes”. It will be easier to keep your baby’s feeding schedule as close to their normal routine as possible. It will save tears and stress on both sides in the long run.
  • Routine – Again keep the routine as similar as possible to home.
  • New Toys – for older babies a new special toy can be a great distraction. A mirror and can also be a fun toy for a baby to talk to. Like wise tape some light toys to the roof, create a viewing poster, or make a chain of light weight toys to string across the car seat. Be creative! We had our son amused with a simple empty soft drink cup for ages (washed and cleaned of course).
  • Books – if your baby is old enough some books with bright colours (or a photo book with relatives) can keep your baby entertained as well. The emergency exit laminated sheet kept out son entertain for quite a while.
  • Car seat – NEVER TAKE YOUR BABY OUT OF IT’S CAR SEAT WHILE DRIVING. It is so tempting to put a parent in the back and drive with baby to soothe. But it is illegal and dangerous.
  • Let there be light – some babies do not like travelling in the dark. If this is the case with yours, try turning on the back seat light (if there is one), take a portable battery-powered lamp and put that on.
  • Play that funky music – many babies find “pop” music soothing. Try some beetles or easy listening. Better yet if you can stand it some children’s music like The Wiggles can be great for babies.
  • Practice – do some dry runs before hand and see how your baby copes. That way you identify before hand areas you need to address. Much better than finding out while doing 100 kph down the highway.
  • Sunshade – a sun shade on the window helps prevent sun burn on your child and keeps them cool in their seat.
  • Sightseeing – plan your sight-seeing stops around your baby’s sleep routine. Obviously do not go to a noisy busy place while your baby is sleeping. Try and go somewhere more sedate (like a park or museum). Save the action packed aquarium full of screaming, excited older children for when you baby is awake.

Most of all remember to have fun!

Please share any of your tips.

The “jab”

This post isn’t meant to ignite debate about vaccination, and if it’s the right, or wrong thing to do.

My question is simple. If you have a preemie baby, do you vaccinate on the vaccination schedule, or do you vaccinate to the childs adjusted age?

Every person I ask tells me something different.

What do YOU think?

Organising Digital Photos 101

Well Christmas has come and gone for another year, and if you’re in the same boat as me this was your child’s first Christmas. So you probably went an itsy bitsy mental taking photographs.

Lets face it, since your child was born you have probably gone crazy taking photos. So now you have all these photographs what do you do with them? have them all saved into one file called My Photos? scattered all over the place? or don’t really know? Digital camera’s have made it really easy to take hundreds of shots in one session. This can be great because it means you will probably get one fantastic shot, it can also be a burden when you have to stored thos photographs later.

Your photographs are like any record, they should be findable. Think of it like this, in twenty years time when your child is about to have his 21st birthday and you want to pull out that hilarious photograph of him face planted in his birthday cake. You look on your computer and jaw hits the floor. When you pick your jaw up off the floor, what do you see? a folder marked my photos with 5000 photographs in it. You then are faced with the daunting task of trolling through ALL those photographs to locate maybe one or two. Sound like fun? no? didn’t think so.

So ensuring all those precious memories are locatable in the future is important. I have listed below some tips for organising your digital photographs.

  • Establish a folder filing system that works for you. This is important because you ned to be able to maintain the system in the years to come. Normally you would have 3-4 levels of folders. It would look something like this My Photos – 2010 – Birthdays – Grandpa Bubba 90th or perhaps My Photos – Birthdays – 2010 – Grandpa Bubba 90th.

Screenshot of logical folder structure

  • Always back up your files. Preferably to a few sources like a back up hard drive, DVD, or USB stick, and if you can an online website like flickr, picasa, or photobucket. Why? accidents happen; a hard drive can corrupt and die, a disaster can destroy your hard drive and the back up hard drive. This is where an online back up can come in handy, in the event of a disaster where everything in your house is wiped out then your photos are still stored somewhere safe.
  • Invest in a good photo management software. There are heaps out there now and most will do what you need them to do. Adobe has probably the best known one on the market, but shop around and see which one you prefer better (for ease of use and capabilities). I personally use Lightroom which does everything I need it to do. Try and get one that does photo editing as well as photo management so you get two for one. This is not essential but can be a really useful tool.
  • Tag your photos. You do this using your photo management software. This makes photos easier to find by subject matter. For instance if you want to find all your photos of  Melbourne Cup, all you would do was type Melbourne Cup into your search bar and all photos tagged Melbourne Cup will be located and displayed.
  • When uploading your photos to the pc put them in a named folder straight away.
  • Change the settings on your folder so you can view the images by thumbnails.
  • Delete! I know it’s a scary thought but do you really need that blurry picture of a blue blob? do you really need two photographs that are identical? or do you need four photographs of the same thing, but only one looks good? If not hit delete. There is no need to have them, you wont use them, and they take up space.
  • Name your photos when you upload them to your pc. For big batches try a general title like Europe 2008, for smaller batches try individual titles like Uncle Bubba 90th. Alternatively you could just use the number sequence the camera allocates (but this is where tagging becomes important).
  • Dont forget your phone. Get those pictures of your phone if your phone has those capabilities otherwise you could potentially lose them too!

 Hope this helps you organise your photographs. o you have any tips to share?

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