Eight Travel Essentials that Saved Our Trip with Four Kids
I think we've finally recovered from our cross-country trip to celebrate my Grandmother's 100th birthday. The trip was great, but we were all wiped out after coming home, and it took a few days for everyone to adjust back to west coast time. (Isn't it funny how even a three-hour time change can throw things off?)
The kids were pretty good, all things considered. They had a blast running around on the large, grassy yard outside the spacious South Carolina home we rented. It was so nice to be able to open up the door and let them run around without the worry of a busy street or disturbing any neighbors.
I will admit that I was a bit nervous to board the plane for a 5-hour flight with four kids. We had seats for all six of us and sat in two rows, one in front of the other. I stocked my bag full of surprises to keep the kids occupied on the way out and back. A few of the surprises were set aside immediately, a few provided a necessary distraction, and two were invaluable, capturing my three-year-old girls' attention for 30-plus minutes (this is an eternity in twin preschooler time!).
The first winner was these dollhouse and school scene magnetic playsets. The kids loved to punch out the magnets and place them in the many scenes within the board. I have tried magnetic sets before but they were small and didn't captivate attention quite as well. These large boards had lots of options and held their attention for a blessed 30+ minutes. When they were done, Jack, our seven year old, had fun with them too.
The second winner was the iPad. Just kidding. But not really. We had videos downloaded onto our iPad and they saved us and everyone around us throughout the flight. But the iPad is not the news here. These really cool headphones made the iPad fun and more practical with four kids. The headphones fit the kids' ears well and they interconnect so kids can easily plug in together and watch together. We tested it with all four headsets connected and they worked! The sound does lose integrity from one headset to another, but our kids never complained.
Other airplane essentials that helped:
boxes of Tic Tacs for each of the kids
lollipops for that moment when you just need them to cheer up
open-the-flap book for 19-month-old Sadie
Mad Libs Junior to play with Jack when the girls napped
Once we got to our house, we navigated sleeping arrangements. Three-year-old Rosie and Clara still sleep in cribs (and we don't see that changing until... college?), but this house was stocked with several twin beds, and the idea of hauling three pack and plays was just too much. So, we decided to give the twin beds a go. We bought these inflatable bed rails and used them on the twin beds where the girls slept. Now, I cannot promise that this keeps the kids in bed when they are awake, but it does do a great job of keeping them from falling out of the bed while sleeping. It's easy to inflate and deflate and rolls up pretty small for packing. They were a savior.
Now that we're home and rested, I can reflect on what was a lovely trip. The kids did great on two long travel days and we're encouraged. After a few years of being pretty home-bound, travel just may be in our future again.