Sunday, 31 March 2013

WE WON A HOLIDAY!.....We have to travel with a toddler......

We had discussed going to the Easter Show. Miss Teen and I had been many times, but years before, and she doesn't really remember it. Hubby had NEVER been! Ever! And obviously, neither had Mini Miss. But sadly, on my measly part time income, it wasn't going to be possible.

Then the wonderful Coffs for Kids ran a competition, and against all odds, WE WON!!! When I got the call from Alison I danced around the lounge room as I tried to take in all the details she was giving me!! 

I was excited! In just 3 days we would be heading off on a train trip to Sydney on the Countrylink Explorer and be lucky enough to spend 2 whole days in the city, including a whole day at the SHOW! 

Then reality hit.....a 9 hour train trip with an overactive "can't sit still for 2 mins" toddler. And a sometimes moody teen. And NO internet or phone access.

This sounded like the recipe for a horror movie really.

So what does a mother do when this kind of fear sets in??

She explores the internet for ideas!!! 
(well, thats what this mother does anyhow! I'm sure most mothers wouldn't go up those stairs, or open that door, but me, I'll go charging in regardless, but at least I'll be prepared!)

Surely somewhere, in that wide wide world that is the internet, there had to be some useful, informative information and advise for mothers needing to entertain her kids. 

(insert picture of a wild haired mother typing insanely fast at her keyboard and clicking madly on her mouse!)

Well, you get the idea!

Of course there was LOADS of information. Most of it was for travelling in a car, but easily adaptable. If anything, it is a LOT easier when on the train, as you don't have to concentrate on the road or other cars, or really anyone else but your family. 

Using information from a mix of sites, such as The Activity MomKids Activities BlogBetter In Bulk and Family Food and Travel I formulated my plan of attack, as one does when planning a battle. Yes, thats right, a battle. I was under no illusions that keeping calm on a train for 9 hours with a bored Miss Teen and a hyperactive Mini Miss was a battle in the making!

My Plan looked like this:

Mini Miss REALLY loves STICKERS!!

Yep. A table. With pretty colours. And lots of ideas. Cause that is how I calm myself when panic sets in, lists, particularly in colour. (that's not weird, right?)

Reality was, in the 3 days we had to plan, where I was working everyday, and with the limited funds we had to buy stuff, the activities weren't quite that exciting. I did explore Big W one afternoon after work and scored some clearance bargains, including Dora stickers and a Mickey Mouse activity tin! At Officeworks I picked up some cheap basic shape magnets, some pencils and crayons. 

I even put my craftiness to good use and made up a colouring book of all Mini Miss's favourite characters! 

Our 9 hour train trip was NOT the nightmare nor the horror movie I was expecting. The lovely Countrylink people put us up in a day cabin, which is like a little private room. So Mini Miss could spread out and make mess and move around a bit. We did lots of colouring in, we read stories, and we played games with her little people figurines. We PLAYED pretend with Mini Miss, which we don't much. Mostly though, we talked and laughed and enjoyed being together, no interruptions.

It was actually really, really nice. And relaxing.

My tips for travelling with the family?

1. Keep it Simple. If you aren't driving, you need to entertain your kids, but take the time out to talk to them, play with them, read to them. They do love having your undivided attention!

2. Have their favourite healthy snacks available. It's cheaper and you can guarantee if they won't eat what is available, at least they will eat what you brought for them. 
Mini Miss wouldn't eat anything on board, but we had plenty of fruit, sandwiches, and biscuits and cheese that she was happy to eat.

3. Remember a family holiday, no matter how long or short, is for the whole FAMILY. You count as part of the family!!! Yes, you really do!! YOU COUNT! It's a secret kids have tried to keep for years!
So pack stuff for you as well. Hubby has his camera and had a ball trying out different ways of taking photos while on the move. I had magazines to read. Bring yourself entertainment too!!

4. Plan It. A plan of attack might sound crazy, but if you are prepared, then it gives you an arsenal to avoid meltdowns and disasters and makes for a more relaxed trip.

Have YOU got some tried and tested ways of entertaining the kids on long trips? Please, feel free to share them with me here!!!!

In the meantime, I am off to plan our next family holiday on the train! Or maybe plane....or cruise ship.....

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