Welcome back to school! For many of you, it has been a big year—time to send your child to prekindergarten. If you live in Denver County, please remember that you should apply to get money towards your child’s prekindergarten tuition. The Denver Preschool Program provides money to all Denver county residents for the prekindergarten year (the year immediately before kindergarten ONLY). It is based on a sliding scale depending on factors such as number of individuals in your household and your household income. If your child isn’t in preschool yet, the Denver Preschool Program is a great resourcec for finding a good preschool in your area. And it isn’t too early to start looking for next fall since many programs fill up quickly or have waitlists. For more information, visit www.dpp.org.
We recently returned from the traditional summer family road trip—a 4000 mile, 18 day, multi-state trip that included 7 nights of tent camping. When I tell people that we embarked upon such an adventure with our young children, many respond that we must be crazy. Well, yes, probably we are. We were also crazy to take Liam to Costa Rica at 8 months and Italy at 20 months. We’ve not only survived our trips, though—we’ve managed to have fun along the way, too!
Traveling with children requires some careful planning as well as some adjusted expectations. Remember that some things are out of your control (like the time Liam came down with strep on the road halfway between Denver and Ohio!). Try to look at traveling from your child’s perspective—while you might love to sit around reading books all day, your child may need a bit more activity. For successful travel with your child, think about these tips:
1. Make your trip an adventure. Create “treasure hunts” along hikes or at a museum.
2. Plan stops around your child’s interests. Our kids LOVE trains, so we try to include visits at various train-themed places (for instance, the Big Boy engine in Cheyenne, the model train layout in Colfax, Iowa, and the Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah). Even small things like watching trains work in a train yard can be the highlight of their day!
3. Remember that you may need to travel at a “kid’s pace.” You may need to stop more often, and you may not drive as many miles as you would on your own. Try to plan in some buffer days in case you need a little extra time.
4. It is okay to have travel rules! For instance, our kids really do not sit around watching DVD’s all the time, but they do see a lot of DVD’s while driving 600 plus miles in a day. Also, bedtime while traveling may not be the same, but they do settle back into a routine once we return home.
5. Have a special “treat bag.” Nothing cures boredom like a new toy or activity. I stock up on some simple things from Target or the dollar store before departing on the road or a plane. When the kids get restless, I pull out a surprise for them.
6. Take balls, Frisbees, or other games to play at rest stops. It’s good to get in a little exercise!
7. If you are flying, allow extra time for security. Be prepared with activities for the plane and the ground as well in case you are stuck in the airport!
8. Avoid the “junk food trap” by packing healthy snacks like carrot sticks or raisins. If you are driving, pack a cooler with sandwiches, fruit, etc.
9. Don’t stress about having the “perfect trip.” Remember that if you are having fun and have a positive attitude, your child probably will, too.
We’ve had our share of bumpy trips. In addition to the infamous strep episode, we’ve endured such things as Liam screaming for three-quarters of the way on the plane from home to Europe (and I do mean SCREAMING!). As stressful as it was at the time, we can laugh about it now. But most importantly, we are already planning and counting down to our next family vacation!