How to travel with three children ages 5, 3 and 12months and one adult:
1-MYSTERY JET BAGS
2-MYSTERY SNACK PACKS
4-REQUEST AN ESCORT PASS AT CHECK IN
5-HAVE SOMEONE LEAVE MSG FOR FLIGHT CREW AT THE GATE
6-WEIGH YOUR SUITCASES PRIOR TO LEAVING
7-BUY A PORTABLE DVD PLAYER
8-BRING ONE COLORING BOOK PER CHILD, 4 CRAYONS, and ONE BOOK
9-LEAVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME TO EAT PRIOR TO DEPARTURE
10-BENADRYL or NYQUIL
11-XANAX for person insane enough to trail with three children "alone."
Prior to leaving, if you're heading to a place that has a washer and dryer, and say you're only staying 9 days-pack 3 nights worth of pj's. Pack 4 days worth of outfits (more shorts than shirts especially if you're heading to a location with constant swimming). Mainly because odds are you'll spend the majority of the time outside near the beach or pool, and not all these times your children will be in their suits.
You really don't need to bring many pairs of socks, chances are they'll be wearing them at bedtime if you're in a sunny location, and that's only if you have the type of child that is a sock sleeper. Sandals and socks are not in, so why pack so many things that you wont need? Remember, this is only if you're heading to a location with an onsite washer/dryer.
WHAT TOYS TO PACK? Three types of toys to bring in the mystery plane bag for boys.
The day prior to your trip, pull out your white paper bags and place them in front of your boys. Make sure they're seated at the table, and present them with markers, stickers and crayons. Ask them to decorate their mystery plane bags front and back. This will take up roughly 10minutes of their time which will give you, the insane traveler, time to cross off accomplished tasks on your lists.
When they're done decorating their bags, instruct them to pick the TOP THREE from whatever they may be interested in. If they're into POKEMON, ONE CARD. If they're into CONSTRUCTION, ONE SMALL TRUCK. If they're into BARBIES, ONE BARBIE. This is what I refer to as MY TOP THREE. Advise the children that whatever they pick of whatever their top three is, must fit into the bag that they so nicely decorated.
One hot wheels race car, one superhero, one THOMAS THE TRAIN (depending on if yours were all covered in toxic red lead paint). You'd be surprised at the games you can come up with when you're limited with toys. Plus, the portable DVD player which is a saving grace.
MYSTERY SNACK PACKS!!:
Next, find, borrow, or buy, those little mini packet coolers. Most companies provide them to their employees, or perhaps your local school district, which is where I received ours, via my mom. Have them pick their top three snacks. What works well are those 100 calorie BULK snack packs. HANDI-SNACKS, Fruit snacks, you obviously get the drift here. Have them pack their TOP THREE'S. Have them place their snack packs and mystery bags into their own backpacks.
Make sure they try their backpacks on, and without a doubt, take a walk with them for 10minutes wearing their own backpacks. Even if that means you have to walk around your house in train form for the next 10minutes. This will get them used to the backpack on their back. If they complain once about the weight, you'll know that eventually, within however long you've been on your trainformation walk, that will be the time that they'll turn to you (at the airport) and say, "Carry my bag, mommy. It's too heavy" the practice at home, it will help them learn to not only anticipate the travels ahead, but will teach them to be smart packers. After they (if they do!!) complain, then ask them to remove one of their items with something less heavy. (Suddenly you have a math lesson in weight/mass).
On your own, place one sheet of stickers (unknown to them) or a stamper, and an extra bag of snack pack food (Chocolate not recommended at anytime). Place one coloring book and those four crayons into their backpack. Do not let your children see you placing these items into their their respected bags. When they begin to unload their backbag at the airport or onboard the jet, after boarding, they'll know understand why you called these self decorated bags mystery jet bags.
Now you'll have answered their, oh, only asked 20x's question, "Mommy, why is this a mystery jet bag if I know what's in it?"
Traveling with children is an education in itself.
Welcome to crusty beef
This is part I of many more posts regarding TRIPPING OVER TIPS. I can't be away from this writing thing.