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Blog


This blog is about life with a baby. It's not always what you expect and there is definitely no job description. Every baby is different and unique which is why motherhood can be so scary, fun, terrifying, exciting, and rewarding all at the same time.

Be sure to also check out our Travel Blog where you can share and read stories about travelling with the family.


We encourage you to share your experiences - by sharing your experiences and commenting on other posts, you may be helping other moms.


  • Wednesday, May 01, 2019 9:33 AM | Claire (Administrator)

    ISSUE : Maternal depression is a significant risk factor affecting the healthy development of babies, children and youth.

    The relationship between maternal mental health and child health outcomes is well documented and research is continually demonstrating the importance of early detection and treatment of maternal mental illness in early childhood developments1,2,3. Maternal depression can impair the maternal/child bond and result in delayed physical, social and cognitive development with long term implications for physical and mental wellbeing and related health outcomes2,3,4. Mothers who are struggling with their own mental health concerns may find interaction with their child in this capacity more difficult and thus delay or impair this vital component of early brain development.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal mental health as “a state of well-being in which a mother realizes her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her community”2. When confronted with mental illness, many women are unable to function in a way that allows them to contribute at a level that is consistent with WHO definitions. Maternal depression is the second leading cause of disability among women globally2 and estimates suggest that up to one in five women will struggle with a mental health complication during the perinatal period.


    It may surprise you to learn that:

    ● It is estimated that up to one in five perinatal women will suffer from a maternal mental illness. This prevalence makes mental illness the most common complication of the perinatal period, and a significant public health concern.

    ● Not only are women affected by poor mental health but impacts are felt directly by their partners, family, friends and community. When left untreated, mental illness can have a direct impact on early childhood development outcomes.

    ● Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), of which parental depression is one, can result in high levels of toxic stress on a child’s developing brain that can result in a greater likelihood of poor mental and physical health outcomes later in life5.

    BACKGROUND

    Many mothers experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. In 2017, a study in the Canadian Medical association journal looked at suicide among new mothers and found that 1 in 19 maternal deaths in Ontario is attributed to suicide6,7. Making suicide the fourth leading cause of death for perinatal women in Canada7. 1 in 19!!!

    Because of stigma and leaving the onus on the mothers to reach out for help, only 15% of mothers who experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD) receive professional treatment 8. Some countries, such as the UK, Australia, USA, all have a Maternal Mental Health Strategy & screening program in place. Canada instead leaves the responsibility on new mothers to reach out for help. They may not know to reach out for help if they do not know they are experiencing a PMAD, or they may be afraid of the stigma associated with a PMAD.

    If we want to support children and youth, we must start with mothers and ensure that they are healthy. When moms thrive, babies thrive. If we want to turn the tide on some of our biggest challenges with children and youth we need to focus on preventing them by having a strategy for supporting Canadian mothers and increase maternal mental health.

    CONSIDERATIONS

    Based on research, current trends, and new knowledge, we need to act now and put a plan in place to screen mothers for PMADs to prevent the loss of life, lessen the effect on children and youth, and decrease the high economical costs for something that can be prevented by early detection, and simple interventions. We need a plan in place to identify the mothers who are at risk and get them into treatment whether that is peer based support groups, medication, counselling, or hospitalization.

    Consider this:

    • Maternal depression and anxiety is a stronger risk factor for child behavioral problems than smoking, binge drinking, and emotional or physical domestic abuse9.

    • More women will suffer PMAD than there are new cases of breast cancer diagnosed annually 10.

    • More women will suffer from Postpartum Anxiety and Depression in a year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of Tuberculosis, Leukemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Lupus, and Epilepsy.

    • Depression during pregnancy and the immediate postpartum period is the most concerning time and has the biggest effect on the developing brain5.

    •  It has been estimated that the cost for untreated mother/child unit is up to $150,000 with 72% of the cost allocated to the child11

    • It is estimated 85% of mothers do not receive treatment, so the economic cost to Canada is approximately $11 billion dollars. This can be reduced to approximately $5,000 if we screen and treat.

    This is an excerpt from the brief presented at the Great Canadian Health Care Debate at the National Health Leaders Conference, June 2018. See the full brief here.  

    REFERENCES

    1. Evans, J., Melotti, R., Heron, J., Ramchandani, P., Wiles, N., Murray, L. and Stein, A. (2011). The timing of maternal depressive symptoms and child cognitive development: a longitudinal study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(6), pp.632-640.

    2. Rahman, A., Surkan, P., Cayetano, C., Rwagatare, P. and Dickson, K. (2013). Grand Challenges: Integrating Maternal Mental Health into Maternal and Child Health Programmes. PLoS Medicine, 10(5), p. e1001442.

    3. Sohr-Preston, S.and Scaramella, L. (2006). Implications of Timing of Maternal Depressive Symptoms for Early Cognitive and Language Development. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 9(1), pp.65-83.

    4. Jones, C., Jomeen, J. and Hayter, M. (2014). The impact of peer support in the context of perinatal mental illness: A meta-ethnography. Midwifery, 30(5), pp.491-498.

    5. Lebel, C., Walton, M., Letourneau, N., Giesbrecht, G., Kaplan, B. and Dewey, D. (2016). Prepartum and Postpartum Maternal Depressive Symptoms Are Related to Children’s Brain Structure in Preschool. Biological Psychiatry, 80(11), pp.859-868.

    6. Nasser, S. (2017) 1 in 19: New study shines light on reality of suicide among new Ontario moms, moms-to-be. CBC news. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mothers-suicide-ontario-study-1.4267417

    7. Grigoriadis, S., Wilton, A. S., Kurdyak, P. A., Rhodes, A. E., VonderPorten, E. H., Levitt, A., … Vigod, S. N. (2017). Perinatal suicide in Ontario, Canada: a 15-year population-based study. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal de l’Association Medicale

    8.  Patterns of Depression and Treatment in Pregnant and Postpartum Women Angela Bowen, RN, PhD1 ; Rudy Bowen, MD, CM, FRCP2 ; Peter Butt, MD, CCFP3 ; Kazi Rahman, MBBS, MS (PhD Candidate)4 ; Nazeem Muhajarine, PhD5, 2012

    9. Knitzer, J., Theberge, S., & Johnson, K. (2008). Reducing Maternal Depression and Its Impact on Young Children. Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_791.pdf

    10. Stone, K. (2010). How Many Women Get Postpartum Depression? The Statistics on PPD | POSTPARTUM PROGRESS. Retrieved May 17, 2018, from http://www.postpartumprogress.com/how-many-women-get-postpartum-depression-the-statistics-on-ppd

    11. Bauer, A., Parsonage, M., Knapp, M., Iemmi, V., Adelaja, B., & Hogg, S. (2014). The costs of perinatal mental health problems. Centre for Mental Health. /doi.org/10.13140/2.1.4731.61


  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 5:04 PM | Julie (Administrator)

    Sometimes the best road trip adventures are those planned as an afterthought. Our family was en route to Lake Placid for a pre-thanksgiving adventure with another family. As any good road tripper knows a midway stop is a must. Not only to refuel, recharge and stretch but to also expand the adventure.  We decided to stop at the midway point and explore Brockville. Our plan was a quick bite to eat and a walk at the waterfront. What should have been an hour stop turned into three hours of exceptional tourist time!

    A 3-hour drive from our home in Stouffville, Brockville is one of the oldest communities in Ontario and sits quaintly on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands Region of Eastern Ontario. The beautiful limestone buildings, waterfront vantage points, and immense charm encouraged us to stay longer and to regret not having more time to explore.

    We started our adventure with a walk along the harbor and onto Blockhouse Island. The harbor had several yachts that looked like tall ships which pleased our kids, I mean what kid doesn't love a boat.  Jutting out onto the St. Lawrence River the island had walking/biking trails, a beautiful fenced in playground, a cafe, well-maintained restrooms and large Muskoka chairs which were an excellent backdrop for the perfect tourist photo.  Every angle was a gorgeous view of the St. Lawrence or upstate New York to the south. The sunny but cold weather certainly helped illuminate the beauty all around us.

    From Blockhouse Island we walked over to Canada's first railway tunnel. Renovated and repurposed as a tourist destination and part of Brockville's trail system the tunnel incorporates a fully programmable LED system. The tunnel comes to life with music and lights creating an intoxicating visual history of the tunnel and its importance to Canadian History. Mineral deposits, ground waterfalls, and original hatches and construction details are present. The kids loved the colors, the music and of course the sound of a train whistle in the background. The tunnel was interesting for us adults as well. The height and expanse of it, the historical plaques that allow you to gain a deeper appreciation and of course the lights and music were pretty cool too! Who doesn't love a good tragically hip tune?

    img-1679.jpgIMG-4075.jpg

    The tunnel pops you out uphill from the waterfront, and again the views of the waterway, city hall and the harbor are stunning. We walked downhill towards the main street. There was a great selection of shops and restaurants. Feeling hungry and ready for a rest we opted for The Union Jack Pub. The reviews stated it was kid friendly with home cooked food and a local watering hole. Check, Check and Check. The interior while modest and in keeping with its name was comfortable and had plenty of space for our group of 10, strollers included. The service was excellent and best of all KIDS ATE FREE! And it was a very generous meal with a drink included. Our meals were delicious and the price point perfect. It was nice to support a local business and for that business to accommodate a large group, including 6 kids which are never an easy task and with no reservation.

    IMG-1691

    With full bellies and great memories, we loaded back into our vehicles to continue on our way. Of course with a mental note to return again and stay longer.

    Brockville was a delightful surprise, and her shores sure were gorgeous.

    It was suggested that when we return, we should experience the Aquatarium, cruise the 1000 islands by boat, explore Hardy park and return to the harbor area for some more delicious food and hopefully see a tall ship! 


  • Monday, April 15, 2019 8:42 AM | Claire (Administrator)

    We are thrilled to be supporting the Funtastical fundraiser for SickKids Foundation. We hope to see lots of Life With A Baby families at the event. The line-up of entertainment is incredible and there will be lots to do. Plus it's indoors!!! You don't have to worry about the weather. We have special LWAB rates for up to 4 and up to 6 people. https://www.funtastical.ca/ Join us for this amazing family event and make a difference in the lives of sick children.

    Up to 4 people use this link! 4 tickets for just $30

    https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/funtastical-family-event-in-support-of-sickkids-hospital-tickets-54680740567?discount=lifewithbaby4for30 

    Up to 6 people use this link! 6 Tickets for just $40

    https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/funtastical-family-event-in-support-of-sickkids-hospital-tickets-54680740567?discount=lifewithbaby6for40 



  • Sunday, April 14, 2019 8:47 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    Life with Baby Exclusive - This full weekend is designed by women, for women to help you unwind, leave stress behind and focus on calm!

    Immerse yourself in a cozy & natural cottage setting located only 2 hours from Toronto with roaring indoor and outdoor fires, crisp country air and like-minded women seeking a break from

    the chaos. This weekend is all about escaping life's ups and downs and preparing yourself with self-care, self-love and self-awareness.

    The weekend includes 2 cozy side by side cottages (shared and select single accommodations available), all healthy meals and snacks, including one chef catered dinner, yoga and meditation,

    nature walks, exercise, life coaching workshops, health focused seminars with essential oils (covering mood, sleep, fears, confidence, etc.), DIY's to take home and special swag bags. ~~~

    Group: 16 women - 3 single spots available (single bed but room is shared), all others are double or quad occupancy (shared beds so grab a friend and cuddle up!)

    Please Etransfer to save your spot:theoilgirls@strattco.com

    $275 - Early bird - if booked April or $300 - Regular fee - if booked in May

    Get updates through our Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/2171576163156771/


  • Sunday, April 14, 2019 8:36 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    Summer Camp promo for Life With A Baby members - $719 + HST

    Your Kids Of Canada North Entire Overnight Camp Experience Includes:

    * All Meals, Accommodations, Transportation & Baggage, Laundry, Snacks.

    * A 3:1 Camper: Staff Ratio which provides each camper with lots of personal attention.

    * All staff are Police Screened and are Certified in First-Aid & CPR or NLS Life Guard Certified.

    * Interactive Cabin Groups, Camper-Choice Programming, Friendships & Memories and much much more!

    * Weekly Themes & Spirit Days in addition to our daily Levels, Focus and Performance Periods. These types of programs provide our campers with the opportunity to choose their desired area of fun, development and improvement throughout their weekly stay at camp. And, let’s not forget all of the traditional cabin group activities that campers will do with their Bunkmates!

    * All Overnight Camp Sessions are a 1 Week Stay, 7 days and 7 nights, campers may extend their stay at any time!

    * A huge variety of Sports, Recreation, Leisure and Camp programming including Inflatable Water Park, Canoeing, Kayaking, Swimming, Pedal Boats, Stand-Up Paddle Boards, Hiking, Orienteering, Nature Programming,

    Campfires, Video & Photography, Fishing, Arts & Crafts, Drama, Dance, Music, Landsports, Soccer, Basketball, Baseball, Beach Volleyball, Culinary Creations, Ball Hockey, And much much more!!!

    * SAFETY is #1! Our lifejacket policy requires that all campers & CIT’s wear a life jacket during all water activities.

    Contact:

    Cory Shiner

    Camp Director

    Kids Of Canada Summer Camps

    Kids Of Canada North Overnight Camp

    416-891-4(FUN) 4386

    www.kidsofcanada.com

    info@kidsofcanada.com

    coryshiner@rogers.com


  • Saturday, April 13, 2019 12:20 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    Happy Nannies Canada facilitates the immigration of Filipino nannies into Canada so families can live more enriched lives. Our nannies and elderly caregivers are trusted and trained. Part-time or full-time nanny, live-in nanny or live-out, Happy Nannies Canada will find the perfect fit for your family's needs.


    Employing your own nanny is a cost efficient way to ensure your child gets one on one dedicated attention, eats a balance diet, is well cared for and has all their personal needs met in the comfort and safety of your home.


    We match families with nannies from the Philippines through Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Our nannies receive extensive training and are highly qualified.

    What Makes Us Different?


    We truly believe that happy nannies equal happy families.

    Service and support continues even after your nanny arrives at your door, to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for your family. Our goal is for families to establish likeability and trust early in the relationship.


    Happy Nannies Canada supports both families and nannies. Our heart-centred approach helps our Filipino nannies smoothly integrate into Canadian culture. We provide our nannies with ongoing support and opportunities to socialize outside of work. This helps them feel a sense of belonging and satisfaction in their new lives away from home.

    As expert immigration consultants, we navigate government programs and process applications on your behalf, making the process of hiring nannies from the Philippines simple for you.

     

    Exclusive for Life with a Baby members only. You get a $500 discount when you get a Happy Nanny from Happy Nannies Canada. 


    For a limited time only. 

    Valid until July 31, 2019

    Call/email us now to avail of this discount.

    Email: ask@happynanniescanada.ca

    Website: www.happynanniescanada.ca

    Phone: 647-874-8586



  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 3:18 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    We are very excited about our Moms night out Pre-Mother's Day Comedy Show & Dinner.  Dress up in whatever makes you feel fabulous and join us for an evening of fun and laughter. 




    Join us for a memorable night out with dinner and a show with comedian, Kate Davis at the Thornhill Golf & Country Club.

    Limited spots are available! Grab your girlfriends and get a table for a special rate.

    Do you have a small business? Have something that would be a good fit to share with moms? Register for the Business Mama rate which includes a table and dinner. 

    REGISTER AT A Night Out : Pre-Mother's Day Comedy Show & Dinner


    About Kate Davis



    A speaker, writer, comedian, actress and mother of three, Kate Davis has the unique ability to find humour in any situation.

    Theatrically trained in England, Kate returned to Canada to a successful run on Canadian stage and through the many stages of motherhood found a passion in comedy.

    A five-time nominee at the Canadian Comedy Awards and star of her own hour-long comedy special on CTV and the Comedy Network, Kate has appeared on Breakfast Television, Star TV, Toronto 1, Prime, WTN, TVO, CBC Radio One “The Debaters” and The Mom Show.

    Through a reinventive outlook, Kate created successful parenting with humour workshops. These have transformed to the full range of presentations, exploring the positive effects humour on life. From the corporate world to the bedtime story, Kate’s insight and vision reveals the healing thread of humour.   https://katedavis.ca/keynote-speaker-katedavis/bio/

    Pricing
    $65/person or $500/table of 10
    Business Mamas:
    $100 includes display table (bring your own)
    $150 includes display table (we provide)

    REGISTER AT A Night Out : Pre-Mother's Day Comedy Show & Dinner


  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 2:59 PM | Claire (Administrator)

    We've been getting requests for more weekend events and we are happy to have some upcoming events on the weekends that the whole family can enjoy!  There are events across various areas. We hope you can join the event in your area. 


    On Saturday, March 30th, we'll be celebrating 11 years of Life With A Baby Programming. We have two featured events at just $10/per person for the whole family to enjoy.  

    First, at 11am, we have a family dance party with Monkey Rock Music! Kids under 1 are free.

     This event is perfect for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  Get your dancing shoes on and join us for the ultimate family dance party with Monkey Rock Music.

    Register & Learn more at https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3318810



    Then, at 1:30pm we have a family magic & Illusion show with Magic Dan. We are very very excited to be bring Magic Dan out for a special LWAB event.  This March it's 11 years of LWAB programming and we'd love to celebrate with you! 

    You'll see a child LEVITATES in mid-air!!! (will it be yours?)

    Dan will magically make a table fly around the room and much more!!!

    Just $10/Per ticket.  This event is appropriate for children 3 and up (Kids under 2 are free)
    Register & learn more at https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3306412



    Join us in Toronto on Sunday March 31st for a Toddler Time at SkyZone 


    Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. A time for your little ones to discover the joy of being active, bouncing under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids.

    9-10 am Jumping

    10-11am Snacks are provided,(juice, cookies, fruit platter, yogurt) but you are welcome to bring your own. 

    Register & Learn more at https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3306492


    On Saturday, April 6th, we have our annual mom to mom sale & Fun Day. This is a free event. Register and learn more here https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3213926




    On Sunday, April 21st in Vaughan, we are hosting the Spring Fling & Easter Brunch. Limited spots. Register and learn more at  https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3260558



    Also, on Sunday, April 21st in Newmarket we are hosting an Easter Brunch. Register and learn more about the Newmarket event at  https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3167715



    Join us in Aurora on Saturday, April 27th for a Music & Movement Class (Fee for kids only, adults are free). Register & Learn more at  https://www.lifewithababy.com/event-3303404



    We hope to see you sat our weekend events.

    LWAB Team


  • Thursday, February 21, 2019 10:57 PM | Cassandra (Administrator)

    I am a stay at home mom and have been for a little more than 6 years now. Love my kids (boys aged 6, 4 and 2), really do, but I have to admit that I have been feeling the pull to get away for some quiet time for a while now. I follow a few spa resorts on Facebook because a girl can dream right? And then the best thing happened – Grail Springs Wellness Retreat popped up in my newsfeed with a “Bring A Friend For FREE” special. As luck would have it I convinced my mother that we needed a mother-daughter weekend away so she booked herself a room for 2 nights and I got to tag along completely FREE to renew my sense of sanity away from the little people.

    I even booked a few spa treatments for the Saturday of our stay and told the hubby that was my “Christmas present” so he was off the hook. I’ll admit I was a little anxious about leaving my boys, having never been away for more than a night, but I also knew that my husband was more than capable of holding down the fort so I could take off. We left on Friday morning for the 3 hour drive to Bancroft in hopes of arriving in time for lunch and, although it was super snowy, the drive was beautiful!


    When we walked into Grail Springs it was like walking into a little castle and I was struck by how quiet and serene it was. Although our room wasn’t ready yet, because we arrived before check in, the staff were so friendly and allowed us to keep our things behind the front desk until things were ready. After our tour we settled into the Great Room to relax until lunch was ready and it was so beautiful, so peaceful and comfy, that I fell asleep almost instantly snuggled up on the huge couch with a cozy blanket wrapped around me. We then had lunch in the intimate dining room – this is not a huge resort, I think I counted just 24 seats in the room. I’ll preface with this; I am not a healthy eater. I am a vegetarian and have been for many years now but I’ll admit I’m more of a “junk food vegetarian” than one that eats a lot of veggies and good stuff. I wasn’t sure how I would like the vegan meals – which are not selected by you, each meal is planned in advance and everyone gets the same thing (minus adjustments for allergies of course). I cannot even adequately describe how good that first lunch was. It was served with an herbal tea (again, not usually a fan) that was refreshing and delicious and I cleaned my plate of my salad and falafel wrap.

    After lunch we had a “bonding ceremony for two” that, truthfully, was strange and awkward but oddly enough left me emotional and thanking my mom for the role that she plays in my kid’s lives and my own. Having not had at all a great relationship growing up, this was kinda huge for me and felt like a good “opening” for the weekend. Then we had free time to check out the hot tub which overlooks the lake and I had no idea how gorgeous Bancroft is in winter. Fluffy snow sitting on all the trees, the view was spectacular and again just peacefully quiet while soaking away our troubles in the tub!


    The days at Grail Springs are somewhat scheduled but it’s up to the individual what you’d like to participate in and what’s not for you. In the evenings there was motivational speaking and meditation, the mornings had snowshoe hikes through the incredible acreage that’s all part of Grail Springs followed by yoga. And then throughout the day (depending on what you’ve booked) your spa treatments are scheduled in too. I decided to try something different for my treatments so I booked a Colour Therapy Bath with Reiki, a CranioSacral Therapy and also an RMT massage. There were honestly so many choices for different spa treatments that I wanted to choose one of everything just to experience them all BUT the time (and obviously budget) didn't allow for that!


    So clearly this was an incredibly relaxing weekend away and I highly HIGHLY recommend putting this one on your bucket list. From the moment we arrived until we sadly had to leave everything was taken care of. My body felt completely re-energized after a weekend of truly taking care of it with exercise, pampering and amazing food. My favourite part of the weekend was the food – I can’t say enough good things about each and every meal. I can still taste those incredible flavours and, although I generally crave nothing but sweets, I seriously CRAVE those healthy vegan meals still, several months later!

    One day I plan on dragging my husband along for a weekend away because although yoga and meditation is not his thing – massages and out of this world food is definitely something he would enjoy too! Maybe I can convince him that this would be a great anniversary trip…

    -Cassandra


  • Saturday, February 09, 2019 3:05 PM | Julie (Administrator)

    Chapter 1 - Why and How To Road Trip

    Travel is an important aspect of my life. In my single years I kept a change jar on the ready for whatever crazy plans my friends and I would make. Whether an all-inclusive we couldn’t afford or a jump in the car and return Sunday sun kissed and weary road trip. In our dating years I think my husband used travel to woo me and I used it to show how adventurous I could be. From ski weekends to camping, wine tours or Mexican getaways, the excitement of packing up and trying new things was thrilling. We learned more about each other in those miles travelled then any expensive dinner at a restaurant whose name we would never remember. As life changed (insert 3 kids, a dog, a mortgage and more responsibilities then passport stamps) we adapted our travel dreams to match reality. How do we keep the wanderlust alive when our budget is meager?  How do we explore without plane tickets? We load into our minivan and hit the road. Sometimes the destination is more theme park hotel versus remote rugged landscape but we see value in adventures with our kids and the memories we create instead of checking off bucket list items.

    7 years of road trips with1, then 2 and now 3 children means we have compiled a ton of information that make our trips faster to prepare for, more affordable and further distance. We have made mistakes (do not park next to a cow field to nurse your baby!) but our kids are more resilient and we have all learned to adapt and be flexible.

     Roadtrip 2017 Florida

    Here are our tips to prepare for your family road trip.

    #1 Manage Your Expectations

    Each trip you take, every mile you drive will not be the same. You might experience the Mecca of road trips, the one that all tripping families long for.  The elusive road trip where children are happy, quiet and occupy their time with books and magazines, coloring and car games. Full of perfect family selfies and every member will smile with joy at each new experience you tirelessly planned.  You will return rested and euphoric that you plan your next trip just weeks later, but this time further away, why not? Then you have the most common of road trips. Tantrum filled, garbage everywhere, “I’m bored” sung at the top of lungs, fast food and video game fuelled miles of family fun. This trip while not as restful or perfect will still amount to great family adventure its just wrapped up and packaged with crazy enroute. Both trips bring about closeness and new experiences but your expectation level will determine what you take away from the trip. You have to be ok with rain, forgotten items, getting lost and sick kids the same way you are ok with sunsets, picnics and late check outs. A roll with the punches type attitude at all times.

    #2 Pack For Anything

    The beauty of travelling in your car, van, truck or RV is not having luggage limits and weight restrictions. You can bring whatever your little ones require for their sanity and yours without having to make sacrifices. Personally I love to pack with a level of organization and thoughtfulness that borders on obsessive. “Everything has a home and everything in its home” is my motto. I prep our trips with lists and an idea of what each person will require for any of the activities planned and their regular daily living needs all according to the weather conditions that might apply. Categories like; hygiene, medicinal/first Aid, sleeping, bathing/swimming, clothing, outerwear, eating in/out, toileting, car activities and hotel/rental/outdoor activities. Of course this is all dependent on your destination. Packing for camping, for example, requires cooking materials, tents etc. With three kids there have been many trips where baby seats, playpens, jumparoos and nursing pillows were part of the list. There are no limits. My packing materials are a variety of vessels purchased or recycled over the years. I love Thirty31 Gifts - Utility totes in large and medium for loose items like beach supplies, oversized outerwear, food and even baby gear. They have a line of pouches that I use for packing snacks, storing all of our medicinal/First Aid needs and for smaller trips I have packed all our hygiene supplies in one. Costco has a great line of foldable crates that stack nicely and hold a ton. Reusable shopping bags are great for kids to carry their car activities or the variety of electronics and cords that come on most road trips.  We mostly pack our clothing in canvas duffel bags that are flexible and easy to over stuff and stack on top of one another in the van. I am not a fan of backpacks for the kids. They never seem to carry them and they are a pain to carry in bundles as an adult. The items never go back in the same way, the zipper is annoying to open and close and they get muddy/wet/food stained etc. I always pack a separate adult bag for the car. It contains our maps and travel book (we geek out and track mileage, timing and spending to see how we compare to previous trips, I know, I know insert face palm here) phone chargers, books, headphones for podcasts, first aid kit, pens, an envelope with some emergency money, camera, paper towel, Lysol wipes, empty shopping bags for garbage, gravol and gum. 

    #3 Make A Plan

    Trust me! I know it doesn’t sound like the spontaneous adventure you saw on those adorable car commercials. But you will thank me later.  Planning ahead doesn’t just mean booking an AirBnB or hotel at your destination. It means plan for the drive by looking into the rest areas, tourism, restaurant and gas options and a printed map with directions along the way. Look at your total travel time to the destination and then calculate the stops you will require and add that to your total travel time. For example for our drive to Lake Placid the driving time was estimated at 5hrs 46mins. With a departure time of 7am, a meal/gas stop and a planned 2hr tourism stop plus the border crossing it translated into an 8.5hr day.  Knowing the estimated travel time, where and what we want to do on the way makes it more enjoyable and less frantic.

    If you only remember one thing make it this; Trying to find a hotel that will take more then 4 people with a reasonable nightly rate is difficult if you don’t do it in advance. Hotels charge premium rates for larger families and most often never have a sale or deal when you arrive. There are often limited rooms to handle more then 4 people as well. Trust me! 2 hours of night driving with three crying kids around North Carolina just to find a room for the night taught us a serious lesson.

     Splurge lunch enroute

    #3 Set a Budget

    Road Trips can be as cost saving or luxury as you make them. You can choose between gorgeous hotels, resorts, AirBnB’s, fancy places to eat or fast food chains, snacks you pack or snacks you buy on the road. Decide at the planning stage what you want to spend and make it happen. Take into account currency exchange, travel insurance, oil changes, tolls, gas, fluids, food, car activities, long distance and data usage, lodging, activities, impromptu purchases if you forgot, lost or had an emergency and of course souvenirs!

    #4 Plan Car Entertainment For Kids

    You might think an ipad and some movies will do it. For short distances (under 4 hrs) it might. But kids get bored, motion sick, anxious or just annoying (are we there yet?) because they’re as excited as you are, if not more. We have tried a variety of things depending on the ages and stages of our kids.

    Babies – puppets, blocks, flashlights, music, rattles, car/stroller toys, snacks, pacifiers, cause and effect toys, tissue paper for crinkling, bubble wrap for squeezing, rain sticks and time out bottles.

    Toddler/Preschool – any of the items in the baby sections plus touch and feel/pop up/busy books, glow sticks, stickers and paper, crayons and paper, bubbles (not as messy as you think), Melissa & Doug paint papers, aqua doodle, magnet boards, puppet making, post it notes, play doh, felt boards and pieces

    Kindergarten –this stage was about showing them how much time remained. I picked up toys or trinkets from the dollar store or the loot bag section of Mastermind toys based on my kids interests and had them individually wrapped. They got one every few hours. Or make a linking chain for each hour of the drive and every hour you take one of the links off. Kids love when they fall asleep and wake up to remove 3 chains. Also Ipads, books, books on tape, movies, glow sticks, coloring, with special markers, card games, car games like I spy/car bingo/I’m going camping etc.

     

    Stay tuned for  tips, guides and information specific to family friendly road trip destinations.

    Cheers,

    Julie


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