This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop
Any trip with kids requires a certain level of logistical planning: you need to consider snack and napping schedules and remember how long it has been since each child used the bathroom or had a diaper change. Taking multiple kids on a day trip by yourself can sometimes feel like an impossible task. But if you’re a solo parent during a military deployment, then every trip outside the house can really feel like an Olympic sport.
Choose the right location: Almost any trip can be kid-friendly if it’s planned with kids in mind. As a mom of four kids, I have taken my children to a variety of day trip destination. Sometimes we keep it simple by visiting a playground, pool, or bowling alley. Other times we plan a full-day event like the zoo or a museum. When we lived overseas, we even went on historic tours and visited churches and castles with little ones! Think about the locations in your area that you want to share with your kids. If they aren’t used to long car trips, start by looking in your own town, then work up to longer trips. Be realistic about the length of trip and amount of walking your little ones can handle.
Do your research: Learn as much as you can about your destination before you go. What time do they open? Are there military discounts? Do you need tickets in advance? Is there food on site? Are strollers allowed? It’s often wise to call and verify information you see on a website, in case the offer is outdated. Ask your friends with kids about their experiences at that location to get other parent tips. Then visit or call your base ITT office to learn about military discounts.
Strength in numbers: Many hands make light work. When planning a trip to a busy public place like a museum, zoo, or fairground, it’s helpful to bring another adult. They can be an extra set of eyes to watch your kids, or an extra hand to hold in crowds. And it definitely helps to have another adult when you’re making bathroom trips! Ask a few other parents to join you so all the kids have a friend. Don’t forget to invite your child-free friends too! During deployments and long military training, sometimes people without kids feel left out. They often appreciate an invitation, even to a kid-friendly event. If your friends need convincing, you can always offer to drive or pay for their ticket, since they will be helping you all day.
Pack a lunch: And snacks. And juice. Kids don’t do well without food, and day trips seem to turn them into hungry monsters who need more snacks than usual. Even if the location has a café onsite, always bring a bag with juice boxes, sandwiches, fruit, and granola bars. You may end up handing out lunch at 10 AM. For your youngest ones, remember to bring enough bottles, formula, and diapers to get through the day. If you are nursing, either pack a cover-up cloth, or pump out some extra bottles in advance. Nursing moms can find a place to feed the baby almost anywhere. The hardest part is finding a way to safely contain your other kids while nursing the baby. (This is when it helps to travel with another adult). I have nursed in food courts, sitting in front of museum entrances, and even at the petting zoo. Handing out snacks to the older kids is one helpful way to keep them occupied while baby eats.
Taking day trips with your kids while you are the only parent can feel like a daunting experience. But with some pre-planning and help from friends, you can make it work with any number of children so it will be a fun experience for everyone.
By Lizann Lightfoot