Oh. Two year olds don’t have a “back to school” to prepare for? Crap. I think we missed the memo because we already bought all the supplies, got new backpacks, and took the obligatory but adorable back to school pictures with the sign on the patio. Just kidding, we literally did none of those things because we know that two year olds don’t have a first day! Though, I will say this, our daycare has a clear difference between summer activities and school activities so our little ones can feel like big kids and go “back to school” with the school aged children. It’s really sweet, actually.
Since we don’t have an official back of school day or anything similar to prepare for, we kind of make our own celebration to note the changing of seasons. As most of our readers know, we fly on standby a TON and there is no better time to travel than in the first few weeks of school because most families are done with vacations. But not us. This is our time to shine. We call it our Back to School (Trip).
The Back to School (Trip)
This is a special trip we take each fall, generally around Labor Day since we already get a day off. And while most people are settling into their new routines, they aren’t exactly traveling anywhere. This tradition started WAY before having kids for us. We used to go to Cancún every fall after we graduated college to our favorite all-inclusive resorts as a way off saying “Yup, we’re done with school. We can do what we want!” And with Olivia in the picture and still not of school age, we’ve decided to continue the Back to School (Trip) tradition.
Traveling with a Toddler
Fewer things are less predictable than traveling with a toddler. Add to that an unpredictable destination and itinerary: the only thing predictable is a meltdown of epic proportions. Luckily, our Back to School (Trip) planner has this accounted for. So here it is: our top ways to keep your toddler entertained, happy, and overall a treat to be around when you have a long travel day.
One Hour = One Activity
This is our general rule of thumb. For each hour of travel time (airport included), be prepared with one activity. Now, we use the term “activity” loosely. This can be anything from a sticker book to a tiny stuffed toy to an apple sauce pouch. Whatever it is, it’s gotta get your toddler excited for a few minutes at least. Getting something shiny and new on a regular basis will keep them occupied and content.
Encourage (but don’t Expect) a Nap
Ya, ya. We’ll take some heat from this one. It’s certainly best to keep to the routine if you can. But it’s been our experience that the routine falls flat on its face when you introduce new surroundings and activities. Olivia has a strong fear of missing out and it is kicked into high gear when we’re out and about. We definitely encourage her to nap, even bringing out DockATot with us, but we don’t force the issue. She’ll sleep when she’s tired and we’ll deal with it as we have to. Of course, you know your kids the best, so your results may vary.
Avoid Long Layovers
Or have a plan if you can’t avoid it! We have several go-to games and locations that we keep up our sleeves. The scavenger hunt is ALWAYS a hit. So is looking for the biggest plane in the terminal. And if we can find a terminal playground, that’s even better! Tons of airports have them, from big guys like O’hare to little ones like Akron/Canton!
Books and Backpacks
And there you have it: full circle with the Back to School (Trip)! We ALWAYS pack a backpack of goodies, including new books to keep our toddler entertained. This is her special travel backpack that she only gets when we’re on the road, so it’s super special. Plus, she loves to read, even though she can’t read at all. She pretends and tries, that’s all that matters. That’s why we’re basically in love with the Story Box. Each month, two books that are age appropriate show up on your doorstep with a parents guide on how to best interact with the book. It’s fantastic! There’s always something fresh and new (remember the hourly activity thing?) to pique Olivia’s interest.
The books (board books for tiny tots and picture books for big kids over 2.5) and parental guides are meant to help foster a love of reading and enhance pre-literacy skills like language and speech. It’s really the best of both worlds: entertainment and learning. Kids learn the best through play, so it really is kind of like we’re going back to school!
Back to School Giveaway!
To celebrate this wonderful time of the year, we’re giving away a free month of the Story Box! Just enter the giveaway below for your chance to win.