Anyone who's ever gone away with kids knows it's not for the weak. With mom's own mental health as the priority here, I've compiled a few ideas to help things run more smoothly.

Prepare for the worst but have a sense of humor

Kids are kids. At some point, someone’s melting down. It’s just a matter of when and to what decibel. I always enter into our trips with the mindset of letting go and just being adaptable because I know we’re going to have touchy moments. Approach the entire experience with a “this will make for good stories later” attitude, and it will be more fun. That being said, I admit I overly prepare in order to adopt this mentality. On a normal day, I try to keep the kids within reasonable boundaries. When we travel, the usual rules get loosened up big time. Travel Kristen is a cool mom. If we’re on the final hour of our roadtrip and the baby’s losing her mind, I will so let her binge watch Super Why and won’t think twice about it. When my older girls were babies, I traveled all the time by myself with them to visit family, friends or for different events. I learned so much from throwing myself into that challenge, now with Harlow, I feel like I have things somewhat figured out. Something I learned the hard way was to overpack things like activities, snacks, cleaning supplies and change of clothes. The one time you don’t have an alternate outfit in the diaper bag is the time your baby has a blowout up her back. Nowadays, we have to be hyper cautious about things we never had to think about before. There’s really no such thing as too many disinfecting wipes or bottles of hand sanitizer. Anything that gives you more peace of mind, bring it. If it makes you feel safer or more comfortable, throw it in your bag. Kids vibe off of us, so if mom’s relaxed, they’ll mirror that energy.

New Swag

Target $1 section. All. Day. Long.

I swear, this is the secret to happy kids on long travel days. New toys they’ve never played with before and fresh activities will make for a more manageable experience. Trust. I’ve been known to bring things like those surprise sponge animals that emerge from a capsule when you get them wet. Remember those?! My oldest, Kaela would spend the length of the flight from Denver to Ft. Lauderdale blissfully dunking those in water and putting temporary tattoos on herself. A toddler with a full sleeve is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, on 4 hour flights. Hit up the dollar section and load up on sticker books, toys and crafts…but keep them hidden until you really need them and only pull one out at a time. Make em work for it ;) No shame in gifting the kids new headphones or anything that will keep them quiet and non-violent some of the time.

Let the kids take the wheel, a little

Whether it comes to cooking, fitness or any lifestyle things we do as a family, I try to get my kids invested by involving them. I’ve found with my older girls, if they’re part of the process, they’re more interested and almost always have a good attitude about it. I let Kaela and Kendall help plan parts of our trips or at least weigh in on some of the things they would like to do. I have them explore the hotel sites in advance and research the destination to come up with their own mock itineraries. From there, I figure out logistics and see how we can work their ideas in. The girls also don’t like to be left in the dark on the plans so as best as I can, I try to communicate details. I gifted them their own planners to fill in plans with rainbow gel pens and stickers – full on Lisa Frank vibes. When you have little little ones, this obviously doesn’t apply, but the older kids love it.

Currently on the road driving to Denver today! No backseat meltdowns yet...pray for us. Are you headed anywhere fun this summer? Message or tag me with your travel plans and tips @kristenmariasrd on insta.

Xo, Kristen