Taking children on a long trip, whether by car or by plane, can be a taxing endeavor for everyone. Since nothing helps to pass the time like a nap, I decided to round up some smart ways to calm young travelers and direct them toward dreamland.
For advice, I reached out to the most qualified expert I know—Fern Michonski, an early childhood and music education specialist with over 35 years of experience in the field. Over the course of her career, Fern has run several preschools and her own daycare center. She also has six CDs on the market, including one that was recommended as one of the top picks for kids in the country by USA Today—her Christmas CD, "Kids! Christmas! Fern!" (Full disclosure: she's also my mom and I'm sure the job of raising me and my two brothers was its own sort of education as well).
Here are some of her favorite tips:
1. Pack your children's favorite bedtime toy. Whether it's a blankie, a teddy bear, doll, or something else, having a toy comrade along for the trip will be calming and will make your children more comfortable, which is key to engendering sleep.
2. Tell your children stories while you are driving or flying. I don't mean read a book. Use your imagination and create a story on the spur of the moment. Create an adventure about yourself when you were little, or imagine something exciting that you and your children could do together. Encourage them to add parts to the story. It will keep everyone occupied and the stories you create together might just surprise and fascinate you.
3. Pack a thermos of warm milk and a snack of peanut butter and crackers. Not only do kids love this combination, but the combination of carbohydrates and protein has been shown to promote sleep.
4. Plan on taking your trip after dark. Eat dinner, pack the car, and head out with your children already dressed in their pajamas. Snuggle them up in their car seat and head down the road. Before you know it, your little ones will be blissfully sleeping, right on schedule.
5. Pack your child's favorite bedtime CD. The right music can do wonders to sooth a child. Pack a quiet album that your children know and love and when you see them getting sleepy, hit play—and then sit back and watch them relax.
6. Play the "Who Can Be Quiet the Longest?" game. Bring along a stopwatch and see who can be quiet for the longest period of time. The kids get a kick out of trying to win and frequently they fall asleep while trying to win the game.
What are some tricks you've used to get your children to fall asleep while traveling?