Assalamulikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatuhu,
Incase some of you are wondering, where on earth have I disappered. We had gone out of town, to visit Harmain (the two holy lands: Makkah & Madinah), to cool the eyes of my beloved parents and also to perform Umrah. Alhumdulillah!
Our journey was long and tiring, but I tired to fill it with lot of fun, adventures and learning. With the izan (permission) of Allah. Alhumdulillah Allah swt has blessed us with countless opportunities to travel around the Kingdom and also around the world, and I pray that He does so in the future too. (Ameen). Many people have asked me how I deal with the kids in the car??! How I "tame" them if you want to call it that. InshaAllah I will be sharing some of the things/tips/ideas/experiences that have worked for us. Before I start I would like to add that it's not as easy as it seems, but its worth the try because traveling teaches us tremendously! This will inshaAllah be a great help for those who want to or LOVE to travel but have somewhat stopped after having kids. And also those who are just too worried about how to manage/entertain kids in the car or how to keep them in there seats (as much as possible) during long hours of a flight.
So here we go....
1. Rely on Allah, and ask for tawfeeq (ability). Make dua and pray two nafil before leaving (if possible). What will you be asking for?
- travel goes smoothly
- kids stay calm and under control
- provide us with unexpected learning experiences
- your own sanity and calmness.
- His protection and mercy
- to make the distance short and comfortable
- to be able to enjoy and have fun
2. Dua of traveling. Start the journey with the traveling prayers, if you are leaving someone behind know or read the supplication of the resident for them. Its a great way to teach the kids the dua and letting them know that we start everything with the name of Allah swt. AR looks forward to reading them and now H tries to repeat after us to mashaAllah.
- I have this car "must haves".
Prayer mat, Fortress of the Muslim; morning & evening dua books; other Adhkar books; Arabic for dummies CD; Nasheed CD; Quran recitioan CD; Minshawis 30 Juz for children CD; a Mushaf; one book for AR and one for H; a book for myself and my husband; A waterproof mat in the trunk to sit anywhere (beach, parks, desert); favorite toys; Sunblock.
3. Different learning tools.
- Educational games. You can make your own or buy some travel games we had this travel board game and also a wrap up matching cards.
- Worksheets. Laminatting all the sheets will save you ink on your printer and you can reuse them everytime you travel. Try to chose images that relevent to your travel and the place you are traveling too. i.e Scavenger hunts: about the customs/culture, road signs, airport, different vehicles, car colors, nature, about the country/city. Map, so the child can mark the starting and ending point and where you are stopping. Other fun worksheets on topics that interest you child. (Remember, DO NOT make the car into a class room! have fun and let them have fun too, if they are not interested in doing something thats fine, so not force them to do ALL the activities you brought!).
- I spy bags. You can purchase them from etsy. (we made a temporary one with a sturdy ziplock bag, I will either be purchasing one or making my own).
- Books. Have a variety of reading books and activity books. I would recommended wipe-out books, if you don't have those then try laminating the pages.
- Small size etch-a-sketch board. For the toddler to doodle on, or even the preschooler. H loves her doodle board because it fits perfectly in her tiny hands mashaAllah.
- White board. A small size white board and some colored white board markers.
- Paper & clipboard. For coloring and some colors attached to the clipboard with a yarn.
- SING ALONGS! We sing a lot. We try to get baba to sing to but he has to focus on the driving because of the rash Bedouin drivers who almost killed us on several occasions! Singing nasheeds, nursery rhymes and reciting Quran has helped AR memorize a lot of things. We even create our own nursery rhymes.
- Listening Materials. Nasheeds, Quran, Lectures (for the adults when the kid are sleeping), Arabic for dummies or Rosseta Stone. I really want to get audio stories inshaAllah.
4. Snacking time. Have healthy, sweet and salty snacks, that you have prepared from home for the whole family to munch on (I love snacking while traveling! I also take tea for us in a thermos!).
5. Comfy and cozy. Keep the kids in comfortable and easy to move clothes even if you are going to visit someone. Keep blankets if you think you wont have any. I normally change the kids quickly before we arrive to our destination, unless of course they are sleeping and its night time.
6. Traveling by plane. PLEASE save yourself the trouble of listening to those aunties who tell you to OVERdose your children with baby Tylenol or Advil. INSTEAD, you can avoid giving hyperactive foods, give them a bath before living so they are calm. Before leaving from home I always fill there sippy cups with "Chamomile tea". It works wonderfully in keeping them calm and soothing them to sleep. I also keep the homeopathic medicine called "Chamomile 30", it helps with ear aches that are caused by the take off, crankiness due to absolutely ANY reason!, I always keep this is my diaper bag medication pouch.
7. Traveling by car. When driving try to travel during the day-time so children can actually enjoy and look at Allah's nature from the window. Try to also plan most of your activities and trips to places during the day time as well, that will help you because children will be less cranky and fussy. Also make sure that children are well feed to avoid any meltdowns and crankiness.
8. New toy! This always works like magic (astaghfirullah) but really! it works like a miracle! even if its worth a dollar. Children get so happy...try to pick something that your child will like. I SOMEtimes rap it as well.
9. Toy back pack. For an older child its easier to keep a back pack with their things in it
Controlling kids in a car or even in a plane is an "ART" that you will have to gain if you want to have a smooth ride to your destination. I would like to call it "The Art of Travel". I am still working on gaining strength over this art, every journey has taught us something new and something to work on. "With practice comes perfection". However, always remember that "Perfection" is ONLY for Allah, we can master something but, know that true perfection is ONLY and ONLY for Allah. Walillahil Hamd! (And for Allah is the praise)
Its perfectly normal to be scared and worried about how to travel with kid (by car or plane). I was too...to the point that I just wanted to blink my eyes and arrive at our destination, I know I had no magic carpet. We said bissmillah and embarked on the journey which opened doors to a world we were missing out on! Alhumdulillah, tawfeeq comes from Allah. Every journey has taught us SO much.
InshaAllah I will be posting soon about what travel teaches us.
Please share any tips and advice you have to improve our next journey inshaAllah.