Traveling with Kids: Time Changes

The problem with the two Washingtons is not just the distance between the two. It is the three hour time change that really gets you, especially when traveling with children. We’ve tried just about every strategy and technique over the past 4 years to survive the time change with kids and we certainly haven’t found the magic bullet, but maybe our trials will help you find what may be best for you.

– Travel times. Traditionally we’ve traveled in the afternoon, leaving Seattle at about 2pm. The goal was for the kids to take their naps on the airplane. We would arrive in the Other Washington around bedtime and they would be ready to go to sleep. I mean all of that was theoretical, it never worked, the kids wouldn’t nap, be terribly cranky by the time we landed and just blah. This time we took a morning flight. Getting the kids out of the house at 5am wasn’t great, but they were in a good mood on the plane, had breakfast on the airplane and then napped in the car once we got to the Other Washington. Our return flight is usually the 5pm flight out of the Other Washington and they do usually sleep on the flight. We arrive slightly after their west coast bed time and put them straight to bed. There can definitely be some melt downs with all the transitions with sleepy kids (plane to stroller, stroller to parking shuttle, shuttle to car, car to house, pjs and bed) but ultimately the evening return flight has worked for us and having the kids quickly get back on a west coast schedule.

– Bedtimes. When we first flew to the Other Washington with 4 month old Lila, we kept her on a west coast schedule. This wasn’t a big deal because she napped every 3 hours, slept through the night and was pretty cute and easy while she was awake. We had this time zone thing figured out. Now our kids are 2 and 4 and bedtimes are much more complicated. Kids don’t nap or they don’t nap until 5pm local time – so bedtime at 7pm local doesn’t work. Keeping west coast bedtimes can be done, but keep in mind that means the kids won’t be in bed until 11pm local time. Which may be cool, unless you are on the east coast for a business trip and have a 7am local time event. Because that sucks.

– Meals. This one may be easy or hard, depending on how you look at it. My kids are in the toddler/preschooler eating phase, in which they both just eat continuously and whenever they want. Lucy especially NEEDS breakfast the moment she wakes up, or else all hell breaks loose. And please do not tell her you don’t have rice crispies. Don’t even try. Anyway, we try to keep them on some kind of meal schedule, but they like to snack all day and by the time dinner rolls around, they’ve probably had 2 apples, cheese, bread and yogurt in the past 3 hours. We also found that if they were going to bed on west coast time, feeding them east coast dinner at 6pm doesn’t really work. They will need another snack. (Parenting is really all about snacks and never leaving the house without them.)

– Forget the schedule. My kids really thrive on schedules, really need them to keep calm and happy. But it is hard to do on vacations. We’re out and about, visiting people, working with others’ schedules, etc, and this destroys their schedule (even before adding in the 3 hour time difference). It stresses me out, I hate staying up until 11:30pm waiting for them to tire for bed, I hate that they don’t get regular naps and the stress and lack of sleep all combine to make traveling really difficult. But we do it, and we suck it up and give them snacks at midnight even when we have to be at work in 7 hours.

So realizing I have no real tips for travel schedules for kids? Check out this great webinar on sleep and time zone travel here (from the former Isis Parenting, whose sleep webinars I miss all the time). Have tips to share? I’d love to hear it before I swear off traveling between time zones forever.

Traveling with Children – Preparing

Traveling with Kids: The Preparation

Ready for Take Off!

We’ve traveled a fair amount with both of our children. At not even 4 years old, Lila has taken more cross country flights than many adults. Lucy was on her first flight at 3 weeks old. This isn’t to suggest we’re experts at flying with children. I will say, however, that we at least have an idea what to expect and are never surprised when asked to take our shoes off by TSA.

So what have I learned through all these experiences traveling with children? Number one thing is to never think you are prepared for everything. You will not be. You can bring your child’s favorite snack, favorite book, favorite stuffed animal and have 20 hours of Dora the Explorer downloaded and they will still have a meltdown at some point. No one likes traveling. Not adults, not kids and no, not babies. So how do we prepare for a trip with 2 kids these days?

– Packing. I try to reduce the duplication of work by packing straight out of the laundry, instead of putting away clean clothes and then taking them back out to pack. This weekend I just sat on the floor with the clean laundry for all of us and made piles of what to pack. Straight from laundry basket to suitcase – and this helps ensure what I packed are things the kids will wear, since they recently wore it.

– Lists. I make a list for everything. I use big index cards and have one for each type of packing needed – suitcases, carry ons – as well as things that need to be done at home before we leave. I check off as things get packed in their correct spot and then circle what is still needed (like last minute items such as toiletries, shoes, etc.) I also try to be as general as possible in this list. Unless I think there is really a specific outfit I need (or the kids need) I don’t write down “blue pants, pink top;” I keep it more general to “7 casual outfits,” “2 work outfits.” Oh and I always forget pjs. Don’t forget pjs.

– Involve the kids. Asking a 2 year old and a 4 year old to pack their own clothes will not end well. However, asking them each to pick 2 books, a stuffed animal and a snack to put in their own backpacks to bring on the plane will. It helps them feel ownership over the packing process, as well as what they have on the place. This is of course not all I bring because 2 books does not last 6 hours, and neither does one snack, but it helps.

– Chillax. So I’m no good at this step, but the fact is our family could be the only people on the flight and I could have endless applesauce and peanut butter bars and the kids will still be bored. Because no one likes flying for 6 hours. Do your best, be as prepared as you can be and there is no shame in a glass of wine on an 8am flight because it will help you breathe easier for the next 6 hours. I mean, we’re headed east and it will practically be lunchtime there.

Good luck with your travels – I’ll keep you posted as our trip progress as to how ours goes.

Working Smartly in the New Year


2015, amiright? The new year holds lots of possibilities, but also so many unknowns and things we want to do. We’re already planning for a busy year (at the moment mostly filled with preschooler birthday parties which seem to be the party of the season right now). With travel, potentially putting our house on the […]

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Our Year.

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Practically Wordless Wednesday

  I took this picture after bath time last night. If you know Lila and Lucy, you know that this picture captures their personalities perfectly. Just perfectly them.

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Two over Two

Lucy. The Lucy Goose. Goose. Lulu. Lu. LuGu. Gu. You are a girl of many nicknames. You are, as another parent told me, a lot of personality in a little package. You are smart. You are funny. You are independent but you are such a momma’s girl. And today, you are two.   I remember […]

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Working Moms Wishlists

Check out my and other working mom’s holiday wish lists on Liberating Working Moms today!  I’d say we all have pretty good taste.  

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Secret Santa Joy

Breakfast with my little lady thanks to my Blogger Secret Santa!

Part of the fun of being a blogger is “meeting” people across the interwebs. This is part of the reason I was excited to participate in the Blogger’s Secret Santa Gift Exchange this year. Bright and early this morning my Secret Santa sent us a Starbucks gift card, which let’s be honest, what more does […]

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What are you getting for. . .

What Are You Getting For So and So: Gift Guide for All the Supporting Players in Your Life

Tis the season of frantic emails between friends to say “hey, what are you getting for. . . the babysitter, your grandmother, the dogwalker. . . ” As I’ve talked about in the past few posts, gift giving is hard, expected, and exhausting. So let’s pool our ideas and try to figure things out. Here’s […]

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Gift Cards: Evil or Evil Genius?

Are Gift Cards Impersonal or Just Right?

So the holidays are here. Ho ho ho. I love the holidays, I really do, though I do tend to get wrapped up in all the to dos and out a bit. After a late arriving birthday party invitation through our weekend schedule into disarray this week, I may have had a small anxiety attack […]

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