This is what it looks like when Josh and I take our kidlets somewhere (in this case when we truck them through the SLC airport).
Boy were we an eyebrow raising crew as we toured Florida and the Bahamas last week (guess they don't see too many parents with half a dozen kids in tow). We got a lot of curious stares, a bunch of "Wow, are all these yours?" and a couple glares of disgust (but those were few and far between).
It was really nice that almost everyone we interacted with was upbeat and pleasant about our plus size family. We heard a lot of "God bless you," to which I generally responded, "Thanks, we need it." And we do.
While on one island I had lady approach me and ask if all these kids were mine. I smiled and said, "You bet." She smiled back and said, "Do you mind if I ask where you are from?" I told her we are from Utah. Then she kind of sat up straighter and asked if we were member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I said we were. She said, "I just knew with all those kids you had to be." That made me laugh. She was a member of our church as well and we had a nice little chat. What a sweet lady.
As we were getting off the ship we had to go through security, security and more security. As we herded our youngsters through one more doorway the lady manning that station sarcastically called out to us while smiling blithely, "Hey, you two, I think you forgot the kids!" She said she hadn't seen quite so many children with one set of parents in quite a long time. She was fun.
Traveling with our entire entourage does tend to put me on edge. I count to six a lot as I tick off each head in my mind while pointing with my finger. But, we all made it home in one piece and have some unique and exciting stories to tell...the least of which is that eight people managed to fly and sail hundreds and hundreds of miles and all come home happy and still together.
A few of my tips for traveling with kids. I always pack a bag for them before we leave and I do the packing so they don't get to look inside and visit their surprises until we are actually on the move. Here are a few of the things I tend to pack.
1. Snacks. Almost anything can be cured with a tasty snack. I tend to put them in snack size zip seal sacks so that there are several packets of yumminess to spread across the trip. While on the plane I let the kids be completely in charge of when they ate their treats. When we are driving I sometimes set a timer and let them open a certain treat at designated times along the way so that there is something to look forward to (sometimes I do the same thing with wrapped presents that I stash in their bags...fabulous fun to hang over their heads: "Be good and we'll open present #1 when the timer rings").
2. Gum, at least for flights. I make sure each kid has a ready supply of gum so that air pressure changes during take off and landing don't hurt their ears. For our family this is a must.
3. Empty water bottle. Since you can't take a full sized drink through security I pack an empty water bottle in each bag and then fill it once we are through the scanners. Then everyone has a drink on hand when they need it throughout the flight and I don't have to pay super high prices at airport vendors.
4. Activity books. I trek to the dollar store before any trip and purchase age appropriate activity books for every child. They (the kids, not the books) are always excited that these are new things that they haven't seen before. I also tend to tuck colored pens and a new box of crayons in each bag so they have something to draw with as well as an empty notebook for coloring. I avoid markers because they are a mess on fabric seats and colored pencils because they tend to need lots of sharpening which is a pain.
5. Travel games. Another dollar store must. Because thy are from the dollar store I don't care too much if they lose the pieces to checkers, tic-tac-toe, hangman or others. I do store them in zip seal bags so the pieces are easier to keep track of, but many pieces never do find their way home after a trip.
6. Comfort item. Especially for my smallest ones it is important that they have their blanket or teddy bear on hand for when they get sad because they will get sad.
7. Wet wipes and tissues. Just do it. You will be glad to have them available. Don't waste money on single packs, just buy a big one and separate wipes/tissues into individual zip seal bags. Works greatand saves grumpiness from sticky hands and dirty faces..
Anyway, those are the essentials that I make sure we have. We usually also pack mp3 players and headphones (also check the dollar store for those then you aren't as upset when kids break them). It makes travel soooo much more pleasant when kids are entertained.