IMG_5662I am about to embark on 32 consecutive days of travel with my two children. My husband will join for most, but not all, of the trip. I am already steeling myself for the moment in the vacation when my daughter (age 5), who loves her own bed, decides to balk at the string of unfamiliarity that will surround her. My seven year old son will, no doubt, become over-tired at some point. From that point on, it’ll be a test of wills to get to the finish line. Here’s my plan. Let’s hope it works.

For starters, we’ll follow as many of our normal routines as we can. On Monday we will eat muffins, Tuesday we’ll have French Toast, on Wednesday I’ll serve waffles, and Thursday I’m hoping to find a cinnamon roll, and on Friday, I’ll fry some pancakes. These are the breakfasts my kids have been eating for about three years now. The more I can replicate, the better off we’ll be. A few weeks ago, I added a game where we all share three stories at dinner, one of which can be fiction. I started this to give us an anchor point at the end of the day. Within a few days, it was routine, so we’ll keep this going. We’ll also share a treat before bed and I’m bringing a couple of familiar books to read at bedtime.

The second thing we’ll do is vary our activities. Too many amusement park days will make me explode and too many days of art will give my kids the shakes. So we’ll think about how we can rotate our activities to not go overboard on a particular type of activity. We will also REST on a regular basis. When I was young, my family started the day early and ended the day late. But I know everyone in my family will do better if we plan to just visit a pool or park with no thought given to how much time it will take every few days. Wasted time? Maybe. But also necessary.

Third, I will smile. Every morning, I will smile. When I sense tired and cranky kids, I will smile. Because what I learned last year from a month-long excursion is that, when you are the mom on vacation, your primary job is to right the ships around you that have veered off-course. And to do this, it takes a really positive attitude.

Fourth, perform at least onecrazy feat every two or three days. My kids are still laughing about burying me completely in sand. The laughter it prompted and the working together was totally worth all the effort it took to remove sand from everywhere.

Finally? I’m putting my sites on the Jean-Paul Hevin Chocolatier that is mere steps from the Eiffel Tower. It’ll be one of the last sites we see. And when I’m there? I’m going to buy the most amazing box of chocolates I can afford and a box of French macarons that I will tuck away and possibly eat all by myself on the flight home. Because this? This will totally keep me going.

Do you have any other advice you’d care to share?

Elaine will be blogging about her children melting down over strange food, planes that are uncomfortable, and her tired husband at Connor and Helen Grow Up!