Traveling with Preschoolers: Setting Expectations


A few months ago, I started packing for a trip we needed to make to attend a training. I picked out a few outfits and rolled them into my packing cube. After I through about the week, I pulled the clothes out of my suitcase. I laid across my bed and opened my email app to reread the information emails about the training and scanned for the what to wear and the what to expect sections. My stomach knotted after realizing those section lacked any helpful details. You see, the training was not just a conference where you listen to speakers. It also included hands on and active training.

I did what any American mom would do.

I made a Target run.

I felt my anxiety rise with each trip into the fitting rooms (Is it just me or are yoga pants totally see through?!?). Struggling to fin an acceptable workout outfit combined with not being sure that I needed it (plus trying to entertain two preschoolers who expressed they were totally over Target) stressed me out.

I found that my preschoolers react the same way. They travel well, they meet new people well, but they need to know what to expect. Though a small issue in the grand scheme of things, I felt anxious and stressed about not knowing the expected dress code for the training. The same goes for my littles. They embrace new situations must more happily when I set their expectations and they know what we plan to do.

Since realizing this new part of their personalities and personal need, we now try to share the details we know with them. If we plan a long car ride, we let them know to expect a long car ride. If we have a few days at home, we let them know that we plan to stay home and recuperate. I would hate for someone to give me orders and me not to understand at all the situation and what to expect. I respect that in my kids and try to give them time to mentally prep for situations. My kids get plenty of chances to spontaneously pivot. We just try to minimize it so that we minimize melt downs when things do not go as planned.