The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working Moms

The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working MomsWhich family vacation resorts have you tried and enjoyed? Are there any you’ve tried that you wouldn’t? Which is your kids’ favorite? When you want to have a fun family vacation but don’t want to do a lot of planning, where do you go? Which do you think are the easiest family vacation resorts for working moms?

Before my husband and I became parents, I wouldn’t have considered an all-inclusive and/or resort-type of vacation. We valued flexibility and spontaneity: the opportunity to have our full pick of hotels and B&Bs, the ability to choose any restaurants we wanted and also to discover some by wandering around a new city, etc. Why would we want to limit ourselves by taking a cruise or staying in a resort, and why would we want to stay in one place?

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Three Companies That Rent Baby Gear for Travel

Three Companies That Rent Baby Gear for TravelParents learn very quickly that going anywhere with a baby requires a lot of “stuff.” If you’re talking going out to dinner and bringing a diaper bag packed with supplies, that’s not so bad, but family vacations are another story. If you’re traveling somewhere (say, an Airbnb) rather than visiting friends or relatives who already have baby gear you can share or borrow, you’re likely to find yourself with a long list of things to bring: carseat, Pack ‘n Play, stroller, baby carrier, etc. — and that’s a huge hassle, especially if you’re flying with kids. Have you ever used a service that rents baby gear for travel? What did you rent? (Do you have any other strategies for dealing with a need for baby gear on a trip?) As the holidays approach, we thought we would round up three companies that rent baby gear for traveling families:

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Vacation Planning: How Early is Too Early?

vacation-planning-a-year-in-advanceI’ve mentioned before that I’m not great at planning family vacations. Now that J is in kindergarten, though, the school year feels a lot more constraining on our schedule… and I realize it’s only going to get worse from here on out. In order to try to force myself to plan vacations, my husband and I just picked a few things we know we want to do, are divvying up the planning work, and we’re trying to block the year out ahead of time so we know what’s what, with school schedules and other major dates in there.

I’ve heard a bit about “year planning,” as well as about planning way in advance for some trips (I’ve read articles that suggest you plan Disney 9-12 months in advance!) — so I thought it might make an interesting discussion here.  So: Do YOU plan your year in advance, including visits with far-flung relatives, vacations, mini-trips, date nights, etc? Do you go by the school year, calendar year, or something else? If you have grandparents far away do you try to visit them, have them visit you, or explore a new place together? Does this help you stalk ticket prices/hotel prices and the like, help you with planning (or outsourcing planning), or otherwise mentally help you plan? (For those of you who’ve been doing this a while, are there major pitfalls to watch out for?) I had found a summer planner earlier this year that really saved me this summer (I can’t find it now, of course), and we just had a nice discussion about the best planners and planning tools over on Corporette, so I thought we’d discuss here.

(A blogger’s blogger who I follow, Michael Hyatt, has a single Excel spreadsheet that looks awesome for planning your year — it’s from 2013 but you just have to update one cell to the correct date and it automatically changes the dates to the current year.)

Ladies, what say you — are you this ahead of the game? Does it make division of labor easier or harder for vacation planning, as well as for requesting work vacations and more? 

(Pictured: Private collection; all rights reserved.)

Tips for Flying with Kids

Flying with KidsI was just talking with one of my mom friends about my best tips for flying with kids and thought it might make an interesting discussion over here. So ladies, what are your best tips for flying with kids? Have you found that different things worked when they were babies, then toddlers, then kindergartners and beyond? You may want to check out previous tips for using AirBnB with kids, as well as pumping while flying.

Pictured, clockwise: Applesauce / Stroller for car seat / Gate check bag for strollers / Thermos bottlelarge, lightweight, durable nylon bag for carrying on / kiddie headphones.

  • Pack snacks that suck. OK, here is my top tip: You need to pack snacks that kids can suck on to help alleviate ear pressure. Applesauce pouchesThermos/Zoli cups (not straw Take & Toss), lollipops for bigger kids, bottles/binkies/Mom for littler kids. (I always nursed on the plane… it tended to make them sleepy, too, which we always welcomed.) Another big tip: Warn your kids their ears are going to hurt, once before the trip happens and again, loudly, once when you’re on the plane and it’s starting to make its ascent/descent. This accomplishes two things, the first of which is that hopefully your kid won’t freak out when they feel pressure building. Even when the boys were infants I would explain this to them, because who knows what they understand and don’t — you can pull at your ear and their ear more if they’re littler. The second thing this accomplishes is giving your seatmates a heads-up. I think for new parents, particularly, it can be stressful flying with kids because you remember being that single adult on the plane who hated whenever kids cried. Before I had kids it never occurred to me it’s because they’re freaked out that they feel like their heads might explode… so consider it a subtle, informal education for your seatmates. We also bring a lot of other snacks, an empty plastic bag for all our little wrappers and other trash, and as many napkins as we can steal from the airport Au Bon Pain or wherever.

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3 Tips for Using AirBnB — with Kids

Tips for Using AirBnB With Kids | CorporetteMomsWhat are your best tips for renting a vacation house or AirBnB with kids, ladies?  Whether you’re doing AirBnB, VRBO, or another sort of rental, planning and executing the trip can feel like a full-time job in and of itself.

I shared a vacation horror story a week or so ago on Corporette — we rented a small house near a beach in Florida with my inlaws for a week. It turned into a horror story when I injured my knee on day 3 and was stuck on crutches for the remainder of the vacation; in separate incidents my FIL also wound up going to the emergency room, my husband walked into the ocean with his iPhone, and then lost his driver’s license a day before we flew back.*) It got me thinking, though — what are your best tips for renting a house when you have kids? What do you need to think about, above and beyond, if you’re not staying at a hotel or a friend’s house?

1) Babyproofing. My MIL chose our Florida house because it looked really safe online — no stairs, an alarm system on the pool, and more — but we still made sure to pack corner bumpers, outlet plugs, a few cabinet ties, as well as some night lights so we could all avoid bumping anything in the middle of the night. (We didn’t use the adhesive on the corner bumpers — better than nothing, I figured.) I was lucky to find this article before I went about AirBnB and the liability issues that arise because the “hotels” aren’t regulated. It’s a pretty graphic article, but it was good to reset my thinking from “city inspectors have checked this place out!” to “this is someone’s home.”

2) Food.  If you think you’re saving money, don’t forget that you’re going to have to make a massive, massive run to the grocery store your first day there.  My bill came to $420, and that barely took us through 3 meals.  Your house may or may not be stocked with basic things like ketchup, mustard, butter, olive oil, spices, and more (and even if they are there, you may not want to use them!).  We brought two Thermos bottles (one for each kiddo), two Zolis for H, and two Take n Toss cups for J; that was probably the bare minimum if we hadn’t wanted to be washing dishes every two seconds. The next time we do a trip like this, I’m going to do a bit of research ahead of time to see where the closest Costco or the like is, or maybe even travel with some frozen, high-cost food in my packed luggage (depending on trip duration, of course) –maybe I’m crazy but 3 frozen pounds of chicken or ground beef, packed in an insulated bag with ice packs wouldn’t be a bad way to save money, assuming I can get them for a good price ahead of time.

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Your Laziest Mom Hacks

lazy-mom-hacksWhat are your laziest/smartest mom hacks?  What are your best tips for getting stuff done around the house in “unperfect” ways? 

Some readers seemed miffed by my posts on photo organization and organizing kids’ clothes — but I am faaaar from perfect, and hate to give that impression.  (Sorry, ladies!)  Of course I’m going to write a post about the things that I feel like I’ve figured out, while skipping posts about the piles of laundry around my house (and lo, there are many).  So I thought we’d do a post about some of our laziest mom hacks — what are your imperfect systems for Getting Stuff Done?  Of course, some of these “lazy” things below are also some of the smartest things I’ve done. It’s like folding underwear (which I haven’t done in a LOOONG time, well before kids). Once you stop, you’re never going back.

For my $.02:
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