We’re packing up today to leave tomorrow for a big trip. Trips with the family can be fun and rewarding, but they also have their downsides. When you’re traveling with a big group it can be hard to balance the attention spans of everyone involved. Little Lady is really starting to get up and get moving. She’s much more confident in walking and is even picking up a little speed. This is really great developmentally -wise but adventure-wise? It can be a frustrating period. She wants to get down and explore which is awesome! But Little Big Guy wants to walk at his own pace. So how can you juggle too little explorers who explore at different paces? Keep reading and I’ll tell you how I do it!
1) Carry that baby
Ok, this one is kind of cheating since we’re taking the toddler out of the mix. But babywearing is still a life saver for me. Little Lady gets to come along for the ride and look around and see all the beautiful things, but since she’s being carried me and Little Big Guy can go at a faster pace. This is really great for trails that have a specific destination we are trying to get to like a waterfall or overlook. As long as we are moving at a good pace it’s enough to keep Little Lady happy. If we’re stopping to check out a lot of things she gets antsy and wants to get down and explore. When she starts getting squirmy and cranky, I give her something to hold. A stick, a rock anything from the ground usually keeps her occupied until it is time to get out and explore.
Baby wearing: So you can snuggle ALLLLLL the time
2) Taking turns
Sometimes the promise of being able to be the leader in a few moments is enough to get Little Big Guy to slow down a bit. Sometimes the promise of being able to get down in a second is enough to placate Little Lady. This give and take requires a lot of patience but it can work. Taking turns is an important life lesson to learn anyway, so why not learn it on an adventure! Everyone wins with this method because you can get up and go for a bit, and then compromise to slow down and play with some rocks. Or sticks. Or leaves. Whatever your little one is into.
Taking turns: Stop to smell the flowers then go run around
3) Playing games
While you’re taking turns, a good way to keep the older kids occupied is to play games like “I Spy” while the younger kids are going at a slower pace. This requires the older kids to slow down a bit, but since they’re playing a game they don’t even realize it! I also find that engaging in a scavenger hunt helps as well. If you happen to see something that is on the hunt, use that as a time to let the slower kids explore while the bigger kids look for items on their list.
4) Practice the stoplight game
Speaking of games, the stoplight game is one of our favorites! You are probably already familiar with the game. Kid runs. Parent says “red light”. Kid stops. Parent says “green light”. Kid runs. And so on and so forth. This game can take a little practice with following rules, but big kids can get the hang of it pretty quickly. I’ll let Little Big Guy run ahead, then when he gets a bit too far I’ll give him the cue to stop. Depending on how much energy he has that day, I’ll either tell him to run back to me or to wait. He likes to run back to me most of the time because then he can run back ahead. He gets to keep moving and that makes him happy. But if you have a patient child, waiting is a good alternative. I probably wouldn’t recommend this for exploring in a crowded city. I prefer to keep the kids close. But if you’re on a hike or exploring outdoors, this is a great method to try!
And he’s off!
What are you go to tips and tricks for juggling children who want to go different paces? I’d love to hear how you manage multiple children on your everyday adventures!