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Minimizing the Meltdown: Tips for Trips with Kids Under 5

Every child is different, but toddlers come in similar packages. As parents, we have control over our children's environment. Anticipating what may cause a meltdown can help avoid one.
11/03/2015 12:44pm ET | Updated November 2, 2016
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Crazy sad lady

I love fall just as much as the next girl. Pumpkin spice lattes, fall festivals, fairs and all the other excitement that fall has to offer. Becoming a parent means a lifestyle change. The days of spending all day or evening at event become quite challenging with kids, especially toddlers under the age of five. Have you ever planned the perfect outing for your kids, only to be disappointed by tears and tantrums? Here's what I've found works for minimizing the meltdowns:

Take your children first thing in the morning when they wake up, or right after a nap. Most toddlers have meltdowns because they are either tired or overstimulated. Timing is everything!

Pack extra snacks. I love fair and festival food as much as the next girl. However, I have a very picky four-year-old. She loves dairy products and doesn't drink much except milk or water. Knowing that, I keep her favorite drinks on hand if we are going to be out for several hours. For me, this helps to minimize her meltdowns.

If possible, bring reinforcements. By reinforcements, I mean Grandma, friends, or family. Any extra hands on deck are always a big help with little ones.

Bring your camera (or keep your phone charged). You won't want to miss their grins in the pumpkin patch, powdered sugar all over their faces, and anything else that might occur.

Use the stroller as extra storage. When you have little kids, you feel like you are bringing everything but the kitchen sink on an outing. Your arms get full, and you are constantly digging for something in a bag. The stroller works to keep the kids contained, as well as storage for all the kiddie gear! I have a four year old and almost two year old, and I absolutely love our Joovy stroller.

Ignore the stares. People will stare, grumble and glare. Anyone who has ever raised kids, knows that toddlers can be unpredictable. Once my oldest daughter and I were shopping in Belk. She had just woken from a nap and was being fussy in her stroller. A woman walked over and said to her, aw, what's wrong little girl? Are you sleepy? Does your mom need to take you home for a nap? I tried not to glare at her, but kindly informed her that she had just woken from a nap.

Know your child's over stimulation threshold. Sometimes as adults, we forget that all that excitement can be overwhelming for them, especially if we are deviating from their normal schedule. We had to leave a Halloween event because my four year old pitched a royal fit (when I say royal, I mean royal). Nothing was going her way, and my one year old was half asleep anyway, so we just came home and put everyone to bed. We decided it was better to give them what they needed, rather than push the issue just because it was Halloween.

Every child is different, but toddlers come in similar packages. As parents, we have control over our children's environment. Anticipating what may cause a meltdown can help avoid one.