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Our family summer break has been filled to busting with family, friends and food. While some families disappear for a week or two to a beach house, we soak up the summer break in our own way, zipping to BBQs, birthday parties and beyond. It is one of our big birthday seasons, with nine birthdays (including Pebble’s!), plus New Year Eve celebrations, the annual New Years Day BBQ with friends and Australia Day just around the corner.
It gets very, very hectic, but it’s our own kind of fun and we’re making memories every day. Pebble is getting that little bit older now and will run off with the other kids to play. She has been gushing about how much fun she’s been having. Isn’t it cool how easily kids make friends on holidays? Rocky, on the other hand, will explore and destroy everything he gets his hands on, but that’s another story!
It helps to be super organised for this time of year. We’re always taking a plate to share, packing an esky full of drinks, buying birthday presents and loading up the car with the paraphernalia that comes with parenting. Here are some of my tips for staying sane while on holidays with kids – with little geek-tech help.
Family Holiday Tips – Geek Style!
1. Makes lists and check them twice. Stay on top of all your jobs with a to do list. I love using the Any.Do app on my tablet, phone and PC. It syncs easily between phone, destop and tablet and is with me wherever I need it.
2. Map it. Google Maps is awesome for checking out the deets of any new destinations, or telling you just how much more of that baby’s screaming you need to endure before you get to your friend’s place for the BBQ. It can also tell you how to get to the nearest petrol station, bottle shop or supermarket, for those last minute bits and pieces.
3. Entertain them. Rocky is a car screamer. It sucks. He’s a little better now that he’s facing forwards in the car, but one thing that really helps keep him distracted is watching his favourite TV show. He adores Ben and Holly – I think it’s the clear pictures and children’s voices that keep him focussed. As an early childhood teacher, I can’t advocate too much screen time for little ones…. but as a mother who’s about to lose her mind on a long journey – charge that sucker up and you’re good to go!
4. Save those precious memories! We’re always snapping away with our cameras using phones or tablets, but are we making sure those photos are stored safely? There are probably a few different ways to do this, but we back up all our photos taken on the phone and tablet with Google+. It happens automatically wherever we are and is a huge relief to know that, if nothing else, our photos are safely stored should our precious devices end up lost at sea or dunked in a swimming pool.
5. Chill Out. We all love listening to music, especially on long drives, and use a streaming music service to listen to our favourite artists (or a bit of Bing at Christmas time). Pandora is the one that works for us, but there are a bunch to choose from. If you have the right technology you can stream the music through your car radio or home stereo system too, so you don’t have to listen to it through tinny mobile phone speakers. Just ask at your local car or gadget store for a retractable car audio cable to connect to your phone or tablet (or even your home stereo) and you’re good to go. We picked ours up for about $10.
Of course, to do all of this it helps to have awesome internet access and we’ve been super lucky to enjoy a Telstra 4G Mobile Broadband device this summer. It was a cinch to set up and is small enough to fit into my pocket. It connects easily with our mobile phones and tablets, and has made life so much easier as we’ve been zipping from here to there. I love that it’s pre-paid, so you don’t need to sign up for a plan every month. Telstra have more awesome tips for your family holiday – just download this nifty ebook (featuring yours truly) >>> http://telstra4gwifi.com.au/
One last little tip before I shoot off to another BBQ – find yourself a quiet corner of the world occasionally and enjoy a cold beverage with your feet up. It will do you the world good! (Don’t forget to take a selfie while you’re there and share it with all your mates on Facebook and Instagram!).
Have a fabulous holidays, wherever you are!