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By Jocie Ferron

This year’s Christmas promises to be a memorable one. For the first time (and possibly the last!) my Australian family and my husband’s Canadian family will be together under one roof.

Talk about a full house − but what an amazing experience to be treasured for years to come. 

One of the most important things I have discovered since living in a new country is to always cherish those few times we are now together.

While we spend the next couple of weeks hanging out doing Christmassy stuff, making Christmas treats, eating turkey and watching cheesy Christmas movies, there will be one thought lurking in the back of my mind: packing! That and getting two kids prepared for our flight back to Australia after Christmas.

If you’ve traveled with kids (and I’m sure that’s the case for many mining families) you’ll know how challenging it can be to get organised. Like me, you’ve also probably Googled ‘travelling with kids’ and found lots of wonderful and weird stuff online. Inevitably these days, you stumble across the amazingly creative Pinterest moms who make everything from scratch (travel backpacks, neck pillows, snacks in the shape of planes) which makes us average moms throw our hands in the air and drive to the nearest store.

My travel history as a mom is a little varied. I’ve experienced great flights with hardly a hiccup. But I also still have the scars from an insanely horrible 15-hour flight with a two-year old and four-month old. For what it’s worth, here’s how I’ve survived those long-haul flights with kids in tow:

  • Relax: If you only remember one thing from this column, let it be this. Travelling with kids can be stressful, disorganized, chaotic and noisy (it may also involve kids screaming incessantly in long, slow customs lines). Your ability to cope will have a flow-on effect for your children. So just take it in your stride and remember you will probably never see any of these people again.
  • Take time out: When my husband and I moved from Australia to Canada with the boys, we made a pact to smile and relax no matter what was thrown at us. If one of us was about to lose the plot, we would signal to the other and walk away for five minutes to take a breath and regroup.
  • Organization: Be as prepared as possible, but remember that no amount of organization will help with unexpected snow storms, delayed planes or tired, emotional kids. What you can do though is have back-up plans A, B and C (a pack of cards, colouring books, special toys for emergencies and food). Snacks are vital! Kids get grumpy when they are hungry and often just a bit of food can solve a multitude of problems.
  • Earphones: If you know the plane has little movie screens, make sure the kids have good earphones. The ones on the planes are terrible for little kids. We made that mistake once – the day after landing we went straight to the shops and bought some for the return trip.
  • TV, TV, and did I mention TV? Our kids aren’t allowed to be couch potatoes at home, but I change the rules when we travel. While they’re watching movies on my iPad, I’m getting downtime from trying to be ‘super mommy’ every second of the trip. So relax and let the kids enjoy. A word to the wise though: don’t forget the charger!

More articles from the joyful Jocie Ferron:

Australian nurse Jocie Ferron was volunteering in Mongolia when she met her French-Canadian husband, who was working in the mining industry. After a few years living in Australia they decided to settle in Canada with their two young children. They enjoyed a few years in a north Quebec mining town (where Jocie had daily adventures navigating life in French) and they've now settled in New Brunswick.