I have spoken with a number of moms with little toddlers and young kids who all have the same concern about travel — “I don’t think my kid will wear a mask for that long”.
Well…here are some tips to help your kids travel while wearing masks, so you can take trips and make family memories as soon as your family feels comfortable.
Please note that this post is in no way informing you of what is the safest or wisest decision for you and your family. These are strategies we have learned as our family has started to travel again. It is up to you to personally determine what is safest and in your family’s best interest.
If you do choose to travel while masks are required (who knows when that restriction will go away…), here are some strategies for making travel possible with kids wearing masks.
1. Find a Fun Pattern
The pattern on a mask may have no influence on its effectiveness, but it can be a game-changer when convincing your child to wear it! Just like everything else with kids…masks somehow get more exciting and fun the second it has a picture of their favorite Disney character on it!
Now that masks have been required for a number of months, there are tons of options for you to choose from. You can have masks custom made on Etsy, buy masks from many of your favorite retail stores, or have them shipped to your house from Amazon.
I found a cute set of masks on Amazon that worked out perfectly for Austin. One had trucks and cars on it — for wearing in the car and on the go. Another had airplanes on it — for wearing on the plane when we fly. The last one was solid gray — for wearing when the others are needing a good wash.
You know your kids. Find a fun pattern that will make them think wearing masks is fun!
2. Consider Shape & Material
The actual feel of the fabric and fit on your child’s face is one of the most important factors. You want to make sure the fabric is not too thick and hot on their face, but also avoid any thin fabric that might be scratchy. Make sure it is as comfortable as possible.
I knew that if I got Austin a mask that was constantly falling down, he would get frustrated with it after about 5 minutes. For this reason, I prioritized finding a toddler mask that had the nose bridge wire.
All three of his masks have the nose wire, and it is an absolute requirement for any future mask purchases (for him AND me). The wire helps hold the mask in place on his face so it’s not riding up into his eyes or falling down under his nose all the time.
I’ve seen so many kids’ masks constantly falling off, so they are constantly touching it. They end up just ripping it off or leaving it fallen down because they get sick of messing with it.
PRO Tip: If your child likes to wear sunglasses while wearing masks, then this wire will also help avoid fogging up their glasses.
Remember, we want to avoid frustration and giving kids reasons to pull their masks off.
3. Practice Wearing Masks
In order to help kids get comfortable wearing masks, you can practice with them. Have them wear it for 15-30 minute chunks of time at home. Or have them wear it at an outdoor mall for a few hours (this is what I did for Austin’s first time with a mask).
Find a local zoo or outdoor venue that may be more relaxed about kids NOT wearing masks. Then if it’s not going over well with your little one, it’s not the end of the world.
As you start practicing wearing masks, also start setting expectations. Explain the new rules to your kids and set the expectation of them wearing masks. Where do they have to wear them? How long will they need to keep them on? Why?
PRO Tip: Let your kids know when they will be able to take off their masks. This gives them the assurance that there will be times they get to take a break and remove it.
4. Take Breaks from Wearing Masks
Kids may get frustrated at times because wearing masks everywhere is not people’s first choice regardless of age! Find a way to give them a break from masks without violating the rules around you.
Give your kids a snack or drink break. They can take their masks off and fill up their bellies!
Stop what you’re doing and sit down for a meal. Even at restaurants, you can take your masks off while eating, so it’s a great way to again fill bellies and give your faces a breather.
In some places (like Walt Disney World), they have relaxation stations where you are able to put up your feet and take off your mask even if you are not eating or drinking. This could be a good option if you just need to let your face breathe, but your stomach doesn’t need any more food.
PRO Tip: Always have a backup mask on hand. If one mask gets sweaty, wet, or dirty, you can always offer your child a fresh, clean mask to wear. This keeps it more comfortable on their face so they aren’t needing “breaks” from wearing masks every 10 minutes.
5. Make it Fun!
You and I both know that wearing masks around everywhere is pretty much no fun at all. BUT…you can make almost any situation fun if you have a little creativity and determination.
Tell your child how AWESOME their mask looks! Get other people to compliment them on it.
Praise them for how great they are doing with it. Tell them they are such BIG kids and doing an incredible job wearing masks just like mom/dad/big bro/cousin/friend (whoever they idolize).
Find funny little things to do while wearing masks that make them fun. For example, Austin started giving “mask kisses” to Bo and me. He thinks it’s funny and giggles every time. It helps lighten the mood and makes wearing masks more fun for him.
Whatever the method, get creative! Make the experience of wearing masks as enjoyable as possible. Slowly ease your kids into it, and they will be ready to roll with it on your upcoming trip.
Even with masks…it’s still Worth Every Trip!