We’re already on Day 4 of our family vacation to the Windy City! I grew up LOVING our family trips to this place. Now, it’s totally surreal to visit with my own kiddos {and wonderful to see the city through their eyes}. There are lots of tutorials available for “how to have fun with kids in Chicago.” Here’s the beginning of MY slightly offbeat list in hopes it helps you all enjoy Chi-town someday.

STEP 1: Force your kids to have screen time. We didn’t initially want two screens in the silver bullet; in fact, we asked to have it priced without the screens and were shocked to learn it would have been more expensive! But holy smokes – I’m so glad we caved. When two kids, ages 4 and 9, can watch and hear their own movies during an eight hour ride? It may just be the key to world peace.

STEP 2: Add at least an hour cushion to every time estimate, due to unforeseen circumstances. For instance, how could we have guessed Tru would spill a smoothie all over his car seat moments before we planned to pull out of the driveway?

STEP 3: Crash with friends who have kiddos. And if those beloved buddies in the ‘burbs love to cook and have a community pool, even better. Our friends Tracy & Josh were kind enough to have us stay with them and their little munchkins for a couple of nights. Despite the chaos of moving in one week ago, Tracy made a homemade quiche and pancakes with apple compote one morning and Josh grilled the best flank steak and chicken for dinner one night {after literally building his new grill that afternoon}. So grateful. But you’ll have to find your own friends to do this for you.

STEP 4: Read this blog post on being a good house guest {good for any kid old enough to understand it}. Ryder and I read and talked through it before our trip and, about 58% of the time, he remembered to follow the guidelines – which ain’t too shabby.

STEP 5: Despite the good influence of Step 4, be prepared to utter plenty of parent-only lingo, like “don’t you dare do that” or “stop hitting your brother” or “no, you cannot pee in the car.” Pick your battles wisely so you’re not in a constant state of distress.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you where we’re now staying {it’s awesome}, what to take to Navy Pier and how not to swim with dolphins. You’re waiting with bated breath…I just know it.