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Ask Jen Anything: Getting Fenced & Traveling With the Kids

by Jen Polvogt

I’m back! It’s been a month since the last edition of “Ask Jen Anything” (“AJA”), and this column comes to you from sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I’m sitting on a chaise lounge next to the pool, watching my husband and son swim.

What a life, huh? I’m grateful every day for the life we’ve built and all the experiences we’re lucky to enjoy.

That said, let’s see what’s in store for us from our readers this month and jump into this edition of “AJA!”

Getting Fenced

“Hired a guy to build my fence in the back yard. He said it would be done in a week. Six weeks later, he still hasn’t finished. He shows up for 45 minutes and leaves for the day. What should I do?” – Craig S

I wish I didn’t have a similar story to share. Mine is a little more detailed. We hired our fence guy to do renovations on a fix-n-flip property that we purchased with my sister and brother-in-law.

Unfortunately, he was a scam artist and took us for about $10,000. My best advice would be not to give him a single dollar until the work is done. Making a down payment of good faith is acceptable – 10 to 15 percent is sufficient, but anything over that is asking for trouble.

Don’t pay until he’s done – Period. And if you have paid and he doesn’t finish, you’ll likely need to go to small claims court to recover your losses.

Good luck, and I hope your fence gets done by this weekend! For more on the epic disaster that was the fence builder turned con man, read my “Fix-n-flip” nightmare here

Traveling With Kids

“Hello! We are about to embark on our first-ever vacation with our kiddo. Kiddo is three and has never traveled before. How do you do it? What advice do you have for keeping them calm on a plane? How do you stay sane?” – Anonymous

Vacations change when you have kids. There’s more to plan, more to pack and more joy to have. Especially with a three-year-old!

We took our son, Jackson, on vacation for the first time when he was eight months old. It was a disaster. We forgot to pack backup clothes, and he peed out of his diaper before we even got on the plane. We rushed around Denver International Airport, trying to find dry clothes to buy. We finally found a onesie for the 12-month age, and Jackson was swimming in it.

Better than him being naked, I suppose!

I’ve written extensively about our travels because there’s always something that goes awry or something that is so memorable. The first thing to expect is to expect the unexpected. Always travel with an extra set of clothing. Even for a three-year-old, you never know what could happen – spilled juice, jumping in a puddle or worse, an upset tummy. You’ll be glad to have backups should you need them.

Second, travel with gallon Ziploc bags and several folded-up paper towels. Should you have to change your little one, the Ziploc bags will hold dirty clothes and contain the mess. This tactic should be employed with everything you do as a parent. Are you going to the zoo? Pack a Ziploc. Are you taking a quick hike for the day? Pack a Ziploc. Are you going to the park? Pack a Ziploc. They come in so handy. 

We have taken several trips to the zoo, but on a recent trip, we got Jackson an ice cream cone that came into the car with us. He decided he was done with the half-eaten cone. I didn’t want the rest of it, couldn’t throw it out the window, because, you know, litter. So, it went in the spare Ziploc, along with the baby wipes I used to clean his sticky fingers. You never know when you’ll need something to contain a mess, so be prepared!

Lastly, try to stick to some sort of schedule of normalcy for the first day or two. Kids have a ton of energy but can get worn out quickly with the newness of travel. Don’t jump in with both feet on your first day. Take some time to be quiet, watch familiar shows, read familiar books and do some light exploration. The last thing you want is a cranky child having a meltdown in a foreign environment.

Kids are resilient, but they have their limitations. Take it easy and enjoy your vacation. My favorite lessons are written about in this piece

I’ll be here every month to answer any questions you have and to offer my advice. You can send me a Direct Message (DM) through Twitter or click here to submit your inquiry. I look forward to connecting with all of my readers!

Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more motherly and fantasy sports advice @JenPolvogt.

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