Spring break is here and traveling with little ones can be difficult. Why not alleviate some of the stress of travel by planning ahead and setting expectations while you're away?
Don't despair if your trip is less than perfect. Remember, we all have good days and bad days, and being out of our environment can cause some of us to have tantrums, or be less than agreeable. It's important to keep your cool, even in these stressful situations.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your vacation more enjoyable for everyone:
Daily and Bedtime Routines Always stick to your routine, even when you're away. Vacation is exactly the time when our kids need boundaries and limits. Keeping your regular routine will help them feel safe and secure, which will in turn keep them happy and more cooperative.
So, every morning, set their expectations for what the day(s) ahead will look like: playtime, quiet time, bedtime, etc. It's ok to be flexible with timing of everything, just try to stick to your normal routine as close as possible. Be mindful that everyone is out of their regular environment. so remember to be kind and firm, while also being flexible.
Set expectations Chat with your kids about any guidelines and what's expected while on vacation.
Let them know BEFORE pool or beach time that they will only be swimming when sunscreen is on.
Remind them that it is applied before you leave the hotel room, again after lunch, and any other time that Mommy and Daddy tell them.
Fun tip for toddlers: pretend the sunscreen is facepaint and ask them what kind of animal or character they want to be while you “paint” the sunscreen on.
Walk them from their bed to the bathroom BEFORE they go to sleep so they know what to do when/if they wake up in the middle of the night.
Discuss the day’s plans and include choices to give them a sense of control.
“This morning we are going to play at the beach and then go to the nature museum. After lunch, we will have time to either go for a bike ride or swim at the pool, you decide.”
By giving choices, you are building your child's self esteem and fostering independence, and keeping everyone happy and cooperative at the same time.
Calm Down Space Wherever you are, create a positive calm down space. Maybe it is a pillow in a corner, or even the bed, but designate it immediately upon arrival. Give your child his own spot to reset when big emotions start to bubble over.
Sibling bickering doesn't stop while you are on vacation. This gives you an opportunity to help them navigate their big feelings instead of trying to stop them.
Melt down at the pool? Wrap them up in a towel, pull them onto the chaise lounge and lower YOUR voice while you validate feelings and address the likely cause (hunger, overtired, overstimulated). Once they're settled, it's time to order yourself a cocktail!
Have a Chat Talk to your children at dinner or before going to sleep about all the fun things they experienced that day, regardless of their age. If your child is too young to communicate all the fun things (and not so fun things), help them out by retelling the day. This will help create sweet memories that they will always remember, while building communication skills. You can also talk about the NOT so fun stuff, too. This helps them process and bring closure when you say things like “and then you were comforted by Grandma” or “and then you got
boo boo ice and felt much better.”
Enjoy Family Vacation
Don’t forget to have fun yourself! Play together, relax, and remember that every experience (even the challenging ones!) create lots of wonderful memories for you and your family.
For more information about your family's sleep or behavior challenges, reach out at any time. Sweet Dreams! 😴👶