With the holidays approaching, many of us are preparing for the trek to visit family. These adventures can be fun, but they can also trigger meltdowns and other less-than-ideal behaviors in your child. Here are five things you can do to make family travel more enjoyable for everyone.
Keep Them in the Loop
Share your itinerary with your child so they know what to expect. If you will be traveling in a way that is unfamiliar, give a quick blow-by- blow in advance. For example, if you’ll be flying, describe what happens once you’re at the airport, and what the plane will be like. You can also relay relevant details about where you will be staying and your general plans. This will help them prepare emotionally for what’s ahead.
Remember the “Luvvy”
Whether your child is an infant or fifteen years old, they probably have something that calms them. Whether it’s a shredded blankie or a well-worn pair of slippers, bringing that item along on your trip can have a calming effect on your child when they are out of their element.
It’s not always easy to make yourself at home when you’re bouncing from house to house. If you find your child is more needy than usual, give them a bit of a break. Don’t just shove them into a room full of cousins they barely know. Stick with them for a while and help them get acclimated before you head back to the adults.
Try to Stick to a Routine
Because being away from their regular routine can make children feel off kilter, try to keep some semblance of a schedule, like sticking to their regular bedtime, breakfast time, or nightly bath. There’s no need to be rigid about it – unless your child requires it – because you want your child to learn to be flexible, but keeping a couple things on schedule can make travel less unsettling than if your whole schedule goes out the window.
Let Them Have a Say
Rather than dictating every event and activity, let your child have a say in what you do. There are obviously non-negotiables, like the holiday dinner at Nana’s or family caroling, but if there is time in between the obligations, let them select an activity, like ice skating or a visit to a local indoor climbing wall. Just a little bit of a sense of control can go a long way.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy this festive time!