Oh goodness you love them … in your mind this is going to be such a wonderful vacation visiting family… but hang on – you have little ones now! How does this work, spending quality time with family while also helping your children thrive in a new environment! Going and staying with family doesn’t need to be as stressful as it seemed when you first thought about the logistics.
I am a complete social butterfly, I love doing tasks with family while we prepare the BBQ or the turkey. So the idea of missing out on something fun is hard for me to grapple with. But the reality is, that my little one can’t ‘holiday’ at the same pace I can. She still needs her sleep and often all the people made her even more tired… I’m sure you’re nodding along if you’ve been in this situation! I learnt this the hard way the first time we went away, letting her “nap when ever and where ever” and it ended in a complete newborn meltdown for the evening!
I know this sounds boring, but if you want your children to be happy and engaged with everything going on, then they need their sleep. Going to bed half an hour later once or twice isn’t a big deal but consistently loosing sleep will mean they cannot function well. It then brings their social skills and ability to cope DOWN and their clinginess and moaning UP! By keeping this routine you’ll have amazing time together and then while kids have nap time then adults are able to have engaging conversation or a game that wouldn’t happen with little fingers in the mix. BUT HOW!?!? Here’s how:
Talk through what your child needs with the person hosting you or creating the schedule.
Generally, there is often one ‘organizer’ of the group, most likely the host, and if you can get them on your team understanding what your child needs ahead of time, they can plan for it. When they understand your baby needs to nap from 1-3pm then they don’t schedule a sleigh ride then, they choose the later option. Friends and Family want to be as helpful as possible to those with children, but frequently the reality is that they are not in the same stage of life and forget what the needs are at the stage you’re in. This isn’t because they don’t care – it’s because they don’t know or have forgotten over the years, so have the conversation!
Create space in your schedule and environment.
It is so hard for a child when they are constantly being called, engaged with, and played with. It is even exhausting for a newborn to be held by people consistently. You can run interference for your child by making sure they are set up to thrive. Although an 8-day sleep over with cousins may be a great idea, suggest once or twice instead, so your child has space to get a good night sleep.
Create space for down time activities during the day. Children have the most wonderful imagination and on vacations their minds can run wild! So let them! This calm and unstructured play will ensure they aren’t over stimulated.
Prevent over-tiredness and over-stimulation
Over-tiredness can look like either a cranky baby or it can look like a hyper baby. Some kids look completely content when they are overtired, however, when it comes to sleep they can’t get to sleep because they’re past the point of tiredness.
To protect your child’s well being, be okay with telling people around you what your child needs – you are your child’s advocate! So, if your child needs to be left for 5 – 10 minutes to calm down in bed then let others know they need to give your child space. If you need their help putting baby to bed, then you’ll ask!
By allowing others to dominate your child’s routine and patterns, it creates uncertainty in their world. So much is different while traveling that it is important to keep as much consistent as possible so they can engage fully in the moments this opportunity brings them!
Make this new pace of the ebs and flow of naps and bedtimes work to your advantage. Use the time for you to have meaningful conversations and quality time in a way where you enjoy yourself too! Holiday’s are for everyone to enjoy, and this way you can have your pie and eat it too!