Holidaying with children is a new adjustment to make. It can be daunting and a lot different than just going on holiday as a couple but it's a step you can take with ease. It is a completely different experience. The fine balance between meeting your needs as an adult with the needs of your children is hard enough even when you're at home with all of the props, support and familiarity that brings. On holiday in a new place without this infrastructure, it can feel even harder. But, family holidays are the things that memories are made of, moments of sheer pleasure in being together and a chance to regroup as a family. Starting to holiday together when your child is young will mean that they learn about travel, culture and being in new places with different routines from an early age. This ultimately helps to make them more adaptable in their everyday life.
Here are my top five tips for a stress free holiday:
- Make the journey to the airport exciting for the child, so that their expectations of the trip are increased and they're able to adjust to the new environment quickly. Giving them a toy associated with the plane journey like the VTech play & learn aeroplane will get them comfortable with the plane and allow for a less stressful journey.
- Enjoyment of holidays has a great deal to do with expectations, so, before you head off into the sun chat with your partner about what you want to get out of the holiday. Help each other to have realistic expectations and let go of the idea that it needs to be perfect. Yes there will be 'hot' (i.e. irritable) moments, arguments and stress, but expecting these and accepting they won't spoil the holiday is the first step.
- Children pick up on adult anxiety and stress very quickly - if you can manage your anxiety then they are far more likely to manage theirs. To help you with yours, write lists of what you need to get ready and pack. Share this task with your partner so that one of you doesn't hold the entire burden. Always leave far more time to get things done than you first think you'll need.
- It will take at least a couple of days to settle into the holiday. If you're a parent who ordinarily works full-time, it will feel unusual to be with your child all day long to start off with, but give it time and it will soon start to feel fun.
- Have a few activities/trips in mind, but make sure that you also leave time to just be together as a family as this is often missing from hectic family life. Make sure you both have some alone time planned too as this will help keep your batteries charged.
Remember, holidaying is a journey as well as a destination. It starts from the moment you leave your door. Use this opportunity to do things differently, not get so worried about stuff, swap roles with your partner, play new games, and find out about new things. See things from your child's eyes and enjoy the wonder of being in a new place.
Dr Angharad Rudkin is VTech's Child Psychologist - keep checking back for her next column exclusive to Female First!
Tagged in Parenting