You have safely arrived at your destination. All of you are weary from the trip. Hugs and kisses from family members all around and then you settle into the routine. Oh, wait! There is no routine! What do you do now?
Children depend on routines for many reasons. Routines make them feel safe and help them understand “what comes next.” During times of celebration and travel, our regular routines are often disrupted and our children may seem cranky or uncooperative. Here are some ideas that may help keep your child’s emotions in balance.
- Structure the day just as you do at home: eat, play, rest. Your child needs both active and quiet times. He needs time with the extended family and friends, and perhaps some quiet time alone or with you.
- Do your best to keep meal times and bedtime for your child as close to normal as possible. He’s not going to want to miss the action, but help him accept the limits that you have set.
- Remember to bring along favorite stories or comfort items to help your child “wind down.” The younger your child, the more support he/she will need to relax and sleep.
- Mealtime should not become a battleground. Encourage your child to try new foods and teach him to say “No, thank you” if he doesn’t want to try something. A new food may be as simple as Auntie’s recipe of his favorite casserole, so he doesn’t recognize it.
- Sugary treats should not take the place of meals. It’s amazing how one “small piece” of fudge can ruin a child’s appetite.
- Set limits on TV or video games, just as you do at home. “Twenty minutes of video games with your cousin, then the TV goes off.” Be sure and set a timer for yourself so that you can reinforce your own rules.
Make time for your child to get outdoors. A half-hour at the park with you or a brisk walk around the block together will make both of you feel better. Just bundle up and head outside for some fun in the leaves or the snow. Your child may even take a good rest in the afternoon so you can have a cup of tea with Grandma. Ah…