How to Make your Family Holiday Travel Joyful instead of Woeful
Extended families want to be together during the holiday season. This inevitably means that some part of the family will need to travel to spend the season with their loved ones. As an adult, preparing for the holidays, planning the meals, planning the trip, packing and getting to your destination can be stressful. What parents sometimes overlook is the impact that this travel can have on their children. Whether it is a reaction to your additional stress, the change in their schedule or diet, the holidays are ripe with opportunities for children to exhibit bad behavior. Here are some tips to help get you through you trip in one piece and still speaking to each other:
- Be realistic – As a parent, you need to realize that the trip is not going to be perfect. There will be some bumps either minor or major along the way. Try and stay calm when these occur so that your emotions aren’t transferred over to your children. Make light of the situation if possible. Try and turn it into a game or an opportunity for the family to offer solutions to the issue.
- Set expectations – Prior to your trip, talk to your child about what you will be doing. Go into detail about the trip, where you will be staying, as well as any special dinners or events that they will be participating in. Make sure that they also know what you are expecting of them. Whether it is to wear fancy clothes, eat with “the good china”, or go out to an event, let them know how they should behave. If time allows, practice their behavior in specific situations. When children are placed into an unknown environment, they have a tendency to act out as a defense mechanism.
- Don’t overschedule – You may be asked to participate in a lot of events during your trip. Before committing to all of them, make sure that you have allotted time for your child to “just be a child”. Before committing to an event, take into account when the event will take place. Is it scheduled during your child’s nap or after their bedtime? Think about how that change in your child’s routine will impact their behavior and overall well-being. If there is a conflict, suggest an alternative time or day that would work better for you and your family. If that doesn’t work, take the opportunity to do something with your child on your own.
- Keep on a schedule – Your child’s normal routine is scheduled. Whether at day care, school or home, there are times set up for eating, playing and sleeping. Try and keep to this schedule during your trip as much as possible. By continuing your child’s routine, you can keep them calm and at ease since they know when things will happen. As part of the schedule, try and keep your child’s diet as normal as possible. Bring some comfort foods from home so that you can have their favorites on hand. A change in their diet, especially an increase in the sugary, rich foods served during the holidays, can have an impact on your child’s behavior and emotions.
These tips should help you reduce your family’s stress and anxiety during the holidays. Children want to make their parents happy and proud of them. You as a parent, need to give them as many tools as possible to succeed in achieving that goal during the holidays and throughout their lifetime.
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