While travelling with your children may not be the most relaxing trip, it is one of the best bonding activities you can do, after all holidays and travel are what family memories are made of.
There is never a right age to travel with your children, just remember this key tip: nothing ventured, nothing gained. While long-haul car trips and flights can prove challenging with some organisation and pre-planning you can ensure that the whole family comes home with enjoyable memories.
Dr Anna Cohen, leading clinical Psychologist from Kids & Co. provides her top tips for making the most of going on holidays with your family.
• Prepare. Preparing for the worst is an essential, plan for a grumpy, bored child by allowing lots of time, packing extra outfits, plenty of snacks and being ready for a tantrum. Having a few back-up things on hand for your kids to do such as coloring or sticker books can also be particularly helpful when the boredom hits. While preparation is key, don’t let the stress of organising overwhelm you before even leaving the house, just remember that there are memories to be made and fun times ahead. Consider family friendly accommodation that offers activities for the whole family and remember you don’t need elaborate day-long plans, simple things count such as family sport, a swim or a walk.
• Set realistic expectations. While you may not be able to do everything you would without kids, you can still manage to do a few things you wanted to, just know that it might take twice as long. Creating realistic expectations of how much your children will be able to do will help avoid mid-walk tantrums and frustration. While it may take twice as long to get to your end destination, it will be twice as special because you are creating the memories with your children.
• Try stick to routine. Children will adapt to their new surroundings however, having some normal routine will keep them feeling in control and safe. If you are flying, help them feel comfortable by running through their normal bedtime routine, where possible at the usual time. When you are at your destination, this can be as simple as having a regular dinner, bath, story and bedtime.
• Ditch the screens. During travel times, devices can be a lifesaver and it is likely that to keep your children happy and entertained a few movies will be needed. However when you arrive lose the screens – and that applies to both children and the adults – an absence of screens will mean a much-needed switch off period and the chance to experience a new adventure together and in the moment!
• Travel journal. If your children are old enough, encourage them to draw and write about their adventures. This will serve not only as a record of what they have seen and learnt, it will provide some important downtime for parents and children at the end of busy, activity filled day.
Travelling is beneficial for children from any age, as it gives them the opportunity to better understand the world around them, and meet new people from different places, backgrounds and cultures. Even if your children are too young to remember every aspect of the trip, they will remember something and will benefit from that. Remember with some creative thinking, pre-planning and a level of acceptance the whole family will enjoy a holiday, tantrums and all.
For more information or professional advice contact Sydney’s leading Child Clinical Psychologist, Dr Anna Cohen at Kids & Co. – www.kidsandco.com.au
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