In addition to the warming temps and new growth that comes with Spring, this time of year also usually brings a holiday break or a vacation from school, work and the normal routine. It’s a welcomed opportunity for parents and kids to step away from the daily grind to (hopefully!) get some sun, some extra rest and relaxation and more quality time with friends and loved ones. Relief from the everyday rigmarole also provides an opportunity to get perspective on “life,” think about what is and isn’t working for you and your family on a daily basis and potentially set some new goals to start tackling when you get home.
Maybe you’ve been putting off potty training or other “growing up” transitions for your toddler. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to get your child started with a few household chores, or maybe your morning routine has been disastrous and you’re wanting to make some adjustments. Whatever the case may be, post-vacation is the perfect time to press the restart button and begin tackling your latest parenting challenges when you get back home.
- You’re already out of routine while on a break/vacation: Your child has likely been sleeping in a new or different place, maybe your nap or bedtime schedule has been off and perhaps you had to adjust to a time change.
- Coming home means you will already be re-establishing your routine and getting your child re-acclimated to being back home so it’s an ideal time to add or change a few things.
- Your child may be more flexible and open to adjustments since he had to learn to be adaptable during your vacation.
- Your child has had lots of quality time with you during break which will hopefully mean you are both feeling more connected. This connection makes it easier for your child to accept changes when you get home, knowing you will be there to support him through it.
- The idea of a new or fresh start is tangible even to a young child simply by returning home. This is an opportunity to say “Now that we are home, we are going to begin trying a few new things!”
- You are feeling more refreshed, patient and enthusiastic about starting anew after a break, so your ability to stay consistent and you willingness to carry through and reach your goals will be stronger.
How To Make It Work
- Find some time during your break to communicate with your partner about the things that feel challenging, or the changes you’d like to make when you get home and ask your partner to share his/her ideas as well.
- Identify 1-3 things to start working on (any more may end up a bit too overwhelming for you and your child.) If you want to tackle a big change like potty training or sleep training, then make that the ONLY change as a milestone like that comes with a lot of feelings and deserves to have 100% of your attention.
- Research, purchase or prepare anything you may need to have in your possession before you get home so that you will be ready right away. Need a bed rail? A floor potty? Need to make a chore or routine chart or read a book about sleep? Try to do those thing while you are away or order them online and ship them home so you can get started as soon as possible.
- If you want to start a new rule such as limiting screen time or having your child stay at the dinner table until everyone is finished eating, then be sure you and your partner agree on important factors such as the length of time, limitations, consequences, etc. so that you are consistent in your messaging.
Tell Your Child The Plan
- Once you’ve decided what your new goals will be, communicate with your child/children the day before you head home. You can begin talking about how nice it will be to get back and walk your child through all the “normal” things that will occur in his schedule. “You’ll get to sleep in your own room, play will all your toys and go back to school…”
- Then you can introduce the changes “And guess what?! Starting Monday, you get to start doing a few chores to earn an allowance!” Or “We are going to go shopping for Big Girl underwear!” Be sure you are excited & enthusiastic about the change, as your attitude about the changes will set the tone for your child.
- If your child is older, give him some choices or ask for his input so that he feels like he is a part of the new endeavor. If you are making a change like limiting screen time, let him ask questions and come up with an agreed upon time limit. If you are starting new chores, make your chore chart together. Allowing him to be a part of the goal setting will help him feel more in control and will improve the outcome.
- No matter what age your child is, it’s important that you stay in tune to your child’s reaction & feelings about the new routine and work with him to identify emotions. You can even say things like “It may be hard at first” or “changes can feel scary” and assure your child that you will help him
Pressing the restart button after vacation is the perfect way to move forward and tackle those parenting milestones and challenges. A renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for change will help you support your child through your new routine. It may be a bit bumpy in the beginning as everyone adjusts to the changes but ultimately, you will be happy you took the time to think ahead while you were gone.