On vacation with kids

Children value rhythm in their lives. A recurring rhythm throughout the day and week. On vacation, most of this rhythm goes away. Days of vacation preps where moms and dads are busy and cannot have their full attention on their kids. Followed by a vacation trip that ends at a destination where everything is different. Environment, people, language, food, and (sometimes) the temperature.

And the rhythm is gone…

It is amazing how children adapt to this different situation. When we think about it, it is not so strange. There is a relaxed atmosphere, there is much to see, and often quite a lot to do. Bedtimes are more flexible. When the end of the vacation comes into sight, it all needs to change back to normal daily life. And then suddenly the children do respond (in behavior). Crazy as it seems, because now they are back in their own familiar surroundings, with a rhythm that is so familiar to them. 

But we cannot expect anything else from these little ones. In their heads, they cannot yet think ahead, and prepare themselves, just like we can. Suddenly they are back in the busy life of their parents, everything has to be done. The transition to vacation, rest and relaxation, is easier than the other way around. Prepare for that. Or by already living the last few days on vacation a little more to the time and rhythm of home. Or by being aware that your child needs a little longer to adjust back home than you do…

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  • For a baby: bring his blanket from home; a familiar scent at bedtime is soothing.
  • Just before you are going on vacation: do not make changes such as taking away a pacifier and phasing out breastfeeding. It is these fixed things that help a baby to feel comfortable in a new place.
  • Buy some small toys/books for the children, just something different from home gives a lot of fun.
  • Hang pictures on the fridge or on the wall of your destination two weeks in advance. Look at them regularly together.
  • Consider in advance how you want to deal with rhythms, such as eating and sleeping times. Experimenting at the destination will cause restlessness.
  • Do you really want to please your children in terms of vacation destination? Then go to the same place a few years in a row. Children find it reassuring to know where they will end up. It also gives a lot of fun beforehand.
  • And…take plenty of time to pack and travel. Hurrying and stressing is not nice for yourself and for your kids.

Enjoy your vacation!

Want to know everything about your baby’s mental development and find out how you can stimulate this? Download The Wonder Weeks app or buy the book.

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