As the holiday season approaches, so do promises of cozy autumn outings and festive family gatherings. The excitement that surrounds the transition into an eventful season can be magical for your child. Despite all of the fun they have to look forward to, jam-packed schedules can result in exhaustion and your child’s mental health may become overwhelmed. This is especially so if your holiday season plans involve as much traveling as they do fun!
Traveling with children can be a challenge. As your child’s routine becomes continuously interrupted throughout the season due to vacations, events, or breaks from school, this challenge will only intensify. Being mindful of ways to manage your child’s mental health throughout this time will help to keep them balanced.
Bring a Customized Tool Kit
Every child is different. For this reason, what will provide mental health relief for one child may not be the best fit for yours! Thankfully, you know your child well and can build a travel-friendly kit full of management tools tailored to their needs.
If your child faces general stress, having soothing or uplifting music on hand may be useful. Portable games may also be useful in providing a distraction. If your child has sensory concerns, packing noise-canceling headphones or fidget tools will provide a quick solution for when traveling becomes too overwhelming. Should your child tend to shut down or act out when they’re feeling hungry, make sure to pack plenty of their favorite snacks for moments when traveling throws their eating schedule off?
You can certainly fit in all of the holiday excitement and have a little time for your child to decompress from the hectic moving around. Having some quiet time to just chill out will be vital to balancing your child’s mental health.
If you have holiday travel spaced apart, make sure to dedicate a day or two following one trip for your child to focus on relaxation. If they aren’t one to completely give into a lazy day, plan to do something low-stress like a long nature walk or watching a movie as a family.
Find moments during your travel to let your child have time away from the excitement. If you’re driving long distance, don’t let the allure of saving time by traveling straight through pull you in! Aim to take more breaks than you think you’ll need just to allow your child to stretch and have time outside of the car. If you’re flying, bring a travel pillow and blanket so that your child can take a nap during layovers or while waiting for a late flight. Once you’ve reached your destination and are submerged in all the family festivities, find moments throughout the gathering to let your child have some alone time. While everyone is cleaning up from the holiday meal, for example, your child can have some quiet time in an empty part of the house.
Switch up the Accommodations
If you’re not staying with family this holiday season, don’t book your hotel just yet. Familiarity can be helpful while guiding your child in managing their mental health while balancing a new schedule. Hotels can place emphasis on the feeling of being uprooted, which may prevent your child from feeling comfortable in their space.
Opting for an apartment or home rental will allow your child to adjust to their routine while traveling. This will provide them with a space that looks and feels like what they have normally. Additionally, having access to a kitchen area will make cooking familiar family meals more accessible. Eating out is a treat, but doing it for every meal can completely detach your child from their sense of routine, opening them to stress. Being able to cook comforting meals they love will sustain familiarity.
Another great benefit of putting an apartment or house rental into your traveling plans is having a safe place to retreat to. If you’re spending time with family during the holiday, you may find that they have vastly different schedules or ideas of what the holiday should look like. With a comfortable place to turn to, you won’t have to feel obligated to keep up with their schedule, especially if you find it to be detrimental to your child’s emotional and physical health.
Focus on Gratitude
The holiday season, as hectic as it may be, is about spending time with the ones you love and making memories. As the excitement begins to wear away at your child’s mental health, it will become easier for them to get stuck in a negative mindset. Negativity can snowball, preventing them from being able to balance out their discomfort. Keep your child engaged in positive conversation throughout your holiday experience. Be mindful of when your child is experiencing some negative emotions and coach them through this. Draw their attention to all of the wonderful things they have to look forward to, helping them be more appreciative.