Showing off precious little ones to relatives is one of the greatest pleasures of any parent. Cuddles, laughter, and making wonderful memories is a joy we treasure.
However for mom and dad, trying to keep their little ones happy in a different environment, whilst respecting their relatives’ home, can lead to higher stress levels than normal. So, after many-a-stay with well-meaning relatives, the team at DockATot have pulled together some of their best tips for you in an attempt to make your life a little easier.
If you get a break that’s a bonus
Some relatives are flexible with their routines, and some stick to them rigidly. To avoid any stress or disappointment on your part, don’t expect it all to run smoothly.
It can be tempting to think of all those extra hands that will help with the kids. You may dream of sitting on a sofa for more than 5 minutes, having an adult conversation, and even enjoying a truly hot cup of coffee!
It's likely you will be able to enjoy some down time, but don’t be too disappointed if you have relatives who don’t have a clue how to get involved with the kids. If you expect to do the same amount of running around as if you were at home, then any respite you do get will be a huge treat.
Plan outdoor activities ahead of time
We all know that getting outdoors with your child is a sure fire way to tire them out.
Setting the expectation for the people you're staying with that certain activities are planned will make you feel a whole lot more at ease knowing you’ll be able to entertain the children. It also reduces the indecision and perhaps disagreements that come with trying to decide what to do while you're already there.
This also helps if your relative’s house is not very child friendly. Once the kids are tired out from a good long walk or play in the park, they'll be nice and calm when they get home. Then they'll be ready for some...
The busyness and stimulation of staying with relatives can be overwhelming for some small children. Give them (and you!) a chance to relax and recharge by scheduling in some chill time. Your little one's dock is the perfect place for them to chill - somewhere comfortable and familiar, where they're used to having down time. This is especially handy for toddlers and preschoolers who may have outgrown their naps.
Let your usual routine relax a little
You may have spent a lot of time and energy getting your children into a smooth daily routine.
However, put baby in a new environment, and add in well-meaning relatives, they are likely to behave completely differently, and all routines will disappear.
Be prepared to just go with the flow, even if this makes more work for you. Letting go can be difficult for parents and it can be easy to think that all your hard work is ruined, but remember it is only short term. Children slot right back into their routines when they get back home, and you’ll find they may even sleep better, as they'll be totally wiped out from all the fun!
Any meal time discipline will also disappear
If you're a parent who is extremely strict with mealtimes, or careful about your child’s diet, your anxiety is likely to go through the roof when inevitably things get out of control.
Grandparents are notorious for sneakily dishing out treats, and with so many distractions, children are much less likely to eat at their usual times, or even eat at all!
This is hard if you have high expectations, so again, it is best to remember it is not forever, and things will go back to normal soon. Plus, your little ones will be having a great time!
Make sure that you bring as many snacks as you can, or better yet, ask your relatives to stock-up before you arrive.
Packing with ease
You'll get used to packing for your child the more you do it, but a key tip here is to have certain bags dedicated to carrying specific items. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of what you have and reduces the risk of losing anything. For example, when travelling with your dock you'll have your dedicated tote, which also contains ample space for your baby’s changing accessories. Then you can have a bag for clothes and toys, and perhaps another for food.
Remember to keep track of your baby’s belongings for the duration of your stay. The last thing you want is for you to leave behind a beloved toy or pacifier!
Take lots of photos
Capture as many precious moments as you can, then share your photos with your relatives. Tell them how much you and your children enjoyed the stay and arrange to do it again.
It's inevitable that tensions will rise when staying with family, but all that is forgotten when everyone can look back at all the cute and funny times. Those are the times that really matter, and those are the memories that last.