Its time for the Sunday Parenting Party. Please link up your parenting related posts, these are anecdotes, experiences, tips and tricks or cries for help, anything specifically related to being a parent and raising kids. Please don't link up kids activity and craft posts. These can be linked to Kids Co-op.
Last week we went on holiday to Centre Parcs. On day one Goblin's behaviour could only be described as seriously [insert expletive] obnoxious. Every single thing we did resulted in mega meltdowns and screaming tantrums. In fact they were tantrums the likes of which Hublet and I had not seen before - angry and ferocious. We did our best to keep our cool but by the end of the day Goblin was seriously busting our holiday buzz and we needed a plan B.
In order to try and get through the rest of the week I did an urgent assessment of what was going on in his little head and I concluded the following:
While we don't have a routine as such, we do have a rhythm to our week - Hublet has him Monday and Tuesday and they have quiet days of fort building and lego constructing. He sees his friends on Wednesday at Nursery and on Thursday and Friday Goblin and I have playdates and go out a lot. At the weekend Hublet and I tag teaming. So its not a rigid plan but it has a pace and a recognisable beat.
The Christmas holidays disrupted that rhythm and I think they confused Goblin with all the travelling and seeing relatives, as well as not seeing his friends. Plus he hasn't been well. He has had one cold after another since the middle of November and he is pretty run down. This means that he is abnormally tired.
In addition we are starting Goblin at a new nursery this term and joining some clubs so the week before our holiday he had a lot of introductions to new things - and was "abandoned" at the new nursery. So he was probably feeling anxious about whether we would leave him alone.
Understanding the cause of his anxiety and therefore his behaviour didn't really make it any easier to handle. So I set about trying to work out a strategy to minimise the fall out (as we weren't going to just pack it in and go home). I wanted to reduce the fear of the unknown so I started by making a chart of our activities for the week so he'd know what was happening each day.
The pictures are a bit crappy but Goblin got the idea - and no he doesn't only sleep on two nights of the holiday! - those are nights when we booked a babysitter and Hublet and I went out for a meal.
As well as having a pictorial illustration of what our week would look like I tried to ensure we didn't have too many things on. I had envisaged packing loads in, but with his insta-meltdowns it seemed easiest to avoid flash points like trying to hurry him from one thing to another. So we kept it minimal with only a couple of activities a day and lots of mooching around, cycling or exploring.
I also decided to try and create a bit of rhythm to our week. So we stuck to a similar waking and bedtime routine. And did the same activity every afternoon - swimming which Goblin loves.
I know when people are on holiday there is a temptation to let the kids stay up late and take them to restaurants and stuff. I had thought we'd do that with the boy, but Goblin was already destabilised by being in unfamiliar surroundings. It was obvious that late nights wouldn't do him any favours. So at 6.30pm every night we wound down, read a book and tuck Goblin into bed.
The plan did work to a certain extent. The explosive tantrums lessened and he became a bit more secure. We certainly enjoyed our time away but by the end of the week he wasn't the only one ready to go home. Its something that they don't seem to mention in the parenting books - A holiday with a small person isn't really a holiday, its just parenting stress moved to somewhere different with your usual fall backs and safety nets removed.