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Routine on Holiday
As a first time parent I was quite petrified when we went on our first long distance family holiday. As much as I was looking forward to proudly showing off my 14 month old, I was very concerned about how Cameron would handle the change in environment, how he would cope being cooped up in a car for six hours while we travelled to Durban, and how his routine would be affected.
Being the control freak that I am, I wanted everything to be just perfect, and if I were to be perfectly honest with myself, I wasn't sure how I was going to cope if Cameron's routine went pear-shaped.
Miles and I decided that to make the journey to Durban less stressful for all, we would make two pit stops, and we accepted that it would probably mean an extra hour of travelling.
We decided to make the trip part of our holiday, so during the pit stops I changed Cameron's nappy, fed him as we timed the stops to coincide with his feeds, and we let him waddle around. I made sure I had snacks for Cameron to eat while we traveled and I didn't stress if he slept during his awake time and was awake when he was supposed to sleep. I also bought him some new toys that I gave him in the car and which I allowed him to play with only in the car, so it was something for him to look forward to when we travelled. During our pit stops we also alternated which side of the car Cameron sat on so he got a change of scenery and we also limited the possibility that the seat belt wasn't pressing on the same side of his body for too long.
Because his day was topsy turvy and in order to instill security and familiarity for him once we arrived at our destination, I made sure his nighttime routine remained the same - whatever I did back home I recreated in the room he was sleeping in.
For example I closed the curtains, I gave him his dummy, I repeated his name and sleepy time word, eg., dudu's, and I loved and kissed him goodnight, and because what I was doing was so familiar to him, he felt secure and sleeping wasn't an issue.
Being on holiday means missing out on naps, having shorter naps, late bedtimes and sometimes too many sweets, but that's what holidays are all about - flexibility, and if a baby is on an age appropriate day time routine, his routine will be flexible enough to bounce back.
Don't stress if things don't go according to plan, just sit back, relax and accept that this is what being on holiday means - no strict routine. Having said this, you must remember that you are still dealing with a baby so in all fairness to them, you need to meet them half way.
So, for example, for the first two days that we were on holiday Cameron didn't get a chance to have his two daytime naps as we were so busy. As we expected, come the late afternoon he was tired and miserable, so we put him to bed a bit earlier than normal and we agreed that to allow him to catch up on his sleep, the next day we would make sure we were home in time for him to have his two naps. It wasn't ideal but because Cameron was well rested, when he woke up he was content and was therefore a pleasure to be with.
Sometimes pushing a baby too often to stay awake for longer than they can cope with makes matters worse because they become overstimulated, so they will be miserable and no one will have a good time. It is therefore important to always assess your baby and the situation and based on the facts, do what is necessary for your baby and your family.
If you are going out over your baby's nap time, try and put them down for their nap but don't stress if they only cat nap. Take them out and allow them to join in the fun and just be aware that you may need to put them down a bit earlier for their next nap.
The same applies to feeding. If they don't finish a feed because there is too much activity around, remove your baby from the stimulation and take them to a quiet place and try to feed them. If that doesn't work don't stress - babies are not born inherently anorexic so they won't starve to death, it just means they may want to eat a bit more later.
Generally parents like to have their children in bed by no later than 7.30pm so that they can have adult time, so no matter how topsy turvy the day was, if you fall back to your bedtime routine and you are dealing with a healthy baby, then there is no reason why your child won't sleep.
If your child is sharing a room with another child, don't be surprised if you hear noises coming from the bedroom. Some babies will laugh and gurgle at each other, while the older children may throw pillows at each other. Before barging in and giving them a talking to, cast your mind back to when you were a child and were staying over at a friend's house! Be a bit lenient and give them their time to be children, but at the same time you must have a cut off time.
Most of all…
Enjoy your holiday and the precious time with your children. Laugh, smile and become a child again. Go with the flow, live in the moment and when back at home you can instill your daily routine again.
Travel safely. Jacqui
Jacqui is the owner of Baby Love, a countrywide company specializing in routine and sleep (or lack thereof) for babies of two years old and younger. For more info on Baby Love call Jacqui, 082-851-2141 or visit www.baby-love.co.za and keep an eye out for the expansion of Baby Love - Toddler Love, specializing in routine, sleep and discipline for two to four years of age.
Reproduced by kind permission of United Pharmaceutical Distributors (UPD) and the Link pharmacy group. For more information E-mail the editor Laura Evans at or for a copy of the magazine please visit your local Link pharmacy.