A.H. asks from San Jose, CA on November 18, 2008
Family Visits Are Not Toddler Friendly
Ok - I figure I can't be the only one in this boat - hopefully some of you have advice. The holidays are approaching and we are getting pressured to travel to see our families!
My 2 year old son is the only person in the family under the age of 25. (on both sides) We live a plane ride away from everyone so visiting is a multi-day commitment that involves people taking time off of work or whatever.
Being that everyone is on vacation, nobody is interested in taking it easy or staying close to home. There are usually multiple day trips planned that involve driving long distances to go shopping, wine tasting, antiquing, etc. My son's nap schedule and need to run around and blow off steam are not compatible with this type of plan - and no matter how much we try to explain there seems to be the misconception that we can flexible about these things. If I don't compromise on his needs I am accused of making unreasonable demands, if I offer to stay behind with him I am accused of being a martyr and then everyone stays home and sulks all day.
On top of that, we are EXPECTED to stay at someone's unchildproofed house which is a nightmare for us. My son is easily bored and no matter how much we try to keep him entertained he eventually begins to insist on wandering into inappropriate areas of the house. After so many times of being told no he has a complete meltdown. When we are not traveling we generally have to limit our visits to other people's homes to around an hour to avoid this problem.
I'm hoping to get through this time without ruining relationships with our families but I also worry that as my son gets older this will just morph into some similar problem.
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So What Happened?™
Thank you all for your staggering quantity of advice - I certainly feel less alone!
We have decided to stay home this year and explain that it's just not a good year for us to travel. Next year we will plan to take the trip with hotel and rental car. This will give us time for some honest discussions and problem solving with our families.
M.V. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I will definitely be in the minority with my comments, but I say life is short, and family is so valuable. I have done this trip for years from SF to the East Coast and every year is hard, but I wouldn't trade the relationships the kids have with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. for anything in the world. Yes, I have to work harder and sometimes the kids were tired and off schedule, but it's for 5 days out of 365 and I think it's worth the effort. To me, seeing family is not "pressure" but something that I want to do since I'm so far away, and the kids don't get to see these family members very often.
Happy holidays to you and your family, and good luck with your decision.
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A.S. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Well, you CAN be flexible, but it may not be easy. I may be in the minority, but I think its important to spend time with family and to teach children flexibility as well. They can be off schedule a few days- it won't be the end of the world. I know it will lead to meltdowns and tough times-- but this is the price we pay. I don't think we do our children a service by teaching them that the world will always be as they expect it. It may be tough, but I think what your family and others realize/know is that you and your child WILL survive. Its just how much you are willing to sacrifice to spend time with them. Schedules are good to teach consistency, but kids are pretty adaptable to off days especially if off days happen every once in awhile and they are used to the idea. Maybe in preparation you can purposely go off schedule in the months before your trip? It is also unrealistic and dangerous to assume the world should be childproofed. 20 years ago not everything was childproofed and children actually had to learn not too get into things without permission and parents actually watched them. Nowadays I am disgusted by the amount of parents who let children roam around in others people's houses unattended and assume the world should be safe and adapt to them. It is our responsibility as parents to watch and teach our children. A toddler can learn not to behave a certain way in other people's houses, but a lot of parents get lazy. Can you stay at a hotel/motel? I think you would be completely within your rights to expect to have your own space while you have a young child. When you are at your family's house, won't your family help to watch them and spend time with them? - I would assume they are excited to see you and want to spend time with you and that is why they WANT you to be with them.
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K.C. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Hi A.- I hear your concerns and I agree that they are valid. There has to be a way to find a happy medium, though. Are you able to host part of the holidays at your house - so you don't have to worry about travel or an un-childproofed house? Is there a way that you can hire a nanny or perhaps a next door neighbor's teen (where ever you will be visiting), so she can stay behind with your son for scheduled naps while you enjoy the day trips with the rest of the family? Maybe you can also do a little research yourself - on activities the family can do that don't require a super long car drive and that could be child friendly.
Good luck!!! I know its a stressful situation. But just look at the big picture - Family is important and you WILL survive this. So will your son. :O)
1 mom found this helpful
T.T. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
To me it sounds as if your family is being unreasonable, not you. Children are not as flexible in their scheduals as adults are, which makes a trip harder. If it was me I would explain my childs schedual to the family and if they can't except it then I would consider not taking the trip at all. Your childs needs should come before anyone elses wants.
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K.M. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Well, these particular holidays are about family. However, you have your own family now. You are really stressed in anticipation of all that can (and likely will) go wrong and so you cant enjoy. I would make an excuse, and stay home, but that's just me. It may be time to start your own traditions away from the extended family. I'm all for honesty and I always feel better having the support of my family when I'm stressed, so a bolder more effective move might be to send this very letter to your family. Let them know that you Love them but it is very hard on you that things aren't kid oriented.
I'm sorry you have to go through this, ever, but right now it's just added stress and I'm really feeling for you.
What about telling them you want to start your own traditions, and invite them to join you at your house for Thanksgiving, and just leave Christmas open till you see how that goes...
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I understand your frustration. Even though none of my kids were ever on a schedule, per se (they napped when they were tired, and that usually depended on what we did that day) it was always difficult to visit adult-only homes. You would think that family would be more understanding, but sadly they can be the most demanding and judgemental.
The toddler years are short (hard to believe when you're going through it, I know!) and kids are a lot more fun to travel with from about 5 to 12. So you do have that to look forward to.
I think you need to think about starting your own family traditions. That is not to say that you never travel/visit the relatives, but switch off sometimes. Maybe this year would be a good year to lay low and spend some quality time at home.
Good luck with whatever you decide :)
1 mom found this helpful
S.R. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
Sounds like you're in a tough situation. I think you need to tell your family the same thing you just wrote. I know you said you've told them some of your problems, but I doubt you've spilled everything. It's been said many times before, "Honesty is the best policy." If they still don't get it then maybe you need to let them see what happens when your son is dragged all over the place and misses his nap! They also might think about toddler proofing their house after he gets into something he's not supposed to.
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P.R. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
We live on the opposite coast from family also and fortunately do not get much pressure to visit and also have my sister's very kid friendly house when we do. Your family is being very unfair and I'd ignore them and do what you want. My girls are almost 3 and just 4 and this past summer we went east and it wasn't horrible for a change. Sooner than you expect, your son will be older and it will all be easier and no one will even remember missing a couple of years. Your son certainly will not. There is time for him to develop a relationship with the rest of your family.
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A.E. answers from Stockton on November 19, 2008
Just a few years ago, we decided to opt out of all the "extended" family stuff and do our own thing. On Thanksgiving it is myself and my husband and our 4 girls,soon to add 1 boy. I go all out and cook a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, everything from scratch, yummy. Then the following Saturday we plan on going to my parents house and doing a dinner there, which is potluck style. Then on Christmas Eve we all stay home, go to church and make our own tamales. Then on Christmas day we go to visit my parents. That way we have our own family traditions that we are starting, and it takes away a lot of the chaos. My family is all within 1 1/2 hour drive away, so it isn't that big of a deal. But in your case, having to fly, I would just opt out of it entirely. Maybe do every other year or if you and your husband are not comfortable choose one holiday to go and one holiday to stay home. My sister in law does this with her family and it works out great, that way both holidays are not spent in chaos and traveling. I think it is important to be around family, but when we ourselves decide to have our own families, we need to show our kids that the holidays are a wonderful time to spend together, relaxing, doing our own traditions and just enjoying eachother. I had noticed several years ago that on the holidays we were spending more time traveling between everyones houses, in the car, than we were spending quality time with the family. I have wonderful memories of my childhood and spending quality time with my cousins and such, but we all had such a good time. What I was doing was throwing all my kids in our van, being stuck in traffic, getting frustrated and then finally arriving at our destination, spending 2 hours there and then come home again. That is when I realized that this is not the kind of holiday that I wanted my children to remember. Talk about it with your husband and the two of you can come up with something that is good for your family. As time goes by and your son gets older, then maybe you can visit them. In the mean time, enjoy your holidays the way they are meant to be done, and start some new traditions.
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K.H. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Doesn't sound like you have been able, even though you have apparently tried, to find middle ground with your families. The reality is -- you and your husband are full grown adults responsible for your child. Everyone in your family will just have to hear you object when things are not appropriate for you / your husband / your child. My suggestion would be the tried, well tested, and effective 'broken record' response. This is when you repeat the exact verbage again and again as your objection. Eventually, the listener/s will know what you're going to say and give up trying to get a different response to their continued badgering and personal need to WIN the disagreement. May I suggest something like: "I sincerely appreciate your concern. This is what XXX (your husband's name - or vice versa if he is the one doing the 'broken record'), and I think is best and will be doing."
This method is polite with acknowledgement of the other person's concern, states you and your husband are the decision makers, and you have already decided what is best for your child. If the listener/s are not mature enough (and this includes ALL of the adults), to respect your wishes and ability to draw a line in the sand, then that is -their- problem, not yours. You should never have to feel guilty about doing your best.
Btw, if there is any flexibility in your / your child's schedule, do ensure you participate as often as possible. This will show you are not just trying to prove a point, or something equally unreasonable.
Good luck! AND, have fun. :)
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A.S. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I am sorry you are having to deal with this. I have my own issues with family trips, but they are not like yours. I think you are totally within reason to say that you would be happy to stay behind so that your child can get his nap in. OTHER people are being unreasonable by demanding that you follow their schedules. So if I were you, I would once again state that you are happy, more than happy to stay behind so that your son can get a nap in and your husband should insist that everyone else continue on with their outing or plans and NOT change their plans simply because you are staying home. My own family took a trip to SoCal this past summer and my sons were 3 and 5 months. I stayed behind on the day that my husband went to Disneyland with my older son, because it was just too much on my infant. I had relatives come from Japan to see us for a mere three days, but I felt that staying at the hotel was the best option for my baby. Everyone understood. I don't know if the family members you talk about know how kids need their naps, so if they don't understand, then you just need to be patient and don't let them manipulate the situation to make it look like you are being unreasonable. It is NORMAL! I also understand the issue of being in a house that is not childproofed. My suggestion is to buy a bunch of new toys that are presented to him right when he gets there, so that he has a distraction and hopefully will not get into things he is not supposed to. Or maybe you can take him to a park for a while, so he isn't always being told "no" and you can explain it to your family that he needs to run around and use up some energy. I wouldn't explain the whole nap thing. Just TELL them that "I am staying behind so that he can get his nap." Be firm, but kind. If they try to make you feel bad about your choice, you can reply, "That's just part of being a mom and it won't be like this forever, don't worry!"
Good luck and I hope you are able to figure it out!
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L.C. answers from Fresno on November 19, 2008
I can relate, this is a miserable situation. You are not being unreasonable by asking that your son have time to run and play and sleep when he needs to, you are being his mother. When everyone tells you you are being the martyr they are being really unfair and whiny. Maybe you should tell them that your son is a person as well who deserves to be accomodated. Just as they need to go galavanting around tasting wine and whatnot, he needs to run and find neat things to play with. Maybe you could bring him a coloring book and some small toys or a movie to entertain him while you visit?
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T.H. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
It's interesting to read all the different opinions this post generated. I think that it's easy to forget that all kids are different and some REALLY, REALLY need routine they are used to. Others do not. I have a similar situation being the bearer of the first grandchild on both sides of the family. :)
So advise? None really. I think all you can do is feel out your in laws and decide where you need to dig in your heels and where you can let it go. I will say that families with only one baby tend to forget what having a baby is like. You have all these wonderful images of a little baby happily resting in your arms or a little toddler quietly coloring while everyone enjoys their dinner. Rrrriiiggghhht. No.
Wine tasting and antiquing? Are you kidding? This is unfair and if I were you I would say, "I don't think it's appropriate for me to take (insert childs name here) wine tasting or antiquing. You guys go, I'm going to take him to the park so he can let off some steam. I think he's starting to get a little stir crazy! We'll meet back here at 4:00 (or whatever). Do you need me to get anything at the store while we are out?" Said matter of fact and with a smile I don't think anyone can claim you are being unreasonable. :)
As far as staying in someone elses house goes...that just sucks. Toddlers are naturally very curious and forbiding them to check out their surroundings for days in a row sounds awful. Just tell your mother in law that anything under 3 feets is subject to breaking - followed by a nervous laugh. She'll either get it now or get it later. As my mom says, "honey, you can't be there to catch him every second and your cannot bubble wrap the world so accept that some thing will happen that you are not happy about."
good luck A.! In a few years it will be easier because his attention span will be longer and you can direct him into activities. Even next year will be easier so just tell yourself...just get through this year and next year will be better!
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C.H. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
You are NOT the only one who is going thru this. We have gone thru it with each of our children. It is draining to even consider a visit like that, much less go thru one. Sounds like your family has not really considered the needs of you or your child, just their own needs. The only way to get past this is to point out that soon enough your son will be old enough to handle the running around, will be old enough to understand an unbabyproofed house and be old enough to be on his own at points but right now he is a baby and you need to be more focused on what is best for your child. Let them know that you KNOW this is a temporary issue that your son will grow out of but for now you will NOT compromise his health or yours for some playtime with the rest of the family and that you hope they will understand.
Our children are small for such a small amount of time. The rest of the family can get a grip till your son is old enough not to need so much of your focus. In my opinion I believe there are way too many people out there who consider their own childrens welfare AFTER their own convenience and not enough who choose to put their children first. You sound like the kind of parent who chose to have children and chose to focus on raising them and put your own needs second to theirs for the time being. There will be years and years where your child doesn't need you...right now that is not the time. I hope you can make your family understand. For now, stick to your guns...just do it in the nicest wording possible.
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T.G. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
I can relate to your situation. My first Christmas with my son (now 3 & 1/2 years old) was ruined because we were trying to please other family members. It is something I will never get back. After that year, my husband & I agreed that Christmas is about our family unit (we now have a daughter this is about to turn 1). We invite them over to visit on Christmas day, but we don't even travel to the homes of people that live in the same town. They can choose to visit us or not. We plan to do this until the kids are older & can easily understand what's going on & why they can't touch certain things. Your son isn't trying to be bad and he shouldn't have to be told NO 100 times just because family members are selfish. Curiousity is the nature of little ones. Please, for his sake & yours, stay home. You can have a nice relaxing day, he can stick to his schedule (A MUST!) and you can have fun with him playing with any new toy he may get. In the long run, the family will get over it & your son will be happier for it. Maybe you could make a special invite for the family from your son - they may settle down a bit if it is worded sweetly enough to explain that they can play with his toys while he takes his nap. :)
P.R. answers from Redding on November 19, 2008
B.H. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I am in the same boat that you are. My family lives 2 and half hours away (not as far as yours obviously) but our stays HAVE to be longer than a couple of hours. What i would do is stay on a hotel and try to explain to your family that this is because you dont want to impose (not to mention habe your kiddo kiddo demolish their home if it's not baby proof). It is unfortunate that your family is not understanding the situation that you and your husband are in. You both need to get on the same page and show a united front to the family. And, if possible, maybe schedule a little park time so that your little boy has some run-around time. I know it's difficult, but i'm sure you guys can get through it. Lots of luck!
N.P. answers from Modesto on November 19, 2008
Yep! The Holidays are here :o)
My husband and I were in the same boat as you at one time. His family-side was all grown up, and my side of the family hadn't started having children. We were expected to be EVERYWHERE! It's amazing how we did it, actually, but to not "bruise" our families, we decided to work together, and accomplish all the trips!
The best, over the top trip, was when my sister wanted to to get married in the Carribean. (Pay attention, this is the same sister I will mention later) So, me being the only one with children, I was the only one that had to pack for kids, etc... The flights were scheduled at 3am. There were no baby products or changing tables on Board. I had to bring 95 diapers and 85 jars of baby food for my 5-6mo old. Anyway, I tried to keep my chin up! We did it. At least we were there! And..."whatever"
Now that my kids are older (6&12). The family trips are getting more fun for me because I don't have diaper bags now! :o) I've "done my time"....But my sisters have had babies now and the WHOLE WORLD HAS TO CHANGE! Example: We have an annual Thanksgiving Weekend Plan. Every year since 1980 we've have done the same trip with my side of the family. BUT.....one of my sister's has an infant (you know, the one that expected me to travel at 3am with 2 kids), she doesn't want to go because it's too much work with an infant. So now a "ripple effect" is happening. My other sister says, "well, I'll stay with you" because of her 1 yr old. My mom is like, "I'm the grandma, how about if I stay and you guys go?" Anyway, only 4 out of 30 are going. Everyone is so ticked off and disappointed, because it's been a family tradition for so many years, and so many are not going that others are not bothering to go, like me! I never once thought about NOT being a part of it, even if I had an infant! By the way, it's only a football game & tailgate party! And we have the luxury of a motorhome for the entire weekend :o) It's a very expensive trip for us, so because the whole dynamic changed, I decided we are not going this year. My kids will not have as much fun wihtout their cousins, grandma, etc...
Anyway, everybody handles their situations differently, and you can really only do what is best for your family. Yep, that includes "pushing yourself" to go to places if you know you should absolutely be there.
A., the only thing you need to know is that there are many of us who have their own "trips" and complaints. Everybody has to deal with this on some level at one time or another. There is no way to make it more comfortable, really, just to be patient through it all.
Good luck, A.! I'm sure it will all be ok!
M.S. answers from San Francisco on November 18, 2008
I completely understand the dilemma! Here is what we have done and it has worked well for us: Tell the family on both sides that you would love to visit and you would love to be included in any activities that you can. Let them know that you will be staying at a hotel, it works better for your son and your family. That way he can have a nap peacefully and he won't be getting into trouble for being in unauthorized places in the home.... Secondly tell them you will join them for activities as you can...no commitment to any particular thing. You could suggest meeting at a park for a family get together or something more kid-friendly. Its really too bad that they either call you a martyr or inflexible. ANYONE with children has got to understand that they have certain routines that make their world easier as well as the parents.. So if the family doesn't like it, tell them take it or leave it. Thats what your doing--no explaination needed. I hope this helps-- you have to be firm but you are really doing yourself, and of course above all your child a favor by keeping things fun,safe, and somewhat close to a routine.
G.L. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I am a mother of three.I know exactly what your going through.The best advice is to ask your friend or family member,if they can just put all breakables up or away,to make your travel stay alot easier,and comfortbale for you and the family.I know it can be a drag to ask that of people,but your away from home and visiting for the hoidays,and want to make sure everyone is happy.Hang in there,you will be fine.Becca
J.T. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Hey A. --
You're right...MANY of us can relate to this!!
First off, I would seriously consider staying in a hotel -- maybe one with a swimming pool if he likes to swim. If he still naps you can sneak back for a quick lay-down to recharge, and it's a great way just to take a little time out.
Considering splitting up the shifts -- Dad hangs with the friends a bit, then you can hang with the friends.
Pack a TON of things he likes to do -- maybe three or four small bags -- and then rotate the bags so he has some 'new' things to play with. Bring lots of snacks and juice boxes as well.
If you can, check out the area ahead of time -- are there parks you can slip off to for half an hour? a kid-friendly museum? Again, split shift with dad -- have a plan of 'who goes next' and rotate.
Consider getting a portable DVD player and bring a few of his favorites to watch.
It will be a lot of work, but you are also demonstrating GOOD PARENTING to your friends who are, at this point, pretty damn clueless.
Good luck, and try to have some fun! :)
J.T. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
I understand the delima you are feeling right now..... but it is not the end of the world... children are adaptive and probable more so then we are.... i think fear of the unknow on how to handle a two year old may be more of an issue with you more than anything else.
But remember there are going to be lots of family there and I truly do not think you son is going to get board with all the attention he is oing to ge from all of your family.
They have all dealth with two year olds I am sure and still manage to have a life and do thing...
don't cut your self off from living life and having a child.... you CAN have both.
I am a sngle mom and have raised two children one with adhd and in the midsts of taveling, family and new places my children have learned toadapt , but mostly it was me who had to learn.
it is good for your child to be exposed to family and new places...
relax and enjoy!.....
G.B. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I'm glad you asked this bc it helps me to know I'm not alone. I have somewhat of an extreme situation :-). 4 little kids and NO family help- we joke (sadly) that we have a mixture of incompetence, intolerance and disinterest among both sides of the family. Our local family will not come visit us or lift a finger to help us so we drive 2 hrs. to see them. We have to be very quiet and accomodating to them and pretty much have to leave when they are ready (8ish). Otherwise we fly across country with all kids and get alot of judgements, no help, it's exhausting. This summer my family vacated their house (back East) for us which was nice to some degree-but sad bc we hardly saw them and the motive was bc they couldn't stand being around the kids vs. letting us have space. So, my point is, stay in a motel w/a rental car, or invite them to stay with you! Those are your only options. People are very self serving and if they don't help me w/4, they will never care about your or your family needs with one! But you just surround yourself w/support and what your family needs. Be selfish bc they are not looking out for you! You'll be fine!
M.M. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I went through the same thing when my sons (who are now 9 and 13) were small. I decided to put my foot down and simply do what worked best for my sons and my sanity. We began inviting family to come to us at some of the holidays, and we made it clear that it was perfectly fine for us not to be included on the less child-friendly activities. We can enjoy our families during the holidays without spending every waking minute with them. I found that if I kept a happy, positive attitude about my decision to not drag myself and the kids along to all those adult outings, my family eventually accepted it and respected my decision.
K.U. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Sounds tricky and stressful. Could you go for a visit and stay in a motel? Then you can be there for major festivities but then when everyone else goes on a big un-child-friendly outing you can take him where you want to go. If you plan this ahead you don't have to be around them the morning of the events and no one can guilt you. I don't know why people insist on everyone being attached at the hip. Happiness at holiday time requires flexibility and understanding. I hope your extended family acquires a bunch of it this holiday season. Good luck.
H.A. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Hah! I love Alison's suggestion of letting your son run wild and see how everyone reacts when something gets broken. Great idea. :)
I have no suggestions for you, but want to share that we will be flying 9 hours, with a 6 hour time difference, with our 15 month old to see her grandfather in a dirty, very un-childproofed home. He is elderly, grumpy, demanding, and very inflexible, so we'll be torn between catering to his needs and those of our daughter. Fun, fun, the holidays are here!
I'm planing to do my best to keep cool and relaxed and remember that it will be over in one week. Also, we'll try to take lots of photos of everyone smiling and having a good time so we'll look back and cherish the holiday we spent together, because in the moment we might not have a great time. :)
Hang in there! Make sure to have a cocktail or two (if you're into that kind of thing) to keep your spirits bright!
I.S. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Hubby and I just went through this for a cross-country family wedding (airplane, rental car, hotel). My kiddos are 4.5 and 2yrs old and we knew it was the perfect opportunity to do the "meet the kiddos" tour. My boys are the only great-grandchildren and my Grandmother had a fabulous time showing them off to everyone at the reception and even threw his Bday party the next day (on his actual birthday) for everyone still in town. We would definitely not recommend traveling with tots under 4 after our experience (my older boy did fine on the airplane but the toddler did the "terrible two" routine to the max - no naps either). If you HAVE to go here are some suggestions:
When it's naptime or bedtime head for the hotel. If you were out and about visiting near home you would do the same. Give your son the most consistency possible - we even keept to our home timezone.
Do not expect your son to sleep on airplanes or in cars or strollers - sleep experts say that is not truly restful sleep. Your son will be overtired and more vulnerable to whatever bug those around him are carrying.
If you lived only a couple of hours away you'd be driving in for a specific event and then turning home afterwards. Your being in town more than for the actual event is a huge bonus for them and a huge hassle and expense ($$, health, emotional) to yourselves.
They're going to have to make sure the package opening and most important mealtimes are on your son's schedule. It won't be fun for anyone to watch a cranky kiddo at "festivities"... and aren't presents all about the kids anyway?
Beg folks to give very small-sized gifts unless you're prepared to pay $50 per extra bag to haul stuff home. Ask for them to set up UPS pickup ahead of time so things can be shipped home after you've left - they might get the hint if you can't ask directly.
Try to get a hotel room with a separate bedroom (we like Embassy Suites) and if someone is dying to give you and your husband a break they can NapSit or SleepSit in your hotel room. Your visit will go better for everyone involved if your immediate family has regular breaks from the hubub and keeps to some hotel-based private time.
No matter how well-intentioned they are a host w/o young children cannot whisper and tipytoe around while there's napping or bedtime before their evening's "gotten started". Even if they do they'll definitely resent it in one form or another.
Get yourself a portable DVD player and headphone splitters so you and hubby can watch movies while your son is sleeping.
It's a good thing we traveled before children because visiting and "vacationing" won't be the same anytime soon :P
Our pockets are emptied, our energy sapped, vacation accruals reduced and the kiddos have been sniffly and grumpy since we returned. Ahh... and don't get me started on all the "lovely" words even a 2yr old can pick up at celebrations - especially where the attendants aren't used to keeping their language G-rated for the younger set :<
Stay home and give each other the gift of a trusted sleeptime overnight sitter (a good MaMa friend). Head for the nearest swanky hotel, have a 5 course meal, a short walk (without a stroller!)... and then head back to your room to watch a movie and enjoy each other. In the morning have breakfast delivered to your room or (gasp!) have someone serve you a breakfast that doesn't include gibberish :) It's cheaper and way more fun than a plane ride with a toddler.
S.E. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Any option to say you won't be going this year? Make the trip as short as possible?
We travel to Chicago just about every Christmas season. When our daughter was a toddler, she was bored. She too couldn't touch anything in Grandmother's house. We had our own room and I kid proofed it as much as I could. That became her play area when things were boring. I also took her out first thing in the morning for a walk. Okay, I was walking to Starbucks because no one else drank coffee, but this got her out of the house to run and play along the way. At SB, her objective was to find all the things that were out of place on the displays (Yeah, we went to SB too often. She had the display line up memorized.). Then she'd fix it. (She still does this every holiday season.)
Last year we didn't go because I couldn't travel (hysterectomy). It was the best Christmas ever. I was 10 pounds lighter, we had our own tree, our own breakfast, lounged in jammies all day (have to dress before leaving the room at Grandmothers).
Try to stay home.
E.B. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
Lots of responses! My thoughts: your extended families are not ready to accommodate a child into their get togethers. Perhaps when other babies are born into your family, the grow ups will become more understanding. Stay home and focus on making the holidays the absolute best for your son. Start your own traditions so that he grows up enjoying the holidays instead of hating the travel and disruption to his routine. Also, planes are horrible places for toddlers with all the germs. I know it will be difficult explaining this to your families, but do what is best for you and your child. There are 11 other months in the year that family members can come and visit you. Good luck.
L.S. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
How about sending them all a copy of this email? It's really nice of you to be so concerned about all of their feelings and needs. It doesn't sound like they are doing the same. Maybe if you are totally blunt, in a nice way, they will get it. I finally had to tell my sister "sorry but it's just not fun for me with two toddlers at your house"! The kids would be into everything and I'd have to chase them with a broom trying to sweep up everthing right away! Good luck!
N.M. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Hi, aren't families great? They really make life interesting. I'm just a regular mom, so take my advice if you wish.
I think you need to take a warm bath to figure out what is best for your family. Sigh a lot and relax and imagine what would be best for your son and you and your husband.
Give your husband a back or foot rub while you talk about what he hopes the holidays will be like. Is there anything he would like to do? Is there anything you would like to do?
The basic needs of your two year old should be met first. But even this is flexible. Perhaps people could take turns being home during nap time, perhaps one day the nap could take place in the car on a long drive somewhere. Your husband might go wine tasting, and you might go antiquing.
Scope out where the local park is. Maybe a cousin would like to walk with you to the park and visit with you while your child gets to play. Try to go to different parks so it is interesting for both of you. A visit to the library for books is a good place to go. Look online to see what is available for 2 year olds in that area.
Ask others to help you by bringing a thing to entertain your child, like little safe trinkets, like a pen light, a ball... and then they would be waiting for their time to show what they brought.
Check out books that suggest things to do with a toddler and plan to do some of these things. Far out example: Maybe you can ask your host to play with flour and pretend it is snow for little cars to plow through. Outside of course. (Although I always did this inside at a kid sized kitchen table.)
To summerize: you find a calm moment to think calm inventive thoughts, get your husband to feel good about the trip and have him share his needs, put your family first but be flexible with how your needs are met, ask for help (see the family as individuals, who if asked for help individually, would generally be glad to give it).
Good luck and with preparation, I'm sure you will have a good time.
S.L. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
I know how you feel. I kind of dread visiting my in-laws because the house is not baby proof and I don't think it is fair to my son to have to tell him no, no, no, all day. Is it possible for you to stay in a hotel? Maybe you can research some parks or places where he can run around while people are antiquing. If they are wine tasting then a lot of vineyards have nice picnic areas where he could probably run around. At any rate you can't worry too much about what people think about your choices. They are not the ones who have to deal with your son if he melts down. It is possible they come from the old school of thought that children are supposed to adapt to whatever the adults are doing rather than the adults arranging things so that the child is able to maintain a balanced state. Whatever happens, make the best decision for yourself and your son. If people can't understand that, it is too bad because they will miss out on spending time with you and having the opportunity to see him run and play and explore.
K.F. answers from Salinas on November 19, 2008
Hi- A trip to the zoo, park or some other kid friendly place could be fun for the adults too. Are the grandparents around, they must remember what two years is like? I would think they would like to spend some time with him. Why not see if at least one family activity could be more child friendly and maybe if possible see if a grandparent would stay with him while you and your husband do one of the more adult outings? If there are not family members who want to spend quality time with your son then what is the point? If they insist on adult activities only then stay home and have a fun, relaxing Christmas with your immediate family. You are not being a drag if you simply do not want to spend you holidays chasing around your child, you deserve some fun and relaxation too (probably more than the childless people ;)) Do not worry about the future though. In a few short years he'll be capable of handling so much more and besides babies have a way of popping up when you least expect them, maybe there are cousins in your sons future!
L.K. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
This year we are staying at our house for Christmas. 2 is old enough to start the Santa thing if you so choose. We told our families that we wanted our son to wake up in his own house on Christmas morning, put out cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeers, etc. Nobody complained! Good luck!
J.K. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
You've had a lot of responses, but I couldn't resist...We have two kids, now 3 and 4. We stopped traveling for the holidays and are only just now ready to try it again. Everything you describe was too stressful for us and for our 2 kids and wasn't worth it to us as a family. We invite family to our house ( this only works because my husband's family is the only family close and it's a small group so there is room.) If this isn't an option for you I would gracefully explain to your family that as much as you'd really love to see everyone, traveling during the holidays just doesn't work for you at this time. Don't let what other people want ruin your visits. It creates bitterness and problems later on.
The other thing I wanted to say was that I took my daughter at visit my family when she was a out 8 months old. (Our son wasn't born yet.) It was THE WORST family visit of my life in which my sister and I got into a horrible fight that has altered our relationship. Same scenario... Let's drive and shop and eat out all day long, didn't bother to childproof the house, had no sensitivity that I was a new mom trying to entertain my daughter in an unfamiliar environment and was exhausted!! So even when you try to do your best for others, it doesn't always work out. I wish we had never gone on that trip.
So my best advice...Your family visits sound exhausting. Stay home and rest and enjoy your 2 year old. Do what's best for you and your son and let people say what they will. The people who care and want to see you will make the effort and the ones who don't want to understand won't. There's nothing you can do about that. And with family, you can never please everyone.
J.Y. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
It sounds like your family, like mine used to be when the kids were real small like yours, is not toddler friendly. It sounds like you would be left to do all the work and worrying and pacifying (of the adults too!) and I've been there. It's no fun for anyone.
I would suggest to your families how this trip could work for you and your child. You know your kid's needs, and therefore, yours and hubby's accordingly, best, and it's time they respected you as a mother and not try to pretend you don't have a toddler with you now. If they cannot accept a shortened visit where, perhaps you stay in a motel so that you can have down time and all have their space, and you do a few activities that entire families can enjoy (like a picnic at a park NEARBY where the adults can wander to antique shops as they wish) then I think you need to put your foot down and just say you'll come perhaps next year when he's a bit older. Tell them he doesn't travel well and, at least for this year, you must sacrifice the adult style fun for the well being of your child. They will respect you as an adult and mother if you are doing what's best for your child even if they sulk because they are not getting their own way. Eventually they should get it or they may never get it but this time won't last forever.
I know your families are not evil and I don't mean to portray them that way. I know that they just don't "get it" even if they try. Believe me hours in restaurants, and car rides to do adult things with my family and twins at 6 months and my eldest at 2 1/2, I learned this from experience. I look back on those times and would rather not have the memory. My wonderful family has finally come around and realize that the kids are part of the family now. We just had a most spectacular long weekend at a very kid friendly hotel where there was buffet food and pizza dinners (available for kids)and we spent the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium instead of at wineries as before. In the evenings, after a game of pool with the grandkids and grandparents,or a swim, we all would meet for drinks and games in one of the suites and the kids would play games, watch tv etc. It worked for everyone and we all had a blast (very expensive I know,a treat for us, but there are lots of other options!)
My point is that you are in control of what you participate in with your child and they need to know that you will be making decisions now including him into the plans whether it's convenient to the adults or not. Be firm but kind and show that you are not able to make a toddler act like an adult but adults can adapt to including a new member of the family, eventually.
Good luck, A.. Don't worry about the future now. No one knows what's ahead. Just deal with now. I would have sworn my father would never ever "get it" as he has never been kid friendly even when we were kids. Somehow with time, and a bit of education on our part about kids' needs, he has now started to enjoy his grandkids. He couldn't when they were little Mama's babies and I understand that now.
Take care and happy holidays!
J.H. answers from Salinas on November 19, 2008
I understand what you are going through. I also have a 2 year old that thrives on routine. When that routine is messed up...watch out world! And the headache that comes with traveling and baby proofing....ugh! Especially if you have a MIL like mine who insists that the scizzors will stay out and that I need to watch my 2 year old like a hawk so she won't touch them. (Haha, you think I'm kidding...but I'm not!) What kind of a visit will it be if the only word anyone hears is "no"? My advice is to stay home this year and enjoy the holidays with your family. Next year your son will be able to tolerate missing a nap here and there as well as understand what he can and cannot play with while visiting other peoples homes. While I agree that children need to know what the word "no" means, deciding to implement it in full force during a family holiday/visit could make it un-enjoyable for the other members of the family as well as your son. Relax, stay home, and don't worry about what your relatives think.
M.B. answers from San Francisco on November 22, 2008
I'm in the 'just do it' camp. I'm tired just thinking about the upcoming trip - but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's different at every age - last year (at almost 2.5) and the year before - the issues were keeping everyone up at night with any crying (which they're not used to) and the "rock star tour" effect. Having the only grandchild/niece and living across country, there were dozens of people on the hit list. I couldn't take it - then realized that I wasn't really needed. It's a nice time for my parents and siblings to bond with my daughter and show her off to friends that hear about her all year. I thought I'd get to go out at night or to a movie at night - not so. The night time routine was the one that was all back on me. that's when she needed her mamma - and the folks without kids were still making their own plans at night. Now that I get the pattern, we're all good.
this past summer at 3yo, the issue changed - now SHE wants to sleep in her own bed and room. I didn't see that coming. she loves the family and all the attention, but cries for her room. This Christmas - my folks are getting older, so they are getting more sleep. My sis moved out, so I have my own room - and Santa is a whole new experience. I think she'll still not be happy after 3 days away from her own room on the west coast, but it's all worth having my mom come take her out of bed in the morning and feed her breakfast. I get to sleep in! and they get precious time together. But I'm still tired just thinking about it ; )
thanks for asking the question. Good for many of us to think about upcoming plans and mentally prepare.
J.K. answers from Redding on November 20, 2008
with my family, i let them know naps are not negotiable -- my son needs them or else! and make sure you are not playing the martyr. bring a good book, make a fun dessert for everyone, enjoy your time alone. tell them not to stay behind because, frankly you need to chill out too (if your family is anything like mine they can be all-consuming) as far as childproof houses, i would say stay in a hotel if you feel more comfortable, we never feel guilty doing so, but unless these people have lots of priceless antiques at child level, you should be able to keep him from destroying stuff. if he doesnt have these skills to listen about respecting peoples stuff, you might want to work on them at home. get a hotel this year and make it your goal next year to be able to stay in a persons house without tearing your hair out. you dont want to be telling your kid no over and over when you are supposed to be visiting, but at some point you are going to want to spend more than an hour at somebody's house. sounds like he is making the rules on that one. my kid is alomst 3 and very energetic, but we have never left a house because of his behavior. luckily, we have been around adults who are interested in interacting with him, and when things get too grown up, we go take a walk and spaz out. good luck. and remember to enjoy your holidays. it can be so much when you are the one who always has to travel to see the relatives.
A.S. answers from San Francisco on November 18, 2008
You have to do what you have to do. Just tell them that you are not going to be flexable on your child nap time. That it well not fun for anyone involed if you have a melting toddler in tow. Suggest that some of your outinings be more kid friendly. MAybe to the mall where there is a play area or to the park if it is not to cold. You could alway just let him run wild for an hour or so in the unchildproof house. I bet after one of your family prized items gets broken they well be more than willing to let you stay in a hotel. Tell your family that you are not making unreasonable demands on them. They can do what ever it is they want to do but you need to think about what is best for your child and you well not be mad to feel about it.
M.P. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
i vote blow it off!! in the name of starting your own family traditions, have some friends over and roast your own turkey. and take trips to the parks and Children's Museum. :-) you can go back when the kiddo is older. and i don't know if this is possible, try to do this as guilt-free as possible. especially if/when you tell them you just can't make it. do what's right for you!
A.F. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I have always traveled with my children starting when they were about a month old (starting with a transatlantic flight). But unlike what it sound like in your case, our families were always trilled to spend time with our kids, playing with them and giving us time to do something together.
One thing that I found helpful when car traveling here, is stopping en route at a public park. Maybe this could be adapted to your situation. Where you are going there are people who have kids too. Maybe the town were you go antiquing has a public park you could visit with your son, while the others go to the shops. Afterwards you could meet for lunch or coffee and the time spent at the park will have the benefit that your son may be calmer. I also tried to schedule that my children spent their nap time in the car, because they both were good car seat sleepers. Or maybe someone else could watch him, while you join in some of the activities or maybe your relatives have someone they could recommend to babysit while you join in one special outing.
Maybe some reliable family friend wouldn't mind earing some extra money... And I feel strongly that by participating in some of the activities, would make it more meaningful for everyone.
For the days that you plan on staying behind because the planed activity is not doable with your son bring along a craft project or a good book and while your son sleeps you plan to do that. Signal everyone else that they should go about what they like to do. Because you were looking forward doing your thing... And just tell them that you want it that way, because everyone has to adapt to the situation. Maybe ask them to bring you a bottle of the wine they liked best or a funny item from the antique store. You can even give them maybe ten to fifteen Dollars and ask them to do their best to bring a big smile on your face...
Good luck, A.
T.V. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
With heartfelt regrets, you and your husband could decline the invitation this year. You have the right to start your “own” traditions and invite people to come to your home for the holidays.
I don’t quite understand what you meant when you said, “That involves people taking time off of work or whatever.” In the next sentence you said, “Everyone is on vacation.” This sounds like you really do not want to travel on the holidays.
If you do travel, you and your husband can ask your parents, brother, sister etc. (someone you trust), in advance, to arrange for a sitter for your baby so you BOTH can enjoy some of the day trips. You could also ask, in advance, if they wouldn’t mind putting certain things out of reach and closing doors where they don’t want your baby wandering.
Some of your stress could be relieved by using a play pen with some toys and books to keep him entertained and taking him out for intermittent, supervised play and walks, so he doesn’t get bored. When he’s cranky and ready for a nap or bedtime, the playpen could be used for a crib. Your family could rent one and have it there when you arrive.
Every child needs to understanding the meaning of NO, as he gets older it WILL get easier to travel. Every child, especially the younger ones will have meltdowns. Handled properly, they will decrease.
Limiting your visits to other people’s home to one hour to accommodate a two year old’s schedule is not necessary. Children are very flexible and it doesn’t hurt to change their schedule every now and then. I wouldn’t invite you for a meal, if you could only stay for one hour….that wouldn’t be much of a visit.
Truthfully, you do seem to be pretty inflexible on the subject of your son and it’s very understandable, especially with first time parents. Or could it be that you just don’t want to go? If that is the case, it’s O.K.
D.Z. answers from Yuba City on November 19, 2008
Lots of great responses! I am the only sibling with more than 1 child (I have 5). So we just say no thank you to staying with relatives or flying for now and keep a positive attitude. They have accepted it for now! But everyone is welcome to come to our house. It worked last year, just keep smiling and know you are doing what is right for your family! But don't make yourself miserable, that is not what the season is about.
Keep us posted!
C.J. answers from Stockton on November 19, 2008
I didn't read any of the other responses so they may say the same thing. I had the same problem with my husband's side of the family because we had the only children. We wanted to visit though so we decided to stay in a hotel and rent a car. The car was the best decision because then we could decide when and where we wanted to go and if we needed to leave early to go take nap. My kids were horrible car riders for the first year so we could not go far I always looked up things my sons would like, zoo, children's museum, and did trips with the grandparents there so they could see him doing things he liked. My husband always new where fun parks were that we took them too during the day to run around. It is important to have things planned to get his energy out to avoid the meltdowns even a adventure around the block, down the street, take a bag and look for rocks or leaves, anything to move. Also something that helped us was a portable DVD player for the plane ride and car rides with brand new special movies for the trip or some favorites. We don't watch a lot of TV but it made it special and really helped with being confined to the seat. Another tip try to time the plane ride to happen during nap so he sleeps on the plane it makes it go by faster for them.
ps. the meltdowns get better as they get older
E.W. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
I totally understand! I suggest inviting out-of-town relatives to come visit you this holiday season. If they don't want to, that's their perogative. Then, take a trip to visit them in the spring or summer for a few days when the weather is nice and you can do outdoor activities that include your son, like going to the park, or other things that won't drive him crazy. If/when your family members have kids, they'll understand. You certainly don't need to stay at their homes. If you can afford it, you may want to stay at someplace like an Embassy Suites or another kid-friendly hotel. Embassy Suites has indoor pool, cribs available, mini kitchen, complimentary breakfast, etc. Join your family for for non-nap time activities and that's it. Let them know that you love them, but that life with a toddler is very different than it used to be when you were just a couple. If your son doesn't get his naps, snacks, go to bed on time, etc., he will fall apart and have tantrums and make all of your lives miserable. Many of us have similar problems at this time of year. My sisters both have kids under age 4 (my son is almost 2), but we still probably won't go home this year. The travel and stress is just too much. We'd rather visit in the spring or summer when he can get out and run around and their is less pressure (go here and there, fix Christmas dinner, etc.).
K.V. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
The hotel suggestion is a good one but if that won't work out.....bring some of your own baby-proffing items like outlet plugs & rubberbands or something else that's simple for all to get off the low, child-accessable cabinet doors. I have done this over the years. I also walk around the person's home & just move breakable items out of reach. You might want to request this to be done before you arrive along w/putting cleaning supplies out of reach. Just explain nicely to them that your son is at the getting-into-everything stage & that you'd hate for their things to get broken or to have to make an ER trip while you're there. I don't wanna be devil's advocate here but if you want to see your families, you may need to just suck it up a bit. If you don't go on some of the day trips, so be it. Go to the ones that you think will be apprrpriate for your son. We've taken both our boys wine tasting w/us but we only hit a couple of wineries & the ones that have big, open tasting rooms w/o a lot of merchandise at their level & that also have lotsa of space outside for running around. I know all kids have their breaking point when it's clearly time to leave so as to not over-stay your welcome, but at 2 yrs, you can probably get this time to stretch a bit for your son. Our second son is a monkey, literally....at 16 m, he was climbing up ceilng high windowsills (& this was just the beginning!) so I know first-hand how hard it is to be at a house not baby-proofed. Besides bringing along food & drinks for him, bring some of his fav toys but also buy several new ones & don't bring them out til you can see you're close to the 'pushing it' level so that he's excited to see them & they will hold his interest & attention for a while longer. If you want your son to get to know his extended family & visa versa, then make the trip.
E.W. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Good for you for putting your son first! I agree that many people think that kids can be flexible and adapt etc. etc....but protecting the routine and the nap schedule of a toddler is paramount. Please stick to your guns and opt out of any activities that you feel are too much of a stress for your son. Alternatively, maybe you can suggest some activities that are appropriate for him...and whoever wants to participate. This way you won't seem like you don't want to hang out with everyone.
On the flip side, we have been trying to juggle making both families happy and seeing everyone and it was just too much...and that's when we lived on the east coast (all of our family is on the east coast and in eastern Canada). Being out west since June, we decided to "lay down the law" - -we told both families that our 2.5 year old was starting to understand Christmas...so we wanted to stay home and begin our own traditions. We explained that we wanted our son's memories to be of the joy of Christmas, not the hectic nature of travel and the exhaustion that comes with it. We told everyone that our door was always open to visitors...but that we would no longer be traveling for the holidays. This is something you might want to consider too. You're keeping your door open to visitors...so folks know they are welcome, but you're able to do your own thing.
S.C. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
If you have had complaints from the family before because of your son not wanting to stay in one place at one time I would suggest you invite everyone to your home instead of going there.Either that or politely tell all that your getting a hotel with babysitting included. Costly I know but it is better than taking a 2 year old to wine tasting. If the family won't compromise then you have to for your sons happiness. God Bless
M.L. answers from Redding on November 19, 2008
My husband remembered as a kid when his family would have to pack everything up to to to Grandma's house including christmas gifts,Santa gifts, etc. He decided he didn't want that headache so once our son came along we told the whole family that we were doing Christmas at our house. If they want to see us at Christmas they can come to us otherwise we will just have a quiet family Christmas on our own.
It may be time for you to inact such a policy. Maybe a few years down the road when your son is older and the 20 year olds have children, your family dynamics may change to where you can all get together again.
K.D. answers from Stockton on November 19, 2008
Suggest to your family to stay home this holiday. Explain you have a little one at home and you want to wake up Christmas morning at your own house and have him be able to play with his new toys. Invite family to come to your house this year! If grandparents complain remind them of when there children were little and how much work a toddler can be:) Good luck and happy holidays!!
A.B. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
We have a very similar family situation. Once a year we fly and visit my husband's side of the family in IL, rent a car and drive to visit more of his family in OH. It is a huge deal to travel that far, bring what we need, and meet the needs of my kids. To help get everyone there ready for our visit I send them a current daily schedule of each of my kids. Then I let them know that because of the time change between CA and their state I don't know exactly how it will play out, but we need to try to keep the schedule (naps, meal times). I also pack snacks for the kids and try to participate in planning the activities so I know they will be kid friendly. I even went so far as to stay at a hotel with our baby while my husband stayed at the in-laws home with our 3 year old so we could have the kids in separate rooms and keep their schedules better. The in-laws didn't like it, but it worked out really well and was best for the baby. Good luck!
G.B. answers from San Francisco on November 21, 2008
I would decline the offer to travel and say "see you in a few years when that works for us." They'll get over it. When your child hits about 6 then traveling is do able but rightnow it's a nightmare.
Your relatives already showed that they care more about their own needs than yours. You've already tried to explain how it inconveiniences you, and they don't want to aknowledge it. Some of them can't even grasp it, if they havent had kids.
You can't control how other people "feel". If you try to, then you become a people pleaser, and sometimes even a doormat. They make the choice how they are going to respond to things. Its human nature for people to try to "fit" things into the mold that they desire to form their own pleasing world. You could go along and make them "feel" better, but there comes a point where you will resent putting them ahead of your own family's needs. There's and old saying "you teach people how to treat you". All familes have a pecking order. You can either allow them to peck you into line, or stand your own ground.
Why not invite everyone to your house for the holidays? Then you havent snubbed anyone, you've simply put the ball back in their court. Then let them worry about how to deal with it!
C.D. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
I want to say that I understand and I do not understand if thats something you can understand. :o(
First, it sounds like you are the "nap time is at 1pm to 342pm NO exceptions type"....You will leave a friend or family members home because the clock says so even if you were having a really great long over due visit.
Holidays are FAMILY time and the FAMILY values and traditions are MUCH more importaint than the lil guy taking a nap on time...Also, will be very center of attention right? Thats a good thing for a few days with extended family. I can see where keeping him busy is a little challenge in someone elses home but, I can't get over how folks with family to go see dont just relish the idea with open arms...kinda goes with ya dont know what ya got until its gone.
I have 6 kids and I have never had to limit my time with family or friends to 1 hour, might be a sign?
I took my first born on a car trip from California to Iowa at 2yrs4mo. We stayed with my husbands family members I had never met them before that time. I was fine and my son did fantastic! I was 6 months pregnant as well. I would do anything if it meant that I could go see (with my 6 kids) all my family in So cal or MO. or WA. Money says they may not get a gift so its out.
My advice to you is accecpt the offer, do everything you can to not only go but GET involved in everything they go do even if a nap or feeding is off. When you and your son get older you will much better enjoy the memories made from a not so perfect family event than trying to remember if baby got his nap on time and stayed out of everything. Life is so short and family is a gift to be treasured. The holidays are meaningless without family and friends to share those moments with. Enjoy the trip! The old saying "take the time to smell the roses" Is not meaning just the ones that are in your yard and your control zone. jeesh, girl get out there with some family and smell some really BIG extra PRETTY roses and take the baby to have the same joys!
Merry Christ-mas Happy Holidays and GOD BLESS
L.C. answers from Sacramento on November 19, 2008
After traveling to Illinois with my 2 year old twins to visit family...it is clear to me that people don't understand the importance of routine until they get to experience the 'meltdown' that comes with bypassing the routines. Multiply that by two...and it's not pretty.
This Thanksgiving, we invited my in-laws to our home since the in-laws no longer have a spare bedroom for Pack-n-Plays and accommodating naps at their home. The response we got from my MIL & FIL were that FIL was too ill to travel...which is garbage. My SIL indicated that she didn't "feel like making the drive". (She has a 14-year old daughter and lives 2 hours away).
After hearing their responses, I am no longer feeling 'guilted' into traveling with my children (which I've done since they were born) to visit people who can't reciprocate, or understand the importance of toddlers' needs.
Create your own traditions and invite family to visit you. One suggestion...be creative in celebrating the holidays. When we did visit my in-laws for the holidays, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Christmas Eve was spent with the in-laws and Christmas Day with my family.
I wish you the best of luck...but don't feel guilty about doing what you feel is best as a parent.
K.W. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
I have been thru this, you do what works for you. People will always find a way to talk about you, your beliefs, the way you raise your children, etc. etc, might as well make yourself and your child comfortable while they do it. While it is awesome that family wants to see you, stay where you feel safe, where your child is comfortable and will have a peaceful place to rest, etc. It is not a crime to attend family dinners, but do your own activities on the side, if they don't understand, oh well.....they just missed out on some time with your child.
Do what works best for you and your family, even if that means staying home and putting in a family phone call.
R.B. answers from San Francisco on November 19, 2008
Ahhh, the joys of family visits. That's what they are and don't let anyone tell you they're vacations!
Plan ahead. Get a rental car, do not plan on being driven by relatives, you want to have freedom to go where you want when you want.
Have LOTS of distractions, both games you can play without props (songs, counting games - how many green things can we find), and things you can play quietly (crayons and small pads of paper, little sets of toys that are easy to carry and won't matter if you lose).
When my son was 2 1/2 we bought a Gameboy Color (he's 14 now) with Winnie the Pooh and Snow White games (don't forget the headphones! Over the head style work better than earbuds. Use a small hair clip to hold them on head). He didn't know how to play it but he loved the sounds and pushing the buttons kept him entertained when we needed him to stay put for that crucial 45 minutes of "don't touch anything!!" time. LeapFrog and such didn't exist yet. If you don't want to invest in that, you might ask around to see if anyone has something you could borrow with games for the 3-5 age set, we loaned ours out to friends. Boys love electronics and even if they don't understand the game, they love pushing the buttons. and hearing the noises.
We also took a couple of his favorite videos for imposed nap / quiet times. I simply would comandeer a couch / chair near a video player (if you have a laptop with a DVD player, even better, you can choose where you go) and would lay down with him on my lap or snuggle for a set amount of time. No one was allowed to bother us. Once we even went out to the car and he slept there. You can't depend it'll be the same time each day, but I made sure he had some quiet time each afternoon.
Books! We also got him a cheap tape player and recorded his favorite books on tape for him to listen to. Now with iPods and audio books, you can achieve the same thing. I check audio books out of the library, load them onto the iPod and delete them once I've finished listening.
It's a lot of work, but with advance planning, you can make it less stressful on yourself. But, it's not a vacation and it WILL be a lot of work for you during the trip.
Plan for some quiet time to unwind when you get home, you'll need it!!
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