Scared to take a vacation with your 2 1/2 year old… Here’s How!

Dear Dr. Ann,
I am going away for the weekend without my 2 1/2 year old daughter
for the first time. I wanted some tips on how to make it easy for
her and me.
Cindy,

Dear Cindy,
Kids at this age do like a routine. Time zone changes can be tough.
So, keep your daily routine as much like home as possible.

Here are a few tips:

Still have a nap/quiet time each day.
Bring or buy foods she is familiar with and likes.
Have a stroller for sure, so if she needs to be removed quickly from an activity you have an out.
If she has a ‘lovey’ (pacifier, blanket, stuffed animal) bring it along for comfort.
Bring along a sheet she has slept on for a few days, don’t wash it and put it on whatever bed she will be in.
Play a lot of games wherever you are, as kids feel more comfortable if they are playing.Try to remember even if she doesn’t do well (a tantrum) in a given situation, especially if it is in public, that 99% of the people who are looking at you are thinking, “Oh, I feel so sorry for her because that was me yesterday with my child”. BUT, most of all have fun, smile tons and relax your self and that will rub off on her!

Oops, sorry Cindy for answering as if you were taking your 21/2 year old with you.

So, here are some tips for LEAVING your 2 1/2 year old and going on vacation “without” her

#1 Is making sure your child is staying home with a familiar, loving adult who considers safety first and play second when caring for your 21/2 year old.

#2 Hopefully your 21/2 year old has a ‘lovey’ (special blanket, etc.) and that needs to be accessible to her at all times when you are gone. As this ‘object’ helps your child understand their emotions when you are gone. It literally tells them that they will be OK, even if you are not around.

#3 Play hide and go seek everyday before you leave. When you hide, say something like, “You won’t see my face while I am hiding or gone on vacation, but you will always be my little girl and I will always come back”. This type of play helps kids practice knowing you exist when they cannot see you.

#4 Video you and your husband with her before you leave (playing, reading, etc.) and whoever takes care of her needs to show that video to her everyday.

#5 Tell her when you read to her before you go that when ever her caretaker is reading this book to her you will be thinking about her.

#6 Take your pillow case off your bed while she is watching right before you leave and put it on her pillow and tell her when she lays her head down each night it will be like putting her cheek on yours.
#7 The good news is that 21/2 year olds cannot tell time, so they will not know how long you are gone.

Now for your sanity while on vacation away from your 21/2 year old.
#1 Decide before you go how long you are going to spend talking about your 21/2 year old each day. I would recommend maybe an hour at the most and talk, talk, talk about nothing else but her.

Then when that time is up, the subject of her is ‘off limits’ so to speak. You and your husband talk to each like you did before babies. Your interests, the weather, how much you love being married to each other. You both need to connect on an intimate level when you are alone and vacation is the time to do it.

Enjoy each other knowing your child is safe and playing and the two of you are strengthening your marriage, so she has a family to come home to, Dr. Ann