Yay. The Summer holidays are upon us. Six weeks without the hassle of getting ready to a tight schedule with the clock ticking and our stress levels rising, struggling with a mountain of homework, preparing for exams and generally getting angst by the school system.
But the holidays perhaps brings a different kind of problem scenario:-
The Day Out and Accompanying Headache.
Days stretch out with unlimited possibilities. We dream of Days Out full of happy smiling children, grateful siblings and carefree abandonment.
Yet in reality, the Day Out may end up in tears (probably yours), upset and wondering why on earth you bother, swearing you’ll never attempt that again (which of course you will).
Well it doesn’t have to be like this. With some planning and preparation, your Day Out can be fantastic. Read on…
How To Have A Successful Day Out
1. Ask your child exactly what they’d like to do
Seek out their opinion and suggestions. A day out to a farm may sound like a great plan, but if the smell makes them feel sick then this is not going to go well. There may need to be some compromise, but definitely listen to them as usually your child knows exactly what he wants! Then investigate your chosen place on the internet. Google maps, pictures, guides so your child knows a bit about where you’re going. Maybe print out a few things to spot when you’re there. Get him excited about the Day Out.
2. Be prepared before you go
Use the planners I gave you last week (email me if you’d like a copy). Make sure everyone knows what day and time you are going. That way there will be no surprises and time to get everything ready. Make it clear what the route is if you’re driving or what time train you’re catching. Involve your child as much as possible. Get all clothes, bags, equipment ready well in advance so there is no rushing, hurrying and forgetting on the day. You may need to use visuals such as Now and Next so your child can see exactly the order of things.
3. Emergency Pack
Have tons of things to keep your child occupied. This could be games like I-Spy, spot the red car, number plate detectives. Could be colouring or card games. Food that is non-messy to keep the energy up. Maybe a small MP3 with some headphones for some calming music. Favourite soft toy. Fiddle gadget. Anything that can distract and give your child comfort if everything is becoming too much. On these hot days, keep hydrated.
4. Stick to a plan
Sometimes large places can be overwhelming. Too much noise, movement, choice. So depending on where you are going, have a plan decided before you go. What will you do first. When will you stop for lunch. What time will you leave. It may sound a little too prescriptive but spontaneity doesn’t work with our children.
5. Quit whilst you’re ahead
When you see that is is time to go, then go. You need to have different expectations of the day. Even if your other children, friends, cousins are still having fun you need to consider the needs of your special child. Staying too long will lead to fractious behaviour, adults getting cross and the whole day ending up in a maelstrom. Better to leave early so your child feels excited, happy and that he’s had a great day.
6. Calming techniques
If it is all getting too much, teach your child to self-soothe with calming techniques. Recognise physical symptoms like heart beating faster or sweaty palms. Teach him to remove himself from a tricky situation, breathe deep, count or recite a rap in his head. Reach for the Emergency Pack!
7. Notice the small things
There will be times in the day when your child gets over-excited, impulsive or not seeming to listen. You may need to call him out for these things. But balance it by noticing and commenting when he does something small. Like taking the tray to the table, clearing up the mess, letting someone go first in the line. Praise twice as much as you say anything negative.
8. Join in the fun
There is nothing quite as fun as mum joining in and having a go. Put away your mobile and don’t worry about recording the moment. Be in the moment. Make the memories.
9. Don’t believe Facebook
I know you’re going to check out Facebook on your return from your Day Out. And certainly it will be full of pictures of perfect families having perfect days. Don’t believe it. A snapshot may have captured a moment – but the picture doesn’t tell the whole story. There will have been rows and sulks in their day too.
So go and have a fabulous, happy Day Out.
Let me know how you get on and if you have any other fab tips to share.