Alright wish us luck. We will be going soon for our very first overnight family outing together. In a hotel. The three of us. With Michael’s sleep routine being slightly altered, and all of us sleeping in the same room. I hope it works out, but I am optimistic like never before. We have been talking about it. We will be planning out the two days, one night trip as much as possible in advance, and we will, as always, be bringing Michael’s tools to help him: sensory brush, squeeze or fidget toys, offering him breaks, and using our beloved token system for a reward offered at the end of the day before bedtime. I will also be crossing toes, fingers and any other body part that it all works out.
A friend of mine told me a while ago, “when Mom is ready, the child is ready.” Most of my Mom friends of Exceptional Children have all taken family trips overnight, in an airplane or car, and did what other families did. Not us. Dad and I were not ready. Now we are. I also feel that Michael is ready. He is nervous/excited but older, able to tell us his needs and wants more clearly, and even when we fight or have a rough time, all us have strategies, better strategies to cope. This wasn’t the case a year, two and more ago. Maybe I had strategies, or Dad or Michael, but not all of us had our strategies intact. On that note, here are some ways that are helping our family best prepare for our first overnight trip out of town:
- Pack bags in advance with clothes, toys and portable sensory equipment : This is a no-brainer, but really do it as much in advance as possible. And bring clothes, snacks, games, fidget toys, and other tools that will keep your child calm and regulated. Trust your instincts and leave nothing behind.
- Bring snacks, water, Lysol and baby wipes IN DROVES: This is important as well. I learned the lesson a hard way a few years ago when we were stuck on a beach and his hands were dirty and I did not have enough of the above wipes to sanitize. Good we were with a friend who gave us some of hers.
- Bring jackets, rain gear in case of unpredictable weather: This goes without saying, but bring for everyone. You don’t want to get stuck in a storm and get drenched.
- Make sure to have emergency cash and small change: This comes in handy so you can allow the occasional treat for your child or yourself.
- Take child’s comfort toys books for bed: Make sure they have what they need to be comfy for as similar a nighttime routine as you can get.
- Write out social story and plan out as much as you can in advance: This is important if it is your first time. We are writing out a general plan and allowing for modifications. Michael will make some, we will make some, and we will remind him of unpredictable things that could happen and what he can use as his tools to cope.
The most important thing to do is be as organized in your bags and as concrete in your plans as possible. Children, all children, gravitate to a steady plan and a steady hand. Mom and Dad need to be on the same page all the time, or do their best to get back there if they veer off. We all do, and there is no shame. Do your best.
Exceptional Parents, how did you handle your first away trip or are you still contemplating whether the family is ready? Whatever you do and wherever you are, remember. You know your child and family best. You know when all of you are ready for the next adventure. Always trust that feeling and adjust as you go along. Until next time.
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