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Checking in…

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One of our boys pushes against routines and longs for free time with no structure. So the summer holidays are his idea of heaven, or so he thinks. In reality though, he’s not sure how to handle the lack of structure and we’ve learned over the years that putting in a bit of a framework, chunking up the day into blocks of time and giving him options for what to do when, gives us all an easier time.

As he gets older and more independent, playing out with friends has become a big part of the holidays. He’d happily disappear for the whole day but too much time away can see him disconnecting from us. You can almost see him putting a bit of distance between us… a bit of bravado, bad language and attitude all helps keep everyone at arms length.

stop clockSo we’ve built in an invisible checking in system – giving him a 2hr check in time – either in person or by phone. So he can still play with friends and feel like he has the freedom that the rest of his peers have. The end result is that things don’t unravel so quickly and we keep a better connection even with more freedom.

What strategies help you keep the balance over the holidays?

Related posts:
surviving the summer holidays
a weekend away

Coming soon… Adoption summercamp – a weekly programme to help you keep your sanity over the holiday season… email for more details

Written by adoptresources

July 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Mine is making sure when I drop the children off at camp that they know what time i am going to pick them up. They want the security of knowing when.


    July 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    • Thanks Naomi – a really important one and worth reinforcing as you’re dropping off even if you’ve said it already.


      July 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

  2. We do this when we go to soft play or to a park or suchlike as our Son can easily get “fizzy” and sometimes this can scare or make other kids anxious. So every 20 minutes we tell him to come and find us (he will already know where we have parked ourselves with coffee or picnic etc.) and this also re-assures him and makes him feel safe. We also tell him to call our REAL names rather than Mum or Dad if he gets into difficulty – that way there aren’t a hundred Mum’s or Dad’s all looking to see if its their child calling them and also, we can get to him faster!

    Ali Campbell

    July 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    • Thanks Ali – great tips and a good point about timing your ‘check ins’ according to your child’s age and stage.


      July 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm

  3. What some people see as fun or a treat, to my daughter, the anxiety of a new situation or being away from home and routine mean that it ends up being no fun for anyone. She almost got herself banned from the school trip for her behaviour in class that week, as ultimately, she really didn’t want to go to an unknown park.

    She needs the routine and structure, so the holidays are all preplanned with a little room for spontaneity.
    I have a colour coded timetable on the fridge so she can clearly see how much time she is getting to spend with me, and knows in advance any new or out of the ordinary activities she will have to deal with. Most of the week is quite similar to term time, like going to grandparents and out of school club on the same days as normal. We still have “homework” each night given to us by the school to try and help progress her spelling and handwriting difficulties. And we keep bedtime the same, as few late nights as possible!

    So, keeping it the same works for us, and as for a “holiday”, both of us going for a sleepover at my sisters / her cousins is as much fun as we can handle!


    July 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    • Hi Corinne – fab comments – you really highlight how unsettling changes to the routine and structure can be. I love visual cues like your timetable – amazingly reassuring for lots of kids (& adults!) to see what’s happening next.

      Enjoy your holidays this year and the sister/cousin bonding time ; )


      July 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      • I agree totally – a change in routine and a lack of structure just doesn’t work for our kids. It’s such a shame that other parents and indeed grandparents don’t understand this. It’s one of our hardest battles – to try to get others to understand! When I tell others that our son needs to be in bed by 6pm at the VERY latest as he sleeps through until 8 or 9am (on non school days) they look at me in horror. This is HIS routine and his bit of security in our now structured lives. A late night will totally throw him out of sync & makes the next day hell for everyone as he will have a total meltdown. On the two sleepovers he’s had at his grandparents he’s been left to have free reign (which he loves at the time!!) late nights, over eating, too many sweets, watching TV late at night (well after his bedtime) and not being supervised as he is at home, is just not worth an evening of respite for my husband & I as we always come back, the next day, to too much to unravel!

        Ali Campbell

        July 12, 2011 at 7:28 am

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