Long weekends can be a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together and create cherished memories. However, for parents of babies and toddlers, navigating long weekends can also be a challenging task. At Monti Kids, we understand the importance of preparing your little one for events ahead of time and allowing for time to process.
In this blog post, we will share some tips and strategies for parents to help navigate long weekends like Memorial Day with little ones, while still supporting their development and independence. Guiding you in how to plan ahead, preemptively support, and what to prepare the day of.
Planning ahead is crucial when it comes to navigating long weekends like Memorial Day with little ones. Having a plan in place will help you feel more organized and confident when it comes to managing your child's needs.
- Make a list of activities that are suitable for your child's age and developmental stage.
- Think about their routine and plan activities around their nap times and meals.
- Consider the weather and plan indoor or outdoor activities accordingly.
Once you've made your plan communicate it with your family and friends and stick to it! Once you share it with your little one there is no going back. They are creatures of routine and will rely on your communication with them to stay the same in order to feel safe and secure.
Preemptively Preparing For Big Events
Prepare your Little One for What’s to Come
Involving your child in the planning process can help them feel engaged and excited about the upcoming long weekend. Talk to your child about the activities you have planned. This can be as simple as showing them pictures of the places you plan to visit or of the people they will see there. By informing your child of what’s to come, you are supporting their need for order and helping stave off any moments of overwhelm.
Routines can be built into any other part of your day or life as well. Using a set of Routine Cards like those found in the Toilet Learning Kit from Monti Kids is a great way to visually remind and involve your child in what comes next. Use this set around the bathroom routine or create your own for other aspects of your daily life.
Create a Safe and Stimulating Environment
Creating a safe and stimulating environment is important for promoting your child's development and independence. Offer a low shelf and make sure your home is childproofed and free of any hazards. Providing your child with age-appropriate toys and activities that are both fun and educational will help avoid overstimulation. Having quiet and calm spaces for your child to rest and relax as they need and focusing on connection through reading or snuggles can make a big deposit into the rest of your day.
Promoting independence is a key principle of Montessori philosophy. Collaborate with your little one as they learn new skills, such as dressing themselves or helping with meal preparation. Provide your child with age-appropriate tools and materials that allow them to be independent. For example, a small pitcher and glass can help your child pour their own water at meal times. Encouraging independence helps your child develop confidence and self-esteem.
Provide For Autonomy
Creating a space in each area of the home where your little one spends time that is accessible to them and able to be maintained and used freely will offer them a sense of autonomy and independence. Hanging low hooks in your entry for jackets, clearing out a lower cabinet in the kitchen for their dishes and snack, emptying a drawer in the bathroom for their hygiene needs are all quick and easy ways to do so.
Once It's Time To Go
Pack Appropriate Gear
When attending Memorial Day events, make sure to pack appropriate gear for your child, such as a sun hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a change of clothes. Bring along a blanket or portable high chair for your child to sit on during meal times. Check out our Summer Must Haves for our favorites!
Bring Healthy Snacks
Many Memorial Day events offer plenty of snack options some of which you may not be prepared for your little one to eat or they haven’t had exposure to yet. As a backup, pack a few healthy snacks for your little, such as a fruit pouch or veggies, crackers, and cheese. Bringing your own snacks ensures that your child has safe, healthy options available and reduces the risk of them consuming something new or unsafe.
Keep an Eye on Your Little One
Memorial Day events can be busy and crowded, so it's important to be sure there are eyes on your little one at all times. Perhaps take turns with your partner who is on “duty” and who is not. Make sure your child is within your sight and that they are safe and comfortable. If you have an infant with you, consider using a baby carrier or stroller to keep your child close to you in crowded areas and a picnic blanket for them to lay on and play in less busy areas.
Be Prepared for Loud Noises
Memorial Day events often include fireworks, which can be loud and startling for young children. Be prepared by bringing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs for your child. This can help reduce their anxiety and keep them comfortable during the event. Letting them know ahead of time that they will be happening is another important step to help support your little one with this new and exciting event. Offering them options to sit on your lap or hold hands while they’re happening gives them ways to feel safe as well. And remember leaving is always an option in order to honor their feelings.
Set Realistic Expectations
Attending Memorial Day events with young children can be challenging, so it's important to set realistic expectations. Don't expect your child to stay for the entire event or participate in every activity. Allow for breaks and downtime to keep your child from becoming overstimulated or overtired. This allows them time to check in with their bodies and minds to know when they’re feeling ready to leave or when they need a break which is an incredibly valuable skill to have throughout their lives.
Consistency is key when it comes to young children. Keeping your child's routine consistent during a long weekend can help them feel more secure and settled. Stick to their usual nap and meal times, and try to keep bedtime routines as similar as possible. This will help your child feel more relaxed and less likely to become overstimulated or overtired.
When you notice them getting overwhelmed with the activities of the weekend offer periods of connection. Head off to a quiet room or corner of the yard and ask about their day so far - “What’s your favorite part of the party?” or “Are you feeling tired? Let’s go get a snack and some water.” Meeting the need for connection and making a conscious effort to check in regularly will help your little one feel in control and safe. Perhaps pack a favorite book to read together before heading back to the gathering.