Let's face it, 2020 has been a crazy year. One like no other! Our children have been out of school for nearly 6 months and for most of us routine has gone well and truly out the window. So many parents are juggling working from home & keeping their children entertained. So you haven’t had the time, focus, or energy to think about getting back into routine ahead of school starting. Sure, you barely got the uniforms organised and the books labelled in between Zoom calls!
Anxiety is going to be a factor for so many parents with the return to school. When we lie down at night we can start thinking as it often can be the only quiet time in our day. The same comes true for children. When they are facing a situation that they know will be different but they can’t visualise what it will be like, they can get anxious and as a result, their sleep could be disrupted.
Coupled with this, focus back on the routine! Routine can often be a dirty word in the world of parenting. Our personalities may not like it but our bodies thrive on it. Routine helps children to feel safe and secure as they know what to expect from their day at each stage of it. You may not have had time to think about returning to routine prior to school starting back so here are a few of my key tips to help you and your little ones enter your new normal this September.
I have been holidaying in Ireland with my family for years. So, the idea of staycation as the new vacation is not new to me or my little family! In the past, we have taken a house in lovely Rosslare, Co Wexford, which we loved! However, this year we decided to try something new and booked a cosy holiday cottage in Dunmore East, Co Waterford.
So, what are my top tips for a good staycation experience in Ireland?
For me, the idea of being hold up with 3 children and my husband in a hotel room gives me nightmares! So, a holiday house and self-catering is always my number 1 choice.
Ireland is Ireland and you must plan for hail, rain & shine! And that’s the thing about holidays in Ireland, you have to get out and about despite the weather. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices! Pack your raincoats, wellies, swimming togs & factor 50.
Investing in wet suits for children is a must. You don’t have the spend the earth – Aldi, Lidl, Decathlon and Home Store & More had great options. I have found that once they are comfortable on the beach, whatever the weather, then the fun will roll.
By anticipating that the weather will be mixed you will be prepared to still get out and about despite it.
Go & explore! We are so lucky to live in a digital age and with a quick google search, we can find new and interesting locations to explore. Follow local bloggers on social media. Check in with the Discover Ireland top places to visit for that area.
Living side by side with COVID is something that we are all aware of. We all need to do our part in terms of social distancing, hand hygiene & mask-wearing. I find that on fine weather days the main, better known, tourist spots & beaches were too busy for us. However, only 10 minutes away were beautiful deserted coves for us to explore.
These smaller lesser-known beaches allowed us to see the rugged beauty of Co Waterford on our trip, which was simply stunning.
Before you travel, look at what activities and experiences are open to you in the area. My friend organised for us to go to Sea Kayaking one morning. This was something I had never done before and it was a simply amazing experience. For one week my children attended a water sports camp and tried out activities that they had never experienced before. We cycled a section of the Waterford Greenway and tired out pier jumping for the first time. A simple google search for ‘Things to do in Waterford’ brought up so many options. Doing this in advance will help you to build an itinerary of your time away, and make the most of it.
If you asked my children though what meal they enjoyed the most on holiday – it would be eating fish & chips out of a paper bag on the beach in their wet suits hands down!
Before you book your accommodation think about what your wish list is around the sleeping arrangements depending on your family’s needs. We are a family of 5, 2 adults and 3 children. I ideally like 2 children to share and one child to sleep solo. That’s what works for me so a 3-bed house is what I wanted at a minimum.
When booking the accommodation ask questions around what they provide and what they don’t. That way you will know in advance what you need to bring. Do they provide cots? Do they provide bed linen? How many does each bedroom sleep etc? That way before you even get to your accommodation you will have an idea of how you are going to arrange things.
If you have children who are still in cots I would recommend that you bring a fitted sheet with you from the cot that your baby has slept on – not clean from the press! That way there is a familiar smell from home with it. I would do the same with sleeping bags and lovies!
I have a little trick around younger children that are in a single bed and not having to bring the bed rail. Simply turn the single duvet on its top edge and tuck it in under the mattress on either side. That way you have created a secure sleeping environment for your little one and are limiting the chances of them falling out of the bed!
Strange I know! But, you know that I love a good dark room for children to sleep in. Darkness supports melatonin production, the sleepy hormone, which helps us all get to sleep and stay asleep. I don’t think I have ever rented a house that has had a satisfactory blackout solution in bedrooms. For this reason, I always ensure I have thought about how I can make the rooms darker. Suggestions include travel window blackout systems or simply creating your own via black bags and or tinfoil (always be careful when using homemade solutions in case of a build-up of heat cracks a window!)
If you have created a nice dark room then your little one is more likely to sleep well for you at night.
What? A baby sleep consultant telling you to be flexible with your routine! Yes, you are on holidays. Let loose and have a little fun. That’s what holidays are for. I would advise not to let the wheels come off the bus entirely but some out and about naps or slightly later bedtimes are not going to undo everything. Just remember that holidays are to be enjoyed and if going off routine helps you to relax a little more, then do it. You can always get back on track with things once you are home!
For me taking a run with a view of the sea sets me up and gives me the time out to come back refreshed for the next parenting round. Allow your partner to do the same. You will both be better for it.
Children love spending time with other children, fact! While we were away we had another family come to visit us on a day trip. The kids were overjoyed to hear that another family would be joining us and we were delighted to have some other adult company. It created excitement for days! On the day they visited the children were entertained the entire day and we were able to catch up while enjoying the antics from our beach chairs.
I loved our staycation in Ireland and with a little planning, you can too!