Parenting | How to make day trips run smoothly

llama-935947_1920How many times have you taken your children on a day trip and five minutes after you arrive, or five minutes into the car trip, you feel like saying, “That’s it! We are going home.” We put time, energy and costs into organising days out, yet it can sometimes seems that your children just don’t care.

The stress of organising the event can leave you exhausted and with little energy to deal with what might be normal everyday behaviours. It becomes something bigger and you may be inclined to overreact. Coupled with this, children can be more excitable on days out. The excitement will make it harder for them to manage their emotions and behaviour. They can’t stop fighting and they won’t do what you ask of them.

Teens, on the other hand, may show no excitement. They may be so difficult to motivate, you wonder why you bothered. Feeling disheartened, you just want to go home and cry or maybe stomp about the house to let them know how angry or upset you are. The day out was not just for the children, it was for you too and you feel disappointed: you wanted this time out to relax and have fun with your children.

There are steps you can take to make things go a little smoother so the fun days out are fun from the time you wake up. Read our “10 ways to” have enjoyable days out this summer:

  1. Keep it simple. Think about what your child can cope with. If they are not use to travelling too far then don’t plan a long trip. No matter how good you think the far away venue may be, it may not be worth it. This goes for holidays too.
  2. Tell your child about the trip in advance. Some children love surprises but many don’t. If they are not aware of what is about to happen it can really upset them. Keep as many elements the same for them as possible: eat at the same times and eat the same types of food.
  3. Talk with your child about what you expect of them on the day out. Try to come up with some ways of keeping them safe but still allowing them some freedom.
  4. Dress children for play and not for photos. Too many children are over-dressed on play days out. Let them get dirty, have fun, roll in the sand. They shouldn’t come home clean; it is not a good sign! Bring spare clothes, bring the wipes and try not to worry.
  5. Dress appropriately yourself. Wearing your lovely white trousers may not be the best idea. It is all about fun, so dress in a way that supports you to relax and enjoy your time with your children.
  6. Photographs can cause lots of trouble. Take them if you can but making children pose can create stress for no reason. Fun days out will create memories in a child’s mind. They don’t need photos to have those memories. You can keep other things from the day and stick them in a scrap book to remind you of the day.
  7. If problems arise, stay calm. Think about it from your child’s point of view. Take a break, sit down for a minute and make a plan. Think about what is causing the problem. Are we hungry, are we tired? Whose needs are not been met? Can I do anything? The least you can do is acknowledge the need, if you can’t meet it at that time acknowledging it helps. If you can identify the problem and solve it things will improve.
  8. Allow them to cry; it doesn’t mean you have to leave. There are parents all around you. They know how hard it is. If you can stay calm your child will feel it and they will relax.
  9. Following on from that, stop worrying about who is watching. We put too much pressure on ourselves as parents to perform perfectly all of the time. Be the best parent you can and try not to let others knock your confidence.
  10. Do it more often!

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.