Navigating Post-Vacation Blues With a Toddler
By Sam Bowman
Vacationing with your family is a fantastic way to bond, have fun, and create memories that will last a lifetime. But if you’ve recently returned from a family vacation with a toddler, you’re probably exhausted and in need of some rest and relaxation. That’s where the post-vacation blues come in—although adults aren’t the only ones that feel them. Kids can actually fare worse than most when it comes to the post-vacation blues.
It’s not uncommon for feelings of sadness or even depression to creep in after a vacation. Getting back to the “real world” can be stressful and overwhelming, after all. So, what can you do if your toddler struggles to get back into their normal routine? How can you help them cope with what they’re missing from their fun-filled getaway? Keep reading for a few tips to that will help navigate vacation recovery and ease the transition back to real life.
Prepare Your Home
Before your trip, you likely did a lot of planning and preparing to ensure you had everything they needed for a successful vacation. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to plan ahead for your return home, as well.
Coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes, loads of laundry to do, dead plants, and spoiled food in the fridge will be stressful for anyone—and when you’re stressed, your toddler will pick up on that. It will make it that much harder to get back into a routine and doesn’t give you the option to “ease” back into things after some time away. tressed, your toddler will pick up on that, and they might have a harder time getting back to normal, too.
A few things you can do to prepare your home for travel is:
- Emptying the fridge
- Asking your neighbors to take care of pets and/or plants
- Making sure your home is clean before you leave
- Investing in a good security system
- Using smart thermostats and light timers
The less stress you come home to, the easier it will be to adopt a sense of normalcy right away, so your child won’t have to deal with multiple adjustments all at once.
Keep the Vacation Going
You can keep your toddler entertained and occupied by having activities planned for them when you get home. Whether on their own or with the whole family, playing, building, or creating is a fantastic way to remind them of their vacation. In other words, distract them from the post-vacation blues.
Simple DIY projects are great for allowing the glow of vacation to slowly dissipate until they’re ready to jump back into their normal routine. You can try:
- create a chalkboard and encourage them to draw items that remind them of the vacation
- work together to choose photos for a vacation album
- let them look through your camera roll and choose a memory they want to frame for their room
- give them a pair of scissors and a stack of magazines/catalogues to create a collage filled with things that remind them of their special trip
If your toddler is really struggling to get back into the swing of things, talk to them about it. One thing that might help is discussing some of their favorite memories about your vacation. Encouraging this type of conversation will evoke happy memories and will let your child know that even though the vacation is over, they can carry it with them forever. Sharing memories can even benefit your child’s well-being as they get older. Ask them things like:
- What was your favorite activity?
- What did you like seeing?
- Where was your favorite place to eat?
- Did you like riding in the car/plane?
You can also help them cope with the end of your vacation by beginning to plan your next one. Whether summer vacation is coming up or you’re already thinking ahead to next year’s family trip, get them involved. Ask them where they want to go and what they want to do. Giving them something to look forward to can make the world of a difference. Planning can include:
- pinning locations on a globe or map
- looking at travel books or atlas’ together
- telling them about places you’ve been before they were born
- discussing where their favorite animals live or where their favorite movie characters are from