Special events should be fun! Here are some ideas to help the whole family enjoy your next memorable occasion.
1. Let your child help pick out their outfit. If you need to purchase a specific outfit for the event, involve your child in the process of chhoosing the outfit and they will be so excited to wear it come that special day. If you are picking from the closet, offer choices between two shirts or dresses or even something as small as the hair clip!
2. Think ahead about your child’s sleep schedule. Plan bedtime the night before, wake up time, and the day’s nap time according to the event schedule. If you need your child to nap early, try getting them to bed early, up early in the morning, and run them around as much as possible to wear them out for an early nap! Enlist family and friends to help.
3. Discuss expectations with your child about the event. Kids love to know the plan so spell it out in detail with them the night before including what is expected from them in regards to behavior. Make sure to let them know if you will not be with them for any portion of the day.
4. Bring snacks. Always keep some of your child’s favorite snacks on hand, including something that is a very special treat. Save the best one for the moment when you most need your child to be quiet and attentive.
5. Bring quiet, age appropriate toys and activities. A toddler trying to play a DS game in the middle of a wedding has the potential for disaster if they get frustrated or accidentally turn up the volume. Have your child help you pick out two or three toys or activities that can keep them occupied and only bring them out when appropriate. With my kids we bring doodle pros, coloring books, hot wheels, action figures, books and baby dolls.
6. Pack a change of clothes. This can be either a casual outfit or another dressy outfit. Children spill, have accidents, get dirty… you get the idea. If their formal outfit is uncomfortable and they do not need to be in it during the entire event, then bring something a little more casual. If the event is at night, bring jammies and change before the drive home. Your child will most likely be exhausted and fall asleep in the car!
7. Bring extra supplies. After you pack your bag, go back and add an extra diaper, pair of underwear, hair clip, pair of socks, sippy cup – whatever you think has the potential to get used up, dirty, or lost! It is way better to have too much than to run out.
8. Plan ahead. As much as we would love our children to sit quietly and patiently through every special event, it may not happen. Plan your seat accordingly, know where the exits and the bathrooms are located, and have a relative or friend prepared to assist you if possible. Locate a spot nearby before the event starts where you can take your child where you can calm them down or let them run around.
9. Keep your cool. Flying off the handle will not help the situation. If your child’s behavior is not meeting expectations, take them to a private area to sit them down and discuss matters. Disciplining them publicly during a special occasion will only make everyone feel uncomfortable and may not get the desired results. Let the child know specifically what behavior is not acceptable and explain what the appropriate behavior should be.
10. Have fun! Try to keep the day fun for all members of the family. You will get more out of the day if you stop and make sure your child is also having a good time. Be aware of their needs so they can be met and everyone will have a good time.