One Way To Keep Connections Strong on Vacation

We long to relax and enjoy each other's company on vacation, but in new surroundings, after long journeys, children can feel out of sorts and disconnected, and often meltdown on holidays. Allocating one-on-one time builds in a regular time for reconnection through laughter and play that keeps connections strong.

Bring Special Time on Vacation

Here's how it looked for Hand in Hand instructor Yasmeen Almahdy:

“Last weekend, we went to a resort that had a nice play area for kids. My youngest daughter played a lot that evening and really enjoyed her time.

“The next morning, she asked to go to the same play area again. Although it was open, we discovered that the rides aren't in operation until 6pm. I was surprised but my daughter still wanted to play, and she asked to have Special Time at the play area.

“I set the timer and we went in. Since none of the games were working we imagined everything instead! She told me where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do, while I followed her lead.

“She asked me to walk across a bridge and imagine a fast-running river beneath.  I pretended to fall off the bridge and she rescued me, which made her laugh a lot.

“Once she was done with the river she told me that she wanted to go on “an adventure,” so we jumped over big blocks and went into a cave where we started screaming and laughing about how crazy we were being.

“Then, as she was running, she slipped and hurt her knee. She cried a bit as I cleaned it but very quickly she wanted to return to our Special Time. She was so excited and happy that she didn't seem to care about hurting her knee.

“She asked to do Special Time there every day for the whole of the four days we stayed there. During the time away, she was so bright and easy-going. By easy-going, I don't mean obedient but I did find that we were able to compromise and agree together about the daily plans of the trip.

“As for me, although I walked and ran a lot, I didn't feel tired at all. I really enjoyed that time with my daughter. I was easy-going too. Feeling that we could get along and understand each other made me very happy, relaxed and made the trip so much more enjoyable.”

How does Special Time Work?

Special Time is a parenting tool that helps build daily interaction and the connection kids need to feel seen and heard. In Special Time, the parent sets a timer, as Yasmeen did, and agrees to let a child lead the play time or activity for that time, with no disruptions. This puts the parent or caregiver's focus entirely on the child, for the child to drink up a parent's attention. Regular Special Time builds a greater connection between the child and the parent, and fills a child's cup, helping her shed light tensions and increase confidence that leads to greater understanding and cooperation.

Special Time can be used to:

  • Increase connection that builds security for the child.
  • Give a child permission to lead without criticism or other influences, a great way to boost confidence.
  • Provide an outlet for a child to play as he wants to, without having to deal with social hierarchy that comes from playing with friends and giving him or her a safe place to explore new games, practice skills, and play away fears.
  • Foster moments of lightness and laughter that helps children shed light tension and insecurity.
  • Cultivate moments for parents to focus on their child.

For more, read this chapter on Special Time from the book Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges

And download this free Special Time video series and checklist

Find out how special time works for other parents in How to Make Screen Time Special Time and Monday Blues are Cured by Special Time

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