I love holidays but know they can bring their own challenges, and this may be especially so with adopted children…or any child with extra emotional needs.
We’ve found that our adopted children thrive off routine. I think it offers security and helps them to keep a sense of control. This works well for us in term time, but as soon as I decide it’s time to stop our more directed learning, I just want to throw routine to the wind and have less structured, relaxed days. However, I’ve learnt I just can’t do that. For years I’ve struggled with this; what I see as a treat, ie less boundaries and more freedom to choose how they spend thier time leads to a rapid nosedive in behaviour. And it seems unequal that while our birth children love this change, our adopted children just can’t cope with it. So, I’ve found some middle ground, where we have a new “holiday” routine for those kids who need it. For us this means keeping the morning the same; they have to get dressed, have breakfast and do any regular chores, before anything else. (A holiday treat for our birth children has always been to come down and watch TV in their pyjamas.) This seems such a small thing, but by starting the day with some normality, we’re in with a fighting chance of a more peaceful day.
And then there’s going away. For a child who’s had several moves already, this can be quite destabilising and even scary. What’s to make them think that leaving home this time would be any different from the others? Will they ever come back again? If separations have been traumatic, leaving relatives, friends or pets can be difficult.
We generally either camp or sometimes stay in a friend’s holiday house, so both are very familiar which I think really helps. There is also a familiarity about squeezing ourselves and all the camping gear into our van, and wherever we go, the tent is the same, as are their sleeping bags and the way we set up camp. (And often the food, as I’m not very imaginative when it comes to cooking).
Despite all this, Ive spent more camping holidays than I care to remember sitting in the toilet blocks, as toileting issues often come to the fore when a child is anxious. But, I’ve not had to do that for a couple of years now, so we can recognise good progress. And, we were amazed by how well our youngest adopted child coped with all the new experiences going to Italy. Again, I intentionally took some familiar toys and books, and I’m sure continuous iPad time on the plane helped! Or, maybe her security is more based in us, now; as long as we are all there, that’s ok.
Holidays are wonderful seasons within in our year, and I love having everybody home. Our days are never perfect, but I’ve learnt that a little insight and planning can enable us all to have the rest and fun we need, and even some time out for me!