Picnics and Parties and avoiding the meltdown

The weather is starting to change and everyone is trying to fit in some last outdoor fun activities ahead of the cold. We have been doing some reflecting on how to make the most of these times while avoiding the meltdowns that often follow afterwards with little ones. Here are some of our favourite tips:

  • feed your child before you get there – most babies, toddlers and even older children do not eat well when there are so many other interesting activities distracting them, and of course their food choices may gravitate towards the sugar laden treats! Feed them at home or, if they can manage it, pack an exciting on-the-go lunchbox for the car trip there.
  • make sure they drink plenty of water – take their own water bottle along and encourage them to drink often. With so much fun going on they may miss their own bodies signals that they are thirsty.
  • dress them in comfortable clothes – cute party dresses and little shirts make for amazing photos, but being uncomfortable or unable to move freely can be very frustrating for your child. The build up of this over the course of the day can push your little one over into meltdown as their sensory systems are already taking in and trying to manage more than usual during parties especially.
  • have a few breaks in between  – depending on your child’s sensory personality and their age, take some breaks from all the busyness of the outing. You could go for a short walk to a quieter part of the park or party area, perhaps hunt for some bugs or look for different types of birds. Putting a baby in a baby carrier and going for a walk may result in your little one getting a much needed nap before rejoining everyone again.
  • use some sensory-smart tools – deep hugs and squeezes are calming while tickly or light touch will have the opposite effect. Being pushed and bumped constantly can be very overwhelming for some little ones and simply moving them to the edge of the activity, doing it with them or taking a break now and then can help to temper some of these intense feelings. Chewing crunchy foods and sucking are also very calming for your child’s sensory system, so help them pick some snack items accordingly.
  • leave before the wheels fall off! – most of us know the limits of what our children can manage, according to their sensory personalities. Pay attention to reading the subtle cues your little one gives you and make plans to leave before they are unable to manage their responses and they are heading towards meltdown. These cues may be as simple as yawning, staring off into space or being more clingy than usual. They may also be unable to share space with other children so easily or you find they are not able to focus enough to follow simple instructions.
  • most importantly…have fun!  when you are relaxed and having fun your children tend to follow your example.

We wish you all loads of exciting outings in the days and weeks to come. Please share with us all your favourite outing destination. There must be so many we haven’t tried yet!Toddler tree

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