Here are our top tips to reduce the likelihood of your children’s meltdowns while visiting your relatives this Chinese New Year.
Set Expectations with Your Partner and Family
First, set realistic expectations with your partner. Know that your previous pre-baby visiting schedule may have to be reduced, or spaced out over two to three days. Agree on a set number of houses you can visit, the duration of each visit, and limit the amount of cookies or treats your toddler should have.
Work as a team through the visiting, so that neither parent gets overly stressed and you both can (mostly) enjoy the festivities. Plan for worst-case scenarios, like your toddler having a meltdown or being over-tired. Most of all, don’t be afraid to do what’s best for your child and leave early, if necessary.
Pack a “Doraemon” Bag with All the Essentials
Essentials for Chinese New Year include an extra set of clothes, diapers, pyjamas, porridge, milk or snacks. Remember a carrier for baby to sleep in, and her favourite soother to help her get to sleep.
For toddlers, bring a stash of his/her favourite toys, activity books, colour pencils and stickers etc., to keep your child entertained and possibly ward off a meltdown.
Dealing With Well-Meaning Relatives
Let’s be real: some of your well-meaning relatives will get on your nerves. Examples of these include asking you one of those annoying questions, giving you unsolicited parenting advice or even just giving your child one of those “once-in-a-year” treats. Listen, but filter accordingly, and gently remind your relative you know your child – and how much he can handle – best.
Work around your babies’ napping schedule, and bring a carrier for them to sleep in on-the-go. One strategy might be to get baby to sleep at the first house, and then once she awakens, head to the next house and so on. Another might be to schedule their travelling time in the car around their naps, so both toddler and baby can get some rest before the next house.
Where possible, have lunch at home, and schedule two hours for a nap for your little ones – and if need be, yourselves. Otherwise, your parents’ or in-laws’ places might work as well, assuming your child is comfortable there.
Minimise disruption to his sleep routine by bathing your baby before you leave the house, and later change him into his pyjamas so he can sleep in the carrier once tired.
Before Heading Out
Take care of your child(ren)’s needs by feeding them, whether it’s an actual meal or just a snack. Likewise, make sure they’ve got a clean diaper and have used the potty before leaving the house. This will hopefully reduce the incidences of having an emergency on the road.
Prepare Your Toddler in Advance
Aside from teaching him the Chinese New Year greetings and actions, make sure he also knows what to expect. For example, which relatives he’s going to meet, and what to do when relatives give him food. Also, pre-empt him that if he feels overwhelmed at meeting so many (relatively) new faces, he can hold your hand for support.
Set expectations for his behaviour, such as handing you the angpows when he gets them, not running around or yelling, and to try to be on his best behaviour.
Interacting with Relatives
Upon arriving at your relatives’ houses, help your toddler greet your relatives using the correct term, and Chinese New Year greetings. Your child may shy away from his relatives, so give him time to warm up. Try to arrive before other guests so your child has time to familiarise himself with his surroundings. Make sure your child is comfortable hugging or kissing your relatives. If not, gently ask your relatives to refrain from doing so. Also, do note that your child’s immune system is not very strong. Hence, your relatives’ well-meaning kisses may inadvertently transmit some viruses, so you may want to discreetly clean your child afterwards.
In Case of Tantrums, Break Glass.
Distract, distract, distract.
Defuse the situation by offering her another activity or object. Otherwise, change the environment by bringing her out of the room or home.
If your child is crying for attention, sometimes the best route is to ignore this behaviour, don’t address it and move on to another activity. Refuse to acknowledge his shouting, whining or interrupting, and do not look at him or talk to him. Obviously, you will have to strongly discipline him if he’s hurting himself or other people.
Take Her to A Quiet Corner
Bring your child away from the crowd, to a quiet corner, whether it’s outside the house or in a room. Keep calm and tell your child to stay in the room until she regains control. Allowing her to know that her actions affect the outcome will help give her a sense of control. However, set a time limit if her actions included hitting anyone.