Holidays can be a difficult time for some adoptive families. The change to routine can lead to anxiety for some children and the idea of leaving their home for a period of time can be as unsettling as it is exciting.

As with all transitions, preparation is key, and we have put together some advice and tips for how to prepare for holidays.

Ask yourself if your child is ready to be taken on holiday

It can be very exciting when a child is first placed, and it’s understandable to be eager to take them on the holidays they may have missed out on in the past. As exciting as it is, stop and ask yourself if your child is ready for this.  Would further changes to their routine and environment cause them more distress?

Unfortunately, some children will always find change hard to cope with, so have realistic expectations. Keep holidays and outings low-key and achievable and don’t feel obligated to take children away from home until you’re sure they’re ready.

Prepare

Some children needs lots of preparation.  Show them photos, maps and google earth so they can see where they are going. Help them prepare for what to expect with the journey, and have realistic expectations about what they can cope with.

If you're flying, prepare them for the noise and feeling and help them understand the science behind being in the air.

Talk about food and keep reassuring your child when they will eat and what the food will be like. Take familiar favourites from home and as far as possible try to keep eating habits similar to home.  Leaving pets can be anxiety provoking and trigger memories of previous losses, so make your child part of any care arrangements for your pets so they can feel reassured.

Stay linked with home

Pack things that remind them of home – these are called transitional objects – especially things that smell of home, such as pillowcases.  Factor in phone calls to loved ones so children know they haven’t disappeared or forgotten about them. Talk about things you will be doing at home once you get back, to reassure children they will be coming home.

Take the right documentation

If you are travelling pre adoption order you will need written consent from the Local Authority.  Even post order it might be useful to have documents to hand, especially if you have a different surname to your child.

Please visit the gov.uk website for the latest information.

Whether you go away or not this summer, enjoy the school holidays and the opportunity to spend more time with your children. Whether you're at home, or on the beach - relax and have fun.

Two toddler girls playing on a beach

Useful resources

The Airport Book, 2016, by Lisa Brown

Look Inside Things That Go (Usborne Look Inside), 2013, by Rob Lloyd Jones (Author), Stefano Tognetti (Illustrator)

Pilot Academy: Are You Ready For The Challenge, 2018, Steve Martin (Author), Lucy Banaji (Illustrator)

Peppa Pig: Family Trip, 2018, Neville Ashley & Mark Baker