I have two children, ages 2 and 4. I also have friends and family members in their 70’s and 80’s who love to visit. I would like to see them more often but I’m worried about how to contain my children and keep them happy, AND keep my friend’s “breakables” safe, all at the same time. Do you have some ideas?
First of all, you are not alone. Every parent for thousands of years has faced the same challenges with young children, and somehow vases and knick-knacks have survived! It is good that you are concerned about the relationships and property of others. That is the first step. Integrating your children into your visits can benefit everyone. Here are some ideas:
- Do not wait until you get to a friend’s house to train your children to be good visitors; practice at home. Go over rules for visiting and set aside time to pretend that you are calling on others.
- Put together a visiting box that travels with you and only comes out during those occasions. That keeps the toys and activities special.
- Invest in a portable play yard. These accordion-type versions of playpens are large enough to provide ample mobility for the children yet small enough to fold up and fit in the trunk of your car.
- Timing is everything! Factor in naps, lunch, and distance.
- Rent a big sister or a big brother! Bring a babysitter with you that can safely play with your children while you visit. Cousins or neighbors ages 8-12 make great semi-sitters.
- It is better to have short, successful visits often, rather than lengthy visits that taxes everyone’s patience.
Vicki and her husband Terry are the parents of eight children and were named Colorado Parents of the Year and Family of the Year, 2001. Vicki is the author of two books, many articles, former talk show host, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. To get your parenting questions answered, write to Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.