how we handle the "fun hangover"
We're finally home from our giant summer trip! I'll recap some of our adventures soon, but wanted to address a more pressing matter today: the toddler fun hangover. After 17 days of traveling, being spoiled by grandmas, and virtually no schedule whatsoever, the return to real life has been met with some...resistance. Nap battles, constantly needing to be held, and mealtime struggles become the norm for a few days while we return to routine, resulting in a period of fussiness I like to call the "fun hangover."
Now, I now that grandmas basically live to spoil their grandkids, and staying up too late is part of sleeping in a weird place. So, I don't think that the fun hangover can or even should be totally prevented. But I did want to share some of the ways that we try to mitigate its effects and return to normal relatively quickly:
Prevention is the best medicine. It probably goes without saying, but the best way to manage a fun hangover is to prevent it to begin with by sticking to your routine when you're not at home: healthy meals, normal mealtimes, normal bedtime. I've even been known to stack the deck in our favor by bringing Logan's sheets with us so his bed smells as much like home as possible. That being said, I'm all about all things in moderation, including (sometimes) moderation. And sometimes, you end up eating french fries at a restaurant at 9:00 pm instead of adhering to bedtime. Then you can chalk it up to "making memories"
Opt for "routine lite". Once we're home, we do our best to return to a normal routine as quickly as possible. However, that doesn't mean that we're back to 100% on day one. Instead, we spend a couple days easing back into our routine so that it's not too much of a shock. Typically, this means that I emphasize all the important aspects of our day (3 healthy meals, a reasonable nap time, etc) but let up on some other rules (allow some screen time, lie with Logan until he sleeps at nap) so that it's not too much, too quick. We also try to schedule fewer things in our first week back so that our days can move a little slower if need be.
Emphasize healthy eats. I don't typically do a lot of cooking when we're away from home, which leaves us to the dietary whims of our family's cooking, and definitely involves a lot more treats and eating out. Once we're back at home, though, I emphasize healthy food that Logan loves to get all of us back on track with normal life. Usually, this means putting fruits, veggies, and protein in every meal. I also stick to offering snacks that aren't high in sugar. I'm fortunate enough to have a very enthusiastic eater on my hands, which generally makes this step easier.
Babywearing is (still) your friend. Even though we don't babywear on a daily basis anymore, I use a back carry in our lillebaby carrier or tula ring sling during the fun hangover. That way, I can give Logan the cuddles he craves while I attack the mountain of laundry and other chores that accompanies our return home. So, even if your little one is beyond the newborn stage or isn't worn frequently anymore, don't be afraid to at least try a little time in a back carry to see if it helps out.
Plan some fun. The ultimate root cause of the "fun hangover" is too much fun and too little schedule, so while we're easing into that schedule, I also like to plan one or two fun, free activities in the few days after we return home. Things we love include trips to the park, the city pool, or the public library. This has the added bonus of breaking up our day a little bit, and making sure Logan is good and tired when nap time rolls around.
Give space and grace. Last, but certainly not least, give yourself space and grace! If we're being honest with ourselves, we're likely suffering from a little bit of fun hangover too, but we're adults who can express our tiredness and sadness that vacation is over by using our words and binge-watching Parks and Recreation. Kids don't have that, they've got big feelings and tiny bodies and virtually no control over their lives. So, grant your kids some space and grace, and grant yourself some too. It's ok if the laundry takes a few days, or if you get pizza for dinner one night. Turn on a movie and soak up those cuddles while you can.
Do you experience the fun hangover at your house? How do you handle it?