Travel to Attachment

by Jasmine Carlson on November 3, 2009

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When my foster brothers–who suffered with attachment disorder– were in some of the worst periods of their sickness, a therapist suggested that we travel.  It throws children in to one of their most dependent states. They don’t know anyone else, they don’t know where they are, they are not surrounded by the familiar items of their home. Often even their food and sleeping patterns change and flex according to the travel schedule. This, the therapist said, would make it an ideal situation for bonding, because you (as the parent) were the only constant, stable thing in their life.

I am about to go on a road trip with my (almost) 17 month old son. And not a small or short road trip either, we are going to Texas. We are driving from northern MN to Texas and then we will be spending 10 days there, not in the same place– we have to do some traveling in Texas as well– and then road tripping back. His schedule will be thrown off, his food will be different, he will have to spend hours confined to his car seat, he will have to visit people he doesn’t know (very well) and will have to wear disposable diapers. These are all very unsettling things in a small child’s life. I have found myself becoming increasingly nervous. Until I remembered what the therapist had said. Now my son, by no means, has an attachment disorder but I thought about what she had said and applied it to our upcoming situation and it has begun to turn my feelings of trepidation in to ones of excitement.

We are going to have a blast! We are going to get out of normal routine. We are going to spend all kinds of time together doing new and different things. We are going to experience things together in a whole new way. The “old” places to me are not going to feel “old” or routine this time because I am going to experience them through the eyes and emotions of my child. What an invigorating experience!

Through this trip we are going to continue to forge our attachment and on the other side of the thousand miles of road we will travel we are going to come out, still and again, a very bonded pair.

That being said, anyone want to leave some tips on how to keep this busy little man occupied and happy (as possible) during this long trip? (i.e. snack, games, toys, etc.)

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Jasmine Carlson (50 Posts)

Jasmine is a community living mama with a passion for fierce writing and fitness. She her way on Team USA by fitness coaching. Shaping Her. (www.shapingher.com) Join the conversation at (www.facebook.com/ShapingHer)


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandy November 4, 2009 at 12:04 am

My husband and I recently (as in 6 months ago) moved from Vermont to Wyoming. With our 5yr old … and our then-7month old (she’s 13mo now!), who was still exclusively breastfeeding.

Our oldest had a bag full of books, notebooks (to draw or write), crayons, pencils …. and there was a small plastic tub of toys FULL inbetween the two of them, so they could play.

My husband would also hop on back there and sit between them, when necessary, and play with them or read to them while I was driving.

We’d also play “I Spy” and such easy games. Oh and singing various songs we knew. Having a couple cds with kids songs on them helps too.

And stop often (we had to stop every 2hrs, usually, to nurse our youngest … sometimes, if she napped, we could stretch it to 3hrs). Somewhere that you can get out, stretch, run around and play a bit. Don’t be in a rush. If you take your time … and don’t cut the stops short … and have some small things to occupy him in the van … you’ll do GREAT!

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sarah November 4, 2009 at 6:08 am

I hope all goes well! Road trips can be a blast, and what a great way you have to look at it! I love the closeness of being in the car with my kids without all the extraneous distractions of life. As for how to keep them occupied, I have found the website momsminivan.com to be very valuable!

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Julie November 4, 2009 at 12:49 pm

We traveled to Ireland when my daughter was 13 months old, and it was amazing! I was scared and nervous, especially because my daughter has always had very poor sleeping habits and is very “clingy”. But she not only rolled with it, she taught us all a thing or two, and slept all night long every night (1st time ever, or since) plus an additional three naps a day in the car! It was so exciting for her that it wore her out, but since we were with her, she had no fear. I hope your trip goes just as well!

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Carrie November 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Thank you for this perspective – I am a very ‘routine’ oriented person & my son is, too, consequently, he hates to be thrown off his schedule (at 23 months!). :) So this is a good perspective to remember when we travel. As far as making it easier, two things that I have found that really help in the car are: Snacks – these Munchkin brand snack catcher cups – you can find them online or at Target – make it so easy to put a snack (crackers, cereal, etc.) or even a few chicken nuggets in & hand them to your child so they can eat a snack while you drive. And it’s a challenge to get the food out so it keeps them busy. :) Also, my son found a Barney Learning Laptop at the thrift store a few weeks ago, and he is SO happy playing with it in the car!!! When we go on long road trips, I just keep handing him stuff – I keep a big bag of toys in the middle of the backseat. :)

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Karen November 5, 2009 at 5:48 pm

We took our 16 month old daughter on a road trip this summer, and had a great time. I second all the comments above, and will add this: One of the best purchases we made was one of those folding high chairs that clamps onto a table top. That way if you end up eating at a picnic table, someone’s house, or a restaurant that doesn’t have high chairs, you’re not out of luck. Also, if you have room in your vehicle for a cooler, then you can take along some of his favorite foods. It’s not a crime to take some small containers of food into a restaurant so he can eat things he’s used to.

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