November 18th, 2011
I often associate homesickness in children with summer camp, so to my surprise, Olivia has been expressing homesickness over several trips this year.
In August, my husband and I stayed at Hilton Waikoloa. We went with my cousin's family, and those are her favorite friends, so I thought she would be nonstop distracted and happy.
Instead, on the first night, she started literally crying for her grandparents. She was past her bedtime so the fatigue did not help the situation, and she said she missed Popo and Kung Kung and wanted to see them.
This homesickness mainfested the next night as well, but not as strongly. She usually sees her grandparents every day or every other day.
In October, the five of us went to Disneyland. Since we had the grandparents with us, I didn't expect any homesickness, but there it was - always at night, when she's tired - in the form of "I miss my house and my pets." It is always strongest the first night, not as bad the second, and gone by the third night.
Last week, the three of us stayed at a relative's house in Diamond Head so that I could bicycle to work during APEC. This was a fantastic house with a large yard and a pool. Again, more of her favorite things.
While she did use the pool morning and night, she complained at first of missing the dog and cat. So much so, that when the babysitter picked her up from preschool one afternoon, he took her back home to visit the furry friends.
I figured that it was more the change in routine than actual homesickness that was the issue. After all, the little changes and extra effort to disrupt my routine caused me a little grief (in the form of extra energy to think about what to pack, who will feed the pets, etc.), but at least I'm old enough to understand what we're doing and what the payoff is.
I recently saw this article online at BabyCenter.com which confirmed my theory:
"No matter how free-spirited and even defiant your preschooler can sometimes be, know that structure is the best thing for him and your entire household. When children don't know what's happening next, they can feel anxious. And anxious children are irritable, angry, uncooperative, and unhappy. Routines offer security and reassurance."
We are a very stable household. We do the same things day in and day out. As one would expect, we have become more routine-oriented since becoming parents. It's just easiest that way.
For every trip, I explained to Olivia what we were doing and why, but maybe I'm missing something. Is there something more I should have said than, "We're packing a suitcase because we are going to spend the week at Aunt Henrietta's house. It's for Mommy's work. You like the pool, it'll be fun."
Am I supposed to reassure her that we will be going home in five days? Or is this just a phase that she'll grow out of?
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