Surviving Family Reunions With Small Children
Large groups of people. Lots of cooking and eating. Possibly a campfire or charcoal grill. Many eyes, but all of them are distracted. Family reunions and other large gatherings pose a few risks for small children. But don't avoid your spouse's family! Plan ahead and keep cool during the event, and everything will be just fine for you and your baby.
The most common problem at large gatherings is that there are so many adults, but all of them tend to think someone else is watching the children. It is safe to assume that if you aren't watching your kids, nobody else is either. When attending a reunion, the safest option is to set aside an area for the kids, and assign two to three adults or teenagers to watch. Take turns so that nobody is left out of the fun for too long.
If a children's area isn't practical (or no one else likes the idea), be sure to have a good stroller with you. Strollers are easy to move about the area to visit long lost cousins, aunts and nephews, and is an excellent way to restrain your child when you aren't sure running around is safe. People may not look down to see a small child, possibly injuring the child or tripping the adult. In a stroller, the child is safe and everyone else is, too.
Cooking and cleaning duties need to be assigned to people other than parents of small children. It is kind to offer your help in the kitchen, but taking care of your own child is more important for both the child and others in the group. Don't be ashamed to excuse yourself by saying so. Offer to take on another responsibility, such as bringing the ice or loaning your stereo equipment for the event.
When it is time for your child's nap, select a quiet place where you can keep an eye on the stroller. Pull up the canopy and allow the child time to doze off. Missing nap time is unpleasant for the child, and the rest of the group as well. Be mindful of the child's regular sleeping and eating schedule, and have snacks and drinks in case dinner is served later than it usually is in your home.
Bring antibacterial wipes. In a large group of people, chances are someone has a cold or virus. Instead of keeping loving relatives and friends away from baby, simply clean his hands and face, as well as your own hands, regularly to prevent the spread of germs. The younger the child, the more important it is to protect her from bacteria.
Finally, commit to enjoying the occasion. With a well packed stroller and diaper bag, you and your baby can handle anything. Even the in-laws.