Not everyone has the opportunity to travel with their nieces and nephews, but those of us who do are truly blessed, for sure!
My sister has a son, and whenever I get the chance to see him – he becomes my whole world! He is five and he is my sister’s firstborn. When she had him, it was the most wonderful moment in our lives – the whole family welcomed him with an open embrace, a warm heart, and thoughts of joy, blessings and grace. We’ve all been involved in his upbringing since day one and now that he’s grown a little, I’ve felt it would be great if the two of us went on a road trip together! Obviously, my sister wasn’t that thrilled about spending even a second away from him, but after I talked her into it, she’s finally given her consent to let me snatch him away and have some aunty-nephew quality time. Yaaay!
To all of you loving aunts out there who want to start building a strong bond with your nephews and nieces from the get-go, here are a few tips I believe will help you get there (they did help me).
Understand the parent(s)
If you’ve been denied the opportunity to be one-on-one with your niece or nephew, especially if it’s for a few days, don’t take it personally. Parents have a very weird connection with their kids where they trust absolutely no one until the kids are (almost) fully grown. Naturally, this depends on a parent and how trustworthy they are, as well as on the way they see you. If you’ve been responsible with everything and everyone so far, expect them to give in after a few negotiations and carefully laying down your plan about the travel.
…and then talk to them about your plan
After the parents have given their blessing for this holiday, instill them with confidence by carefully laying out your detail plan about what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be going and how vigilantly you’ll be focused on your nephew. Naturally, explain to them that you’ll need some crucial information on the kid (their basic habits, medical information, toys they like, foods they particularly like/hate, what they like doing, etc) that you aren’t that familiar with. This will show them you are serious and focused, for sure.
Know where you are going
Being that crazy, wacko aunt is fun… when the kid is 16. However, when they’re too little to know anything but their favorite toys, being responsible is better than being crazy fun. Before even proposing the idea to your sister of going away with her kid, know where you’ll be going. Do all the necessary research on the destination, ask around about accommodation, make sure the length of the trip fits your and your nephew’s needs, etc. Driving around clueless is cool when you are going away with your boyfriend or friends. When you’ve got a little kid in the back seat of your car, knowing where you are headed is vital.
Communicate everything with your nephew/niece
Although your nephew is still little, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he likes and wants. Once you’re set with the parents that you are going, talk to your nephew about the music he’d want in the car (while you are traveling), what snacks to bring, and the type of fun he’d like to do. Hell, you can even ask him to choose the destination! Also, know that it’s very important to have the kid’s favorite toy with them, especially if you are going on a long(er) car trip. Once they spend too much time in a car seat, they’ll get fussy and nervous, so having their favorite toy with them is key. My nephew would never think of going on a trip (or even to the bathroom of that matter) without his favorite Angus & Dudley Collections soft doll called Darcy. Let me tell you this: he is so obsessed with it that I slept on the sofa throughout our 7-day vacation so that Darcy could sleep in the king-size with him. Oh well.
Get all the medical information
Ask your sister about all the medical information necessary in case of an emergency: allergies, potential reactions to food, medicine they take (if they do), etc.
Pack things up thoughtfully
This trip is different to all the previous trips you’ve taken with your besties or boyfriend. Unlike those times, this time around it doesn’t really matter if you’ll be wearing a glittery dress when you go out in the evening or Capri pants and a T. Comfort is key. The same goes for your nephew. Ask your sister to assist with her kid’s packing. After all – she knows this stuff best.