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Roots and Routes: Your foolproof guide to family holidays in your home country

Roots and Routes: Your foolproof guide to family holidays in your home country

As I dropped of my 6 yr old to school and gave him a goodbye hug, I overheard a fellow mom say to another "It must be so exciting to go back to your home country for the holidays, so much family time, good food and the kids love it I'm sure!" 

There was a big eye roll in response followed by a long rant of how it's not all as easy and fun as it sounds. I had to empathise... 

With so many of us travelling back to our home countries or cities during this holiday season, amongst all the excitement, we tend to ignore the overly tired mammas and papas, the overwhelmed kids and the good intentioned grandparents and family members who all try their best to make this a special time for everyone. 

The differences in cultural environments is not always easy to navigate. 

While there are always a few pitfalls here is a tried and tested guide that we promise will make your holiday easier, more relaxed and fun!  

We've divided it into 2 parts... 


Teach basic phrases in your heritage language

Teach your little one with some basic phrases in the local language. Simply learning to say hello, how are you and thank you is a great way to help your little one connect with friends and family. When people are talking in their heritage language around them, they will not feel too ‘alienated’. A little goes a long way. 

Click here for more tips on introducing languages early. 

Prepare for people by telling family stories

Share family stories, anecdotes and pictures related to people your little one is likely to meet. They will feel more comfortable if they have heard you talk about them and seen their pictures as compared to meeting them as complete strangers. Trust us, little ones retain this information more than you think! 

Expand their palate and their taste buds

If you don’t want your little one eating only french fries and mac n’cheese during the entire vacay, slowly introduce your little one to a few traditional dishes, snacks, herbs, spices  from your heritage country. Encourage them to be open to trying new foods. Talk to them about flavors and tastes they can expect to eat. “We’ll be eating a dosa that’s just like the pancake you like, but it’s salty and not sweet.”

Prepare for sensorial changes

Talk about all the sights, smells, tastes and even the weather. Our little ones absorb information through their senses. They will be more likely to accept different smells, tastes and sights if you have talked about it with them earlier. 

Discuss activities and interests with family members in advance. 

Plan ahead. Talk to family members and discuss a few things that your little one might enjoy doing during their vacation based on their interests. We planned for roller blading with uncle, building sets with grandpa and nature play with grandma. 

Click here for more on nurturing a bond with grandparents while living far away.

Time zone change management 

If it feels right, you could start shifting your little one’s sleep schedule up or down to prepare them for the upcoming change. As soon as you arrive at your destination, try and start functioning according to local time immediately. Get plenty of sunshine and keep naps according to their usual routine. While it’s important to find a rhythm that works for you, remember it's your vacay too. So, if none of this works, just go with the flow. Follow the same approach for your return journey as well. 

The dreaded flight

Talk to your little ones about what they can expect. Dress them in layers and easy to wear, slip on shoes. Carry a change of clothes for you and them. Carry tiny little surprises/playthings. One for every hour of the flight. Art supplies, sticker books, books and healthy snacks will help keep them occupied during the flight. Carry kid size headphones for inflight entertainment but discuss in advance your rules for the same. 

Countdown to the trip

Setting up a daily countdown to the trip  a week in advance will help your little one mentally prepare for the journey, the people and the experience itself. It builds a sense of anticipation and gives them an opportunity and space to ask all questions and thoughts that pop into their heads. 


Take it easy for the first few days

Don’t pack your first few days with a million things. Let your bodies get used to the new environment, time zone changes, sleep routines, food, water and people. 

You can’t meet everybody & that’s ok

It will be tempting to meet everyone and everyone will want to meet you. But set boundaries that work for you and your little one. In an attempt to please everyone, don’t end up having a miserable time. 

Ease it in with the food 

Wanting to stuff yourself with all the yummy food is natural and understandable. But you and your little one's tummy may not be used to it. Give yourself time to settle in. 

Divide and Conquer 

Managing your little ones away from home, routine and in a new environment can be exhausting. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Lean on your village. If your little one is happy going off to the park with an aunt or a grandparent, give yourself a little break to recharge your batteries. Don’t insist on doing everything yourself. It’s also good for your little ones to build an individual connection with your loved ones. 

Parenting styles

In a new environment, parenting styles will differ. Stick to what works for you. If your little one is better rested when they sleep at 7 pm, make plans for earlier in the day. Stick to your non-negotiables and things that are most important to you. 

Random comments 

You may have to deal with a few random comments from ‘aunties’ or ‘well-wishers’ about your little one - how they look, what they eat and what you should be doing as a parent. You can respond by saying, ‘That doesn’t work for our family.’ or ‘ In our family, we prefer not to focus on (insert topic) but we focus  on this (insert topic) instead’ And change the topic of conversation. A quiet dignified response works best as our little ones are watching and learning from us. They take their cues from us. They will learn to say the same things when someone says something to them in the future. 


Depending on how long your visit is, departure can be emotionally hard for your little one. They may have formed strong emotional bonds during their trip and it can be hard for them to express how they feel. Prepare them for the upcoming departure. A countdown to departure will help them ease themselves back. Also highlight a few interesting things to look forward to when you go back.  It will give them something to think about instead of focusing on what they are leaving behind. 

Emotional Withdrawal 

After all the fun and festivities, coming back home can be hard on us and our little ones. Kids are more likely to express their feelings and emotions through behaviors rather than words, such as being more irritable or cranky and not wanting to go to school. Keep an eye out for a change in behavior. Talk to them about how they’re feeling. Let them know that it's okay to miss people and the place and you feel the same way too. 

Go with the flow!

Let’s face it! Things will go wrong, there will be a few sleepless nights, a couple of tummy upsets, tantrums, exhaustion and over stimulation but take a deep breath knowing that you will soon be heading back to your space and routine. Enjoy the journey. Try not to get too thrown off by the inevitable, not-in-your-control things that pop up. Take the pressure off yourself and your loved ones. This time and the memories you’re creating are precious. 

Stay Connected to Loved ones and the Experience

With our little ones, out of sight is out of mind. Make a little photo album that your little ones can revisit and share with their friends and family about their experiences and the people they met. This will keep their memories and connections alive. 


This article is the copyright of indigrowkids. At indigrowkids we are empowering kids and their grown ups to celebrate themselves and those around them everyday. Follow @indigrowkids for more play and conversation. And visit us here for more! 

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