"We once lived here!" my three-year- old exclaimed as we were parking our car in front of our home. We had just returned from a three-week vacation in the Quebec Laurentians. I was stunned that my youngster had assumed the Laurentians home to be a permanent move.

Young children don't know what we have in mind when we change their familiar surroundings. Here are ways to ease the transition between vacation and home for your youngsters.

Young children don't know what we have in mind Have your children bid farewell to family and friends, saying "See you later." A kid friendly calendar to mark departure and arrival date was most helpful for my nephew, four year old Aaron from Montreal. It put a halt to his nagging question of "When are we leaving already?" and once at the hotel, "When are we going home?"

We will be coming back home soon," Sarah tells her children before any trip, comparing vacation like a visit to the park, "except that vacation takes longer." She finishes with a smile.

Your children can help you pack their own suitcase, giving them advance warning to an upcoming trip. At homecoming time have them return their things in the same suitcase for a tangible feel of "we go" and "we come home".

Souvenirs, too, play an important role. It brings their vacation experience home with them. Talk about the return home and the family and friends that they will meet again. Don't forget to mention her room and her very own bed. "Teddy bear can't wait to sleep in your bed again."

Children thrive on consistency. A toddler taken out of familiar circumstances makes an anxious, worried toddler. It is therefore important to prepare them for changes and events out of their normal schedule.

Talk to your children about the climatic changes in your vacation city: Here it's cold, but in Florida it will be very hot, so what clothing will we take along? A different culinary style may displease your toddler. It's a good idea to keep a supply of favorite foods on hand. Look for children's books that deal with the quandary your child might face in your vacation town.

Magazine clippings from the vacation resort Sarah was going to visit found their way into her son's album. She also added pictures of family members they were going to meet. Empty spaces were left for pictures of new friends or unexpected events they were going to come by.

"It helped my son expect and accept his new surroundings," she said. "What most surprised me was the ease at which he accepted family he had only seen in the album," she added, "and this is from a shy child," she finished with a laugh.

Designate your child his/her very own chair, bed and place to put their things. Give your child opportunities to claim things as his own.

Give your child opportunities to claim things as his own Riva from Toronto had a lot of trouble with three-year-old David at meals as he refused to sit without his booster seat at grandma's house. Phone books to give him height didn't appease him and a tantrum was on its way. At the spur of the moment grandma appeared with an office chair and 'sold' it to David for his sweater. The tactic worked. David ate his meals on his very own chair.

Bring along favorite items, like a water toy to make bath time more pleasant. It brings familiarity to an unfamiliar place.

Sometimes you need to travel light. As an alternative, you could bring a picture of the item or if child is old enough have her draw it. Use imagination to put a substitute item in its place.

Bedtime becomes a nightmare for those "I want my own bed" children. What now? I have my children pack their bedtime favorites in a sleeping bag. Everything goes. Big bird, two favorite books, teddy bear blanket with matching pillow and her choice of pajamas, of course. When it's time for bed I call all his sleep mates to come to bed. It helps him settle down for the night with minimal fuss.

Eliminate unnecessary 'no, no's'. Have great-aunt childproof her home, or do it yourself. Get plants out of the way. Close off open staircases, remove breakable items from reach, etc.

"There are no toys in my mother in law's house," my friend lamented. "Then she complains that the children play around with the Venetian blinds." Try bringing along an interesting toy to keep your children out of dangerous places. Part of the vacation budget could be getting new toys or games as a vacation souvenir.

Reassure your children along the way about the changes taking place. He'll need extra comfort at bath-time and bedtime to put his mind at ease.

Lessen his apprehension through preparing him for the trip, whether through pictures, story books or packing his own suitcase. Tell your children what places you will be visiting, and what will be done there.

Once there, point out the differences between the Vacation City and your hometown, as well as the different types of housing, food and dress. Don't forget to snap pictures of all the differences for a scrapbook. Your youngsters will love looking at it again and again.

Have a good trip!