The big family summer vacation. Most of us look forward to it all year long. But sometimes your idea of fun and wonderful memories is not the same as what your kids have in mind. It’s so important to think this through ahead of time so you don’t end up with cranky, tired, crying kids instead of your ideal vision of hours of fun and laughter. Sometimes we just forget that our kid’s attention spans and energy levels are very different than our own. So plan ahead, and ensure smoother sailing!
Family vacations can be a great time for building memories, bonding with your kids and showing them the world, or they can be remembered for torturous days of such bickering and whining that work starts to sounds more relaxing than vacation. To try to avoid the latter, I’ve compiled a few tips for what I’ll call “Mindful Family Travel”* that helped us when we took a year-long journey with our then-12 year old twins. And, yes, most of them we learned the hard way.
1 – Time is not on your side
You may be an experienced traveler, but your kids probably aren’t. Young children may not understand the concept of timetables and short layovers. You know how it can take you 30 minutes to get out the door with your kids at home? Add to that suitcases, carry-ons, missing toys, and occasional meltdowns, and your leisurely hour to change trains may turn into a stressful 60 minutes of bribing and cajoling your kids to move across the station in time.
2 – I need my space, they need their space
I’m not just talking about physical space here. 24 hours of togetherness can be a tougher adjustment than you think. Give each other some down time, especially if there are introverts in the family.
You may all be crammed into one car, RV, or hotel room, but you can still give each other some mental space, even if it’s just letting dad head out for coffee on his own, or giving your 10-year-old time to read a book or, more likely, play Minecraft on the hotel computer, or letting mom watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the hotel bar.
Remember that different personalities have different requirements for relaxation. For me, a day of shopping in open-air markets followed by a massage sounds heavenly. For my husband, this would be like pulling out his fingernails. So sometimes we split kid duty for a day so we can each get what we need out of our vacation.
3 – Emergency snacks. Always.
This may seem obvious to some, but if you don’t normally see your entire family during the day, you may not realize just how much food they require to make it through the day happily. Growing children sometimes have growth spurts that make them much hungrier than normal, and much grouchier when they’re hungry. Adults may not have a problem skipping a meal, but kids don’t normally function well without adequate calories. Keep a package of nuts or crackers on hand for emergency meltdowns.
For 4 more great travel tips for a happier vacation, please continue here on alloverthemap.net.