Summer time means family trips and family trips usually means fights, tired kids, and unmet expectations. But what if I told you that you could cut down on the stress and ramp up the fun?
Family Trips need a Pre-game Huddle
Before you even start packing suitcases, pack up the car and hit the road for that much anticipated trip,there’s some things you and your family can settle that will start chipping away at potential stress points:
- Talk about your destination and let each family member suggest an activity that he or she would like to do while on vacation. Don’t end the meeting until each person has offered a reasonable, affordable idea.
- Assign every family member a specific pre-vacation chore, like checking that all the lights are out or closing the blinds, or arranging for a neighbor to walk the dog.
- Instruct kids on what they need to pack and a few days before leaving, set up suitcases and let them begin packing. If you want, give final approval before the suitcases are zipped.
Family Trips Need a Game Strategy
With three kids and numerous family outings, I’ve learned that most conflicts are rooted in one thing: unmet expectations. One kid wants to stay at Disneyworld until the 10 pm fireworks; another is tired and wants to go back to the hotel. One kid wants to spend some money shopping at the local shops; another would rather find a sports bar and watch a baseball game. As a family, it’s important for you to have a vacation strategy. Take a few minutes to discuss expectations and come to an agreement before you leave for an activity. In that conversation, help your kids understand that learning to compromise is the only way you will be able to enjoy the day. This means that family members will take turns at getting to choose. It should not always be the youngest, quietest, or most compassionate making the concession.
After returning from one of our vacations, my youngest wrote my husband and I a note thanking us “for the great family dynamic you have made.” That dynamic is made through lots of shared experiences, some of them good, some of them great, and some of them pretty awful. But even when the memories are less than perfect–the car broke down or you got lost–you are making memories together, and can grow a family dynamic that your kids will always remember.
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