You Can Vacation With Children and Stay Sane: Here’s Eight Tips!
The holidays are rapidly approaching, and for many of you, that means traveling for family trips and holiday vacations is on the horizon as well. We’ve all had conversations around whether vacations with kids are really vacations at all. Maybe, for you and your spouse, they feel like you’ve packed your family up and moved to a different location with all the same responsibilities, emotions, and routines as before. So, is it possible to shift your perspective? Can you actually vacation with kids, enjoy yourself and your spouse, and rejuvenate your family and your marriage? Check out these tips, and pick a couple to put into play when planning your next trip with your kiddos. Thank us later!
1. Don’t discount the prep work.
You might be thinking, “Really? I was hoping for tips to enjoy my vacation, and the first tip is ‘Do work before vacation.’” Don’t lose hope yet. Try involving your kids in the planning process by talking to them and asking them questions—“What’s one meal you want to eat? What’s one activity you’d like to do? Here’s where we’re going, and here’s some things you can expect.” Better yet, if your children are old enough, let them do the prework to discover food and activity options where you’re going and bring them to a family meeting. Either way, this should get them excited, eliminate so many questions along the way, and relieve some stress off you. Also, remember to discuss with your spouse how you’ll share responsibilities like morning and bedtime routines, meals, packing, etc. Getting on the same page with one another will help you have realistic expectations.
2. Whether driving or flying, help your kids prepare for the journey, and engage with them along the way.
Ask your kids to draw a map from your home to your destination, and along the way, let them mark off the miles to see how close they are to arriving. Let your kids know ahead of time how much screen time they’ll have on the journey. Spouses—agree on this beforehand! Pack other activities such as coloring books or paper and pens to play tic-tac-toe. And don’t forget about playing the classics—the License Plate Game, Name That Tune, I Spy, and the Alphabet Game. Check out more road trip games that’ll make time fly and are still fun if you have older children.
3. Remember, you and your spouse are on the same team, and your kids see that.
Just like their eyes are watching and their ears are listening at home, the same goes for vacation. Connect with each other before the trip, whether you have a date night at home or away, and discuss logistics, so you’re on the same page and can work your plan together. There are bound to be details you missed or unexpected events that occur, so vow to stay on the same team, extend grace, and treat one another with respect, especially on a journey where it’s pretty much guaranteed that everything won’t go according to plan.
4. Choose travel time wisely, and build in breaks when possible.
If you know the morning of travel day will be hectic, don’t set yourself up for failure by booking the earliest flight or making a reservation for the day you arrive. Be flexible, and travel when it works best for your family. Additionally, if you’re road tripping, consider extending your driving time to include fun breaks along the way like lunch in a park. It may make your drive a bit longer, but it’ll give the entire family time to stretch their legs, breathe some fresh air, and rejuvenate for the next leg of the trip.
5. Plan trips with family and friends.
Just like you ask for help at home, don’t be afraid to ask for help on vacation. If your parents, in-laws, or another family you enjoy spending time with can tag along, try to plan a trip with them. Take turns watching the kids in order to give everybody a chance to rest or go on a date.
6. Schedule a full day at home before returning to normal work and school routines.
Just like we mentioned the prep work, don’t underestimate the impact of a full day to get back in the groove before heading back into your regular routine. Unpack at your own leisure, take naps, start some laundry, or do nothing at all. Either way, use this day to transition out of vacation mode and back into normal life mode.
7. Maintain realistic expectations.
No matter what, vacationing with kids is not the same as vacationing pre-kids. When you remind yourself of this going in, you can enjoy the process more because although it’s different, it doesn’t mean it’s bad or you won’t make lasting memories. Choose adventures everyone will love. If your kids get frustrated skiing, save that adventure for a getaway with just your spouse, and plan to go snow tubing with the whole family instead. Being realistic will certainly help curb some frustration.
8. Vacation without kids.
This may seem counterintuitive to this blog, but don’t forget the importance of vacationing without your kids. Keep your annual abandon with just your spouse on your radar, whether that’s a weekend or full week getaway. It’s vital that you have adult time with just the two of you, so don’t feel guilty about making this a priority for yourselves, too. Your family and your marriage will thank you!
Whether you’ve already had a family vacation this year, or it’s approaching on the calendar, save these tips. Our goal is to encourage your marriage, but we know, for many of you, kids are a large part of your puzzle right now. We hope you’ll find these tips helpful. Happy vacationing!