Have you ever asked yourself, “What happened to my FUN family vacation?”
It is common to go into family vacations hopeful and excited, but 2 days later feel so exhausted by how badly things are unfolding that you just want to go home.
Don’t worry, 1 (or 100) disappointing endings does not predetermine your next trip!
Follow these Four Positive Family Vacation Tips to set your family up for fun and positive connection-filled time together:
1) Be realistic.
Consider what your children can do at home, then lower that expectation. If you expect to sit and read a book when there is a toddler around that may not be realistic.
Change your perspective around the experience…have the trip be about bonding not just fun.
Try this: talk with your children about THEIR expectations. Do they think they will get unlimited screen time? What experiences do they want to have?
2) Understand where your child’s behavior is coming from.
Realize children will be tired and out of the common routine. Routine provides a sense of internal security and helps children feel calm (Mad2Glad Parenting Pillar #7).
Without the usual structure and routine, children will begin to test the boundaries.
A change in diet and sleep habits adds stress for both the child and you!
Try this: set up a routine where you focus on ensuring children get solid sleep. Limit sugar since that can affect your child’s mood and ability to wind down.
3) Be proactive.
Before you leave, call a “family meeting” to discuss how things will work during the trip (Mad2Glad Parenting Pillar #4).
It’s a great time to get clear on both your expectations and your children’s expectations around things like screen time, food choices, sleep routine, water safety, etc. Discuss how to continue to honor your family rules during the trip and practice any new behavior.
Try this: Reinforce the use of your “take a break” system and find a break place at your vacation destination (Parenting Pillar #5). If you are in the car, have everyone take the break while remaining in their seats.
4) Set your kids up for success by recognizing good behavior.
Use heartfelt appreciation to reinforce the good behavior you want to see more of (Mad2Glad Parenting Pillar #3).
Try this: “When you turned off your iPad when I reminded you that you reached your allotted screen time, I was impressed, because it shows what a great listener you are.”
Most importantly, take the time to enjoy your child. Look for how their strengths shine through. Find ways to play and connect. Vacations are a great time to strengthen your bond with your children!
This guest article comes from Mad2Glad Parenting Coach, Suz Roemer Feely, who is a mother of 3 children: 2 gifted sons, ages 9 and 10, and a dynamic daughter, age 6. Suz and her husband work hard to create calm in their family and have found more calm AND deeper, more robust relationships with their children over the past few years. They enjoy summers at the cabin with extended family, Spring Break road trips, reading together and lots of sports activities.