Vacations are great for parents. But they are even more memorable for kids. That’s because, for many of them, it is their first chance to explore the world. The experiences that they have away from home stay with them for a lifetime.
Family vacations, however, are about more than just “seeing the world.” They are also an opportunity for all of you to really get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company.
Spending time with family is challenging when you have school, work, and activities on the weekends. However, vacations are different. Here, you’re with your family all the time so you finally have an opportunity to get to spend time with one another on a deeper level.
Vacations with kids don’t have to be stressful. In fact, you can arrange them in such a way that you feel more refreshed when you return home. However, many families experience so-called “vacation stress syndrome.” This happens when all the changes mount up and it all becomes hard to cope with. It can affect adults and children alike.
You can view this post as a kind of survival guide. We will explore how to make your next vacation with your kids work for everyone. You’ll learn what you need to do to reduce stress and just enjoy the vacation for what it is.
Tell Kids What To Expect At Every Stage
Children have a propensity to feel overwhelmed by change. Small perturbations in their environment can lead to distress.
The trick here is to discuss everything that is likely to happen in advance. Tell your children where you are going, what you will be doing and what they will need to do to prepare. Let them know if they have to sit on an airplane for a long time or endure a car journey.
If they are struggling to understand, collect some photos and show them visually where you will be going. Talk to them about the physical challenges that they might face or the new food they might eat. Also discuss the weather with them if you are going somewhere particularly hot or cold. Explain that they will have to wear plenty of sunscreen or wrap up warm to protect their bodies.
Discuss The Purpose Of A Vacation
Don’t assume that kids automatically understand the purpose of your vacation. Usually, they won’t. They will simply see it as a continuation of their regular life in a new place if they are still young.
The primary purpose of a vacation for most parents is to recharge. You need a break from work to reset your mind and feel more refreshed. However, there can be other reasons for going on a break. For example, you might want to connect more closely with your kids or explore the history of an area. You might also want to go on an adventure and leave city life behind for a while. It is entirely up to you.
Try To Manage Yourself
Try To Manage Yourself
Another thing that you can do is take better control of your own emotions. Before you go on vacation, accept that it is going to be chaotic and that things will go wrong. Prepare yourself for something that falls short of perfection.
Often as parents, we experience stress while travelling when we believe that we need to stick to a rigid itinerary. If we feel that we aren’t making the most of the time, we feel a sense of loss. We get angry and frustrated because family members are getting in the way of our fun.
If you can, try not to be like this. Instead, be grateful for the time that you have. Vacations only come along rarely, so you must enjoy them to the full while you have the chance. You never know when the next pandemic will strike and put a stop to travel altogether.
Set Aside Downtime
Some families believe that they need to make every second of their vacation count. They wake up at 6 am sharp and don’t stop until they go to bed at 10 pm. You can maintain this pace for a day or two, but if you carry on, you’ll wind up feeling exhausted.
Instead, try scheduling some downtime. Find opportunities to relax between activities. And once it gets past 4 pm, don’t pressure yourself to do anything - not even prepare dinner.
Having downtime is what helps your entire body refresh. You’ll notice that after a meditation, nap or yoga session, you feel energized and ready to take on the world again.
Be Mindful Of What You Eat
People don’t think much about what they eat on vacation. After all, they want to have a good time. However, you should seriously consider your diet while you are away. Eating poorly for just a week can depress your mood and make you feel as though you lack energy.
If you can, prepare as much food for you and your family as possible. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to keep your strength up, and avoid the temptation to consume mountains of fast food.
Go Somewhere That Caters Specifically To Kids
Another great idea is to take your kids somewhere that caters to their needs specifically. For instance, instead of taking them to a beach town, go to Disney World instead. Families visiting during November can enjoy a range of seasonal events and go on all the usual rides.
Bring Sleeping Aids With You
Sleeping on vacation can be a challenge. Travel, noise, bright lights and a new environment can all make it hard to get your regular seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night.
That’s why many families bring sleeping aids with them. Things like sleeping masks, ear plugs and portable blackout curtains all allow you to get quality rest, no matter what is going on around you.
If you or your kids are still struggling, you can bring white noise machines with you. These help to block out noises for all members of the family and allow you to fall into a deeper, more restful state.
Be Age-Appropriate In Your Expectations
Parents often expect a lot from their children on vacation. They believe that they should behave and enjoy all the activities organized for them.
But that’s not always realistic. When children are young, they aren’t able to recognize the significance of what they are doing. Many simply don’t have the necessary attention spans to remain engaged.
As a parent, you need to prepare yourself for this. Be age-appropriate in what you expect from your kids. In many cases, they will be too young to remain absorbed in a book. It will be hard for them to concentrate for an hour or more. Instead, find alternative sources of amusement that you can deploy when things get challenging. Find ways to keep them entertained.
Arrive At The Airport Early
If you’re planning on flying with your kids, remember to arrive at the airport early. You want to leave plenty of time to get to your flight gate. It can take a long time for security staff to process you.
Before you get onto the plane, give each child a “present” containing various things that the child can use to entertain themselves on the flight. Good ideas include coloring books, puzzles, craft items, and treats. Tell your children that they can open the gifts once they get onto the aircraft and strap themselves into their seats. You’ll notice that when you offer a reward, they will behave themselves almost perfectly.
Keep Kids On Their Regular Schedule
If you’re travelling to the other side of the world, then it will disrupt your kids’ regular schedule - there’s not much you can do about that. However, you should keep their schedule as close to normal as you can. Even if you are changing location, you want to keep a sense of predictability in their lives. Sticking to a strict eating and sleeping schedule helps to maintain the normal balance.
Coach Your Kids On Their Behavior While On Vacation
Because vacations are stimulating for children, it changes the way that they behave. As a parent, therefore, you’ll want to coach them in advance. But how do you do this?
Simple, really. Just think through various situations that might come up and then talk to your children about them.
For example, if you’ve booked a hotel, you might coach your children on being quiet in the corridors. Just tell them that other guests might be sleeping and need them to keep the noise down.
You can also explain to them that different cultures have different expectations. So, for example, in some places, children may need to be quiet when they eat.
Explain to your children that they have plenty of time to practice. Just try it with them. Eventually, they will get the hang of it.
In summary, travelling with kids can be a challenge. But so long as you prepare mentally and physically, it can also be an enjoyable experience. Hopefully, you’ll all return from your vacation feeling relaxed and refreshed.