“I need a vacation FROM vacation.”
As a child, I remember being perplexed by this statement. Now, as a parent myself — I totally get it.
So much money, effort, and mental energy go into planning a family vacation. Parents often create undue stress and pressure for themselves as they try to control every detail to ensure their long-anticipated vacation will be “picture perfect.”
Sound like you? Then you already know how the story ends . . . tagging your vacation story with something like #ParentFail as you share your trip’s tale of woe on Facebook.
I’ve got 2 ideas to enhance your peace of mind before — and after — your next trip:
1. Get your kids involved in the planning process, and
2. Keep the amount of activities on your itinerary limited.
Let me break it down
into a few simple steps . . .
- Call a family meeting — This is a great way to open the lines of communication. At our house, we sometimes even use Robert’s Rules of Order to make a special event out of the meeting. Holding a family meeting for vacation planning empowers your child to be part of the decision-making process. Better yet — once the family vacation begins, your child will be more likely to simply “go with the flow” since he or she got to shape the itinerary and knows what to expect. (If this is your first family meeting, click here for tips and tricks for success.)
- Have each family member pick 1 must-do vacation activity — Most vacation destinations offer an unlimited amount of entertainment. Tell your child upfront that there’s no way to see EVERYTHING the area has to offer. Let your child know that at the next family meeting, each member of the family will get to choose ONE must-do activity for the trip. Be sure to communicate that your child’s choice is important to you and that you’re saving a spot in the schedule for his or her preferred vacation activity.
- Research activity choices together — End the meeting by asking your child if he or she would like to look at activity choices with you. Have your computer pre-set with tabs of websites that showcase reasonable options. If you have printed brochures or pamphlets, show your child pages you’ve tagged and options you’ve circled. Involve your child in researching what the activity entails, what the cost is, and if a reservation is required. This gives children ownership over the details of their chosen activity.
Of course, all these tips are easier said than done. Stop over at Let’s Lasso the Moon today for a few additional tips for vacation-planning success.
This summer, my family is traveling to the Black Hills. It’s our first trip to South Dakota, and I noticed that near the national park, there are several over-the-top, commercialized activities my girls will no doubt beg to stop and see. I’d rather our family vacation be about enjoying the wonders of nature (not the wonders of mini-golfing). So at our first family meeting, I pro-actively pointed out preferred activities my girls would enjoy. My daughter Quinn chose to make reservations to horseback-ride through the national park. My other daughter, Rose, decided she wanted to participate in the Jr. Paleontology Program at The National Mammoth Site. My husband wants to go cave spelunking, and I chose for us to go kayaking.
We’re all excited to see that our vacation itinerary includes this personalized array of “must-do” family activities! Once your child has an activity picked, keep the enthusiasm going. For example, we’ve been studying fossils and dinosaurs in preparation for Rose’s Jr. Paleontology Program. Quinn has been enjoying doing Melissa & Doug Horse Jigsaw Puzzles. (And I admit, we have an adorable Blaze Firefly Kids’ Flashlight we’ve taken out in preparation for my husband’s spelunking escapade.)
Not sure if these tips will work with your family?
Let’s chat in the comments. Explain your hesitations below,
and we’ll brainstorm solutions together.
Zina is the author of Let’s Lasso the Moon, where she inspires parents and children to interact creatively and enjoy the beauty of everyday moments.