Let’s face it – travelling with your family can be stressful. Even with the best mapped out itinerary, things can go wrong. Delayed flights, not everyone is happy about everything you have planned, or just plain old cranky kids can nudge the happiness factor down a notch. Here are a few tips that may help keep things on track.
Go in as a team.
Talk with your spouse about possible behaviors with the children and how you both should handle them when/if they do. This will help you develop a unified front and feel supported throughout the trip. So, if the cousins you are visiting have a later bed time than you are comfortable with, the two of you should discuss this ahead of time and find a resolution. If you are traveling to locations with exotic foods and have a picky eater, figure out how to diminish anxiety prior to the “I don’t like that” melt down. I try to do this when the kids are not present because we don’t need input from the peanut gallery. They always want the later bedtime, the extra dessert and more iPad time. So, when this comes up on vacation, go in as a team, no good cop, bad cop.
Lay out expectations for the kids.
By discussing things with them in advance, hopefully it will curtail unwanted behavior and ease the tantrums. It is ok to let some rules from home slide while on vacation, but letting the children know ahead of time sets standard for the trip. A brownie and ice cream for dessert is okay, but candy around bed time is not.
Go it alone.
If travelling with extended family, schedule time for your immediate family to do things independently. It could be just a special breakfast or excursion. Even if you are travelling with just your family, there are always options to break up into activities. This works well if you have children with varying interests or age ranges. Taking in a hike with the older kids or a daddy/daughter breakfast are ways to get quality time and a little separation.
Schedule adult time.
Many resorts offer babysitting or kids clubs or ask extended family to help out for a night. This is a WIN WIN for everyone. The kids get playtime with a sitter or Grandma and grandpa and you get some rare time alone. You will thank me for this one!
It sounds simple but it is not always easy. Many factors can upend a vacation, bad weather, too much sun, an injury. Keeping an open mind and knowing alternatives will help keep things running smoothly. Checking out a local library or a movie on a rainy day, may not seem like the most exciting thing to do on vacation, but may be necessary to keep your sanity. Flexibility is also key when travelling with extended family. Understanding their needs and wants is necessary for a happy trip. If you are a super active family and your sister’s kids want nothing more than to sit on the beach and build sand castles, some compromising is in order.
No one is perfect.
Parenting is hard — really hard — and trying to pretend to have the most well-behaved kids is just not realistic. If you are so stressed out about your kids’ behavior, you are just inviting more conflict. When the kids act up, you don’t need an audience, so it may be best to just leave the situation. Trying to negotiate bad behavior and teach a lesson in front of others tends to just make it worse, so don’t force it.
Get in your happy place.
Try to relax as much as possible. If this means going for a morning walk or meditation, go for it. If it means sleeping in (as much as possible with little ones) and taking a break from exercising, that is ok. Remember that this is your vacation too and have FUN!