Take the trip. Make the memories.
It’s summertime, and for many families that also means, it’s time to take a family vacation. A trip with our kids is a blessing, but it can also bring on a lot of frustration and disagreements in our family and marriage. I love a family vacation, but sometimes I am more exhausted on a family trip than I would ever be at home.
Therefore, it’s important to keep a few things in mind to get the most out of our family trip experience. So, here are 4 ways to thrive on a family trip:
Adjust your expectations.
A vacation with kids is completely different from a vacation with adults only. So, we can’t have the same expectations for our trip. Depending on what we do, our kids will require our full attention, so our time of relaxation will be very different and most likely less. Therefore, we need to go into the vacation knowing that the goal isn’t relaxation; it’s growing closer as a family and making amazing memories with our kids. If we happen to miraculously get a little extra sleep, then what a pleasant surprise that will be!
Know your limits, but don’t be afraid to try new things.
This is a big one, and it all depends on the ages of our kids and circumstances of our family. For example, if we have very young children, then we probably don’t want to go to a water park or amusement park where they don’t meet the height or age requirement. So, we must do our homework first and research the places we’d like to go before we get there. Nobody wants to pay a bunch of money to go someplace fun only to get there and realize that our kids aren’t allowed to partake in the fun. My husband and I learned this the hard way at Universal Studios Florida a few years ago. Our older boys were seven and nine at the time, so we assumed they would be able to ride most of the “good” rides. Wrong. We spent the whole day going from ride to ride, being measured, and then turned away. It was a complete bust and waste of money. We always check height requirements now. If they are tall enough to ride most of the rides, we go. If not, we make other plans.
We must know our limits as a couple and as a family, but at the same time, we can’t be so focused on our limitations that we aren’t willing to try new things. Sure, there will be stressful moments on vacation due to the change in environment and unexpected occurrences, but we must introduce our kids to the new, exciting, age-appropriate experiences when we can.
Establish a flexible routine.
This has been a game-changer for us. Vacation is a time to let loose, but children thrive on a routine and adults usually do, too. When we establish a flexible routine, everyone tends to have better behavior, and we get more sleep, which is super important. Let’s be honest: we are all a lot nicer and easier to be around when we get an adequate amount of sleep. So, how do we make this possible and develop a flexible routine on a family trip? It will be a little different for each family based on the kids’ ages and the kind of vacation you are having. When our younger two were still napping, here’s what a day at the beach would look like for our family:
The kids would wake up, have breakfast, watch a little television, swim in the pool a little, and the littles would have their morning nap while the big kids continued to swim. One of us would keep watch over the napping young ones while the other would swim with the older kids. Then, all of us would go to the beach in the early afternoon. We would play in the ocean and sand for a few hours, and then we would go home, take showers, and get ready for dinner. After dinner, we’d hang out for a bit as a family and the kids would go to bed at a reasonable time. Then, Dave and I would enjoy having a couple of quiet hours to ourselves before bed.
Push through the stressful moments to get to the best times.
I’ve found this one to be true time and time again. Every family trip we’ve taken has had stressful moments, but we would have missed out on so much if we had allowed those crazy times to get us down and force us to go home. Instead, we pushed through them and experienced glimpses of childhood magic. The short-term stress on the way there is worth it, but it’s often hard to see that when kids are disgruntled and fighting, you can’t find the pacy, you end up spending more at the amusement park than you had budgeted, your spouse seems extra prickly, etc. You get the picture. It can feel like a big mess, and you might even ask yourself, “Why are we spending all this time and money only to be so stressed out? Is this even worth it?”
Friend, I promise you it is worth it. Take the trip. Make the memories. You won’t regret it! Remember to keep the four things we discussed in mind, and you and your family will make awesome memories that will last a lifetime.
For more on how to keep your marriage strong while raising kids, check out our new series on XO Now today!