Recently, I read an article explaining the difference between a trip and a vacation. This writer indicated that traveling and trying survive and having to do boat loads of work is a trip, not a vacation. A vacation should be fun, and uplifting, and make you feel relaxed and at peace. People daydream about vacations, but not so much about trips. I’m here to save your vacation from becoming a trip!
5 Tips for a Successful Vacations with Kids
1.. You don’t have to bring the kitchen sink
I know, I know, I know how the saying really goes, “… everything but the kitchen sink.” Whatever, you know what I mean. If I explain to you that we drive an explorer with four carseats and just a tiny little space in the back for a full months worth of vacation, you’ll probably look at me as if I have two heads. We pack light. Our simple rule we follow when traveling, “If I don’t bring ___________, will we still survive?” The answer is always yes, so we ask another question, “Does it make our time more valuable is we have ____________? If it saves us time, we bring it, and if it really doesn’t then it stays.
Another little rule to follow when you’re overwhelmed and panic stricken from packing: If you forget something, you can buy it, borrow it, or phone a friend to help you get your hands on it (via mail or what-have-you). Though it would be a bummer to forget something, but every situation is fixable as long as you have your keys, wallet, and at least one person’s cell phon
2. Let Everyone be themselves
Kids will be kids and yelling at them every moment they mess up is never a good idea, but especially on vacation. Yes, please still expect them to be well mannered and polite. Please do expect them to follow rules and clean up after themselves. What I’m really asking you is to be okay with the silly, the jokes, the pranks, and childish nonsense. This is their vacation too.
In order to do this well, because it will be hard for some of us (I’m speaking to myself mainly), you have to think slowly. Being impulsive and abrupt will have you saying sorry. Though sorry is nice, it doesn’t beat doing it right the first time. When you see your children bouncing off the walls and acting like wild animals, say a “Thank You” prayer specifically for their happiness, because this vacation you planned for them is making them happy! Then use your mad skills to get them outside or find something more suitable to let their energy out without even making it obvious… more like continuing the fun elsewhere. Or better yet, let them proceed with their shenanigans and reminisce on a time when you were their age and what was more memorable for you.
3. It is never the end of the world
No matter what happens, put a smile on your face. Nothing is the end of the world and if something goes wrong, smile through it. Things could be worse. Don’t rush to be somewhere, don’t waste precious time worrying over the small stuff, and don’t make a mess of your vacation over trivial moments. If you miss the boat on a very exciting event, or your reservations for 15 people were cancelled, or perhaps even the hotel you booked didn’t give you the rooms you requested, it will all be alright. Smile through the tough, teeth gritting moments of someone else not doing their job, or whatever may have caused the issue, and move on to something better.
4. Do something Challenging
This one I love, because I do it all the time. When my husband comes home from work he always asks the kids what we did that day. Often they get to say something fun like “we went to the zoo” or “the park” or “we went for a hike”. When I was pregnant with our third, and again with my fourth, I would look at things and say “How will we manage?” I’ve learned to try the challenging things anyway. I can say I’ve taken four children four and younger (and actually for 4 weeks I could say four under four) anywhere I please, and in doing the challenging things, we’ve found great joy. We’ve also come up with great systems of working together which is definitely family bonding, plus it has worked heavily on my patience.
So on your vacation, do something challenging. Decide to make the most of it all. Be adventurous even with the little ones in tow. Watching yourself succeed, and sometimes even fail (you learn from it), can show you what you’re capable of everyday.
5. Remember you are there to make memories
Memories are made by doing all of the above mentioned. Memories are the sole purpose you dream about vacations. Most of the time, the great memories happen when things go wrong and you find a way to enjoy it all just the same. Take time to look at the people you are with on your stay away from home. Take a mental photograph of their face while they’re laughing from time to time. Try to remember what the beach, the mountains, the lake, etc smells like during your stay. Treasure the way your body feels when you are fully relaxed, ecstatically happy, and remember what it all means to you.