For those of you without kids, you can go ahead and skip this one if you want but if you’re smart you may want to read on and take some notes for possible future reference. The thing about a family vacation is that all parties tend to have an “idea” of how it should go already in mind and these ideas are usually going to vary. So how do you make things enjoyable for everyone and hopefully keep any “meltdowns” to a minimum? Let’s be real, it’s hard to make everybody happy the entire time.
With the kids in mind, it tends to be more difficult to keep the older ones happy. You can play or give the younger of the group a certain amount of attention, no matter what activity you are involved at the moment, and they’re normally going to be ok. With the older kids it may take a little more work to not make them feel so alienated while at the same time not smother them with the typical “family togetherness” that comes along with vacations. Something we’ve seen work well in these scenarios, if possible, is let them invite a friend along. Usually an older child is going to want to do their own thing, per usual with the age, but you may not feel comfortable letting them go it alone. With a friend in tow they can feel more comfortable in the general surroundings of the family but still separate enough from the group to, more or less, do their own thing. It gives them a sense of their precious social status while being miles away from home, this in turn should keep everyone fairly happy.
Another battle that may take place during the course of your stay is the dreaded electronics discussion. We know every family differs on how much is too much with things such as phones and games but on vacation it can be even more difficult. This is a situation where it may be better to lose a battle in order to win the war. Restrict the time allowed on such devices less and concern yourself more with the when. If it’s a family meal that’s the time to probably say no. If it’s wind down time after a long day of activities with the whole family, maybe then would be a good time to let them text friends back home or get some video games in. At the end of a long day most folks are mentally tapped out and that goes double for the kids. Let them veg’ out a little before they go to bed only to awake for another long day of family togetherness the next morning.
Last situation we’ll touch on is the matter of sleeping in and how long is too long. We’ve found that those with more than one child are probably in a better place than the ones flying solo. No matter the time that’s “too late” in your own mind, it’s highly probable that one kid is going to wake before the other and before that undefined time. This provides you a rare chance for some one on one time with the early riser while the other is still sawing logs. It gives them some individual attention and a memory that you took the time to single them out for some fun during the course of the trip. Those moments, just like the memories, are rare but can be surprisingly fruitful for all parties involved; the sleeper gets the much needed extra rest, while you and the earlybird get some solo fun time. Win-win.
Admittedly, we are far from our first rodeo but that doesn’t mean we have all the answers either. Some things are going to work for you and others are not but you have to give it all a fair shot. Remember at the end of the day it is a FAMILY vacation and EVERYONE deserves a say so in what should be done, even if Mom & Dad have the FINAL say. We’ve got a little saying here at the Ann St. Inn that you may have already heard, and that’s “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. So be patient, Mom and Dad, and remember…You. Are. On. Vacation. and any vacation is better than another day at work, am I right? 😉