There are many benefits to having a family vacation. It is a time to bond with our families, stretch our horizons, and learn something new. Sometimes we just need to get away from our everyday lives in order to truly relax.
However, family vacations can also be stressful. I often think it is because we go in with some unrealistic expectations:
Everyone will get along.
Everyone will appreciate all the hard work that we put into planning the vacation.
Everyone will enjoy all the activities that we so painstakingly scheduled.
The pictures of the hotel on the internet are completely accurate.
But in reality, it just does not work that way. Life can be unpredictable. Life on vacation with kids, can be very unpredictable. When things do not work out the way we planned them, we become frustrated and tense.
So its best if we keep our expectations realistic:
*Kids will fight
*Not everyone in the family will enjoy every activity
*The accommodations might not be to your standard
*At some point everyday someone will get cranky (including you)
*Your toddler will definitely at some point have a tantrum, (usually more than one a day.)
*You will probably spend more money then you thought you would
*You might have to remind your kids to say thank you for taking them on the vacation- they might not be appreciative- (they might even remind you that Sara’s family gets to go to the Bahamas every year.)
*Someone will probably get sunburned and lots of mosquito bites
*The weather will not cooperate for at least one day
On our first family trip to Israel, we were already pros at this. We knew we had to keep the bar low. We were traveling with our kids whose ages ranged from 7 years to 18 month. We had 2 goals: visit the Kotel and, this might sound horrible, get to the Kosher McDonalds in Beit Meir. Anything else we got to do would be a bonus.
I really believed it turned out to be a fantastic trip because we had such low expectations. We also made sure to schedule down time during the day, and we traveled with lots of snacks and drinks. My husband and I took turns handling the tantrums. I also made sure to thank my husband throughout the trip for all the work that he did in planning the vacation. I would say, “Let’s give a big thank you to Daddy for all his hard work in planning this vacation!” (My kids have picked up on this and on subsequent vacations have actually initiated this and thanked us for taking us on vacation!)
In the end we made it to the Kotel, but we never did get to the Kosher McDonalds. At least we have our priorities straight.
So, in a nutshell, to keep your family vacations fun, you need to:
- Keep your expectations realistic and flexible
- Set a budget before you go on your trip
- Schedule some down time every day
- Keep your expectations realistic for your kids’ ages
- Always travel with snacks!
- Look for child-friendly accommodations
- Keep things simple; don’t over pack
- Expect the unexpected and go with the flow
- Enjoy the time with your family and if your family vacation doesn’t go as planned, remember there’s always next year!
Adina Soclof is a Parent Educator, Professional Development Instructor and Speech Pathologist working with children in a school setting. She received her BA. in History from Queens College and her MS. in Communication Sciences from Hunter College. Adina is the founder of ParentingSimply.com. She delivers parenting classes as well as professional development workshops for Speech Pathologists, Teachers and other health professionals. You can find her text based CEU courses at PDResources.com and video courses at Homeceuconnection.com and SpeechPathologypd.com.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.