This summer has reminded me once again of how important the little things are. Regarding vacations, it’s the little things, in fact, that make the biggest difference. Below are 10 tips to help make your family vacation a successful one for all involved.
1. Tune into your family. Be present, not distracted. Sit back and enjoy your family without the stresses of work or other distractions. Enjoy their hugs, jokes, off-the-wall comments, etc….and allow them to enjoy you.
2. Tune out of work. Do not sprinkle work throughout your entire vacation. If you must work, do so for a predetermined pocket of time and then tune out of work and into your family. Do not be constantly answering calls, responding to messages, etc. That gets really old really fast…and annoying. It also sends a message to your children that they come second—even on vacation.
3. Listen. Children often speak the truth. Be courageous enough to hear their message without dismissing it or defending yourself. If they’re hungry, feed them. If they’re tired, let them rest. Don’t be so determined to follow a schedule that you take the fun out of having fun.
4. Laugh. Have fun and be playful. There’s nothing like a good hearty bout of laughter to bring a family closer together. Moments of laughter are often some of the fondest memories for children and grown-ups alike—lighten up and laugh.
5. Have technology-free zones. Humans of all ages are constantly plugged in. While on vacation have sacred unplugged times. Technology does not mix well with meals or any activities. It can be fine to look at technology during downtime when everyone’s relaxing. These rules are for both parents and children to follow.
6. Be spontaneous. Let go of a tight schedule and rigidity about how vacation happens. Be willing to go with the flow and change things up or add things upon request.
7. Let it go. Remember that any family being in the same space for prolonged periods of time will have their squabbles. Don’t make a big deal over each little spat. Let the kids work things out and only step in if you have to. Don’t interpret every upset as proof that your family is a mess. Just see the struggles as normal family moments (unless of course they are abusive and go beyond typical spats).
8. Give everyone a voice. Allow each family member to choose one thing they’d like to do while on vacation. Everyone has to go along with a good spirit and no one can criticize the choices of another. Throughout the vacation, be aware of the importance of taking everyone’s opinions into account.
9. Build each other up; don’t tear each other down. Vacations are a time to have fun and enjoy each other. Do not have fun at another’s expense. Keep the sarcastic comments to yourself and instead encourage one another. Be positive and cherishing.
10. Create a tradition. Children love traditions. Whenever possible try to start a tradition on your vacations that will help create a great memory. Traditions can be as small as having one family ice-cream night every vacation or as big as taking an annual trip every summer to the same place. Regardless of how big or small it is, know that children love traditions!
This year, when it comes to vacations, remember that vacations are a chance to put a much-needed bubble around your family while keeping the rest of the world out. Enjoy the time, enjoy your family and no matter how hard it may be—BE PRESENT. Laugh, cherish and enjoy.
Challenge: The next vacation you take, remind yourself of the tips above and do your best to incorporate them or create your own list to incorporate. Always remember to give every family member a voice. Enjoy!