February 9, 2022
Avoid Vacation Frustration: 6 Tips to Stay Sane with the Kids
Written by Rachel Eddins
Vacation is meant to be a happy word. It usually is.
But what about those times when “vacation” translates into the time your kids are home on a school break?
Taking things further, what if your current version of a vacation involves traveling with your children? Hence, the term “vacation frustration”.
Memories will be made during your time together, that’s for sure. Whether those are happy or dismal memories depends a lot on how you prepare and adapt to the many challenges as a parent.
Rest assured, you can get through this experience with your optimism and your sanity intact. It just requires some vision and planning.
But First, the Unspoken Challenge of Vacations and/or Breaks With Children
You love your children. You miss them when they’re gone and typically enjoy their company. But let’s face it, life takes a whole new rhythm when you and your offspring are together 24/7.
You may start to silently wish for them to be back at school. Thus, the biggest challenge might be how to deal with your guilt.
There is nothing wrong with you sometimes feeling overwhelmed and frustrated during a break with kids. At home or on the road, it is a daunting situation.
You don’t have to make things harder by living up to imaginary standards. Needing time and space for yourself is normal and not automatically a reflection on your fitness as a parent.
Traveling Together Provides Opportunity for Bonding
On the other hand, traveling together is fun! It can bring fun, excitement and adventure into the relationship. We also bond emotionally through shared experiences and traveling offers a great opportunity for that.
When traveling we’re focused more on each other than during home life, which is divided between kids, work, etcetera.
So it’s a great opportunity for deeper connection, which is a common complaint distressed couples make (don’t feel connected).
6 Tips to Stay Sane When the Kids Are On Break
When the Kids Are Home on Break:
1. Rules Are Made to Be Kept
Just because they don’t go to school, it doesn’t mean chaos rules the day. Sure, your kids may sleep a little later and eat at different times but it is essential that you enforce the same rules of behavior — break or no break.
2. Maintain Structure
A school schedule almost automatically imposes a structure upon your children’s daily lives. They deserve a break but again, things must not devolve into anarchy.
Avoid vacation frustration with a general plan. Leave room for spontaneity and nuance but not so much room that you lose control.
3. Schedule in Breaks For Yourself
Work with your spouse on this. If you have older children, they can be recruited, too.
The idea is to cultivate a division of labor in which you are not supervising and managing all day, every day.
Your self-care breaks will empower you with the needed flexibility and strength to make the best — for everyone involved — of this temporary change in routine.
Traveling With Your Children:
4. Prepare, REALLY Prepare
Make a list and check it twenty times. Snack packs, extra device chargers, individual ID wrist bands in case kids get lost — all of it and more.
You can and must reduce some of the drama in advance.
5. Adjust Your Expectations Accordingly
Hark back to the trips you took with your partner before you had kids. Next, erase those expectations.
Things will move slower, less predictably, and probably much more loudly this time. Don’t set yourself up for stress by counting on smooth sailing.
6. Splurge for the In-Flight Wifi
It may be the best opportunity you have for some peaceful alone time. And your fellow passengers will thank you.
7. Don’t Over Schedule
Being over scheduled and rushing to do things is hard on both you and the kids! Traveling is about taking time to relax and have fun together. The point is to take a break from the stress so don’t overdo it.
8. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Focus on your time together not the variations that may come about in your itinerary. Don’t lose sight of the big picture which is to have a good time together.
Stay focused on your experience with your partner and not the little aggravations. Find a way to laugh at the little things. It will make your bonding deeper too.
9. Put Work Aside!!
Period. Couples that travel together and focus on each other often return with a renewed sense of connection.
It’s the time away from stress and the attention on one another that often doesn’t happen at home. Work is a distraction and takes away from that attention and connection with one another.
This is a time to relax and connect.
10. Be Flexible.
There is no way to anticipate everything that will happen when traveling. The point is for you to spend quality time with your spouse. Make an adventure of it but have fun together.
Is There Such a Thing as an Emotional Travel Agent?
Children do not arrive with how-to manuals. More often than not, you’re left to wing it — wishing you had an on-call consultant.
This is why many therapists work with parents, regardless of their children’s ages. Parenting is hard work, serious work, and life-altering work.
It only makes sense to seek help. Whether it’s a break from school, an overseas trip, or anything else pertaining to your kids, vacation frustration is not a given. Guidance is available…and useful.
Finally, do you sense there may be deeper family issues to navigate? Not to worry. You might just need a bit of professional guidance.
Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has qualified and experienced family counselors that can help increase family connection. Call us at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online. Please reach out, we’re here to take this journey with you.