Who doesn’t love family vacations? In theory, they can be absolutely perfect. You’ve bought the bathing suit with the matching hat, you’ve pinned “fun games for your family vacation”. Then you throw in an over tired toddler, a moody middle schooler or a cranky wife and your vacation is pretty much over. Anyone feel me?
I am going to give 6 suggestions that I think will help to make sure you have a relaxing, enjoyable family vacation. Now, of course, my boys are older which makes things so much easier. I don’t have to triple check to make sure I have the pacifiers, enough formula for the plane ride, strollers and all the rest. But. I have been there, and even when your kids are older, a week long of being in each other’s faces every second of every day and you still have potential for disaster!
We just got back from a week long vacation to Florida. And here are 6 things that I think will help your family be able to have a relaxing vacation.
1. Stay with family. Now. I am not saying that it is necessary to stay with your family every single vacation you go on. But, since finances are one of the biggest emotional issues husbands and wives deal with, why not save a huge chunk of your vacation budget by either staying at a family member’s house, or going in on a place with family. This can also make it so you either don’t have to rent a car at all, or you can share the expense with family. Being with family all together can also relieve stress because there are more adults for the kids. Aunties are always looking for more play time with nieces and nephews, grandmas are usually happy to stay with the baby to give you a break, and cousins make for great playmates.
2. Don’t fill your schedule to the brim. There is nothing more stressful than going on vacation and feeling like you have to check off lists of each and every detailed activity your family must do. This is vacation, people. Relax a little. I think it is a good idea to go into your vacation with a few things that you really want to do, and kind of let the rest of the week play out. By you controlling every passing minute of vacation, you are not taking into consideration the other people’s personalities. Maybe the kids want a morning to sleep in and take it easy. That’s the point. It’s vacation. Maybe your husband wakes up and decides he really wants to go biking, but you had already planned that for Tuesday! Let it go. You are going to have a lot more fun when you put a lot less expectations on yourself. Those expectations can be saved for your work life. Not your vacation life. We knew 3 things before we went to Florida. 1. The boys wanted to go to Sun Splash, (Adam and the boys went on those crazy white water slides. I went on the not as steep ones!
2. I wanted to go to the beach and 3. Adam wanted to play golf with his dad. We did all three, and also ended up doing much more. But they were spontaneous! I love spontaneity. It makes life so much fun. We ended up with this: playing mini golf, hitting a bucket of balls, going to see a movie, going thrift store shopping, and even seeing dolphins at Sanibel Island! They weren’t on our “list” but we still filled our vacation with plenty of fun memories without everyone feeling like they were trying to keep up with the person with the list!
3. Do not neglect your time with God. Don’t forget that every breath you have comes from God, and even the ability to get wealth comes from Him. And also do not forget that the enemy loves disunity. And what better time to try and trip you up with pride, disunity and miscommunication than on vacation? I am pretty sure he works overtime then.
*Make church a priority even when you are away. If you are staying with family, go to church with them! I’m sure they will be thrilled to show off their family to all their friends. If you are staying in a place you aren’t familiar with? Google it. I know that can be kind of intimidating, but I’d try and find a church that has an AWANA program. It’s probably safe.
*Spend time reading your Bible! I so enjoyed my morning time with God last week out on the lanai. Sunday morning, I watched the sun rise as I sang, prayed and read my Bible. It’s a beautiful way to make sure you are not getting too comfortable in your reading and making it a ritual.
*Stay humble. Only by pride comes contention. If you start feeling yourself get uptight? Go into your room and pull yourself together. Read a verse. Pray. Ask God to help you react in the right way. Don’t let something small become something big and then ruin your vacation.
4. Ignore your diet. Sorry, maybe some people won’t agree with me here. But I have such a hard time with guilt when I eat certain food, or too much of anything. And I seriously hate that I can’t even enjoy the handfuls of m-n-m’s I’m eating because I just feel so plain guilty! When you are on vacation, give yourself a break. Get the fried chicken sandwich instead of the grilled. And get yourself some fries with that! Get the large ice cream with extra fudge. And don’t feel guilty doing it! You’re not going to die with a week of unhealthy eating. Let yourself enjoy everything to the full. You can get back to normal when you get home.
5. Be prepared for the unexpected. You usually plan your vacation well ahead of time, so you aren’t really going to be able to plan for the weather, for your health, or for any other outside situation. Kind of have a game plan in your head for what you’ll do if it rains all week.
Set yourself up for success. If your kids wake up and it’s raining on the day you were planning on going to the water park, have a plan B. Make it fun, and get excited about it. Same thing with sickness. It’s gonna happen. You may have a day, or a few days, where everything seems to be going wrong! Just be prepared. Have plenty of music ready for dance parties or just something to calm everyone! Have a few games, or crafts ready just in case. Have ingredients ready if you need to make cookies. And refer to suggestion 1. Having other adults to help boost your kids’ spirits is going to be invaluable. Work together as a team make some crazy memories!
6. Spend individual time with each of your kids. You’re out of routine, you’re out of your element…make sure you’re using this time of your life with no schedule (refer to suggestion 2) to take time that you maybe normally don’t have to be alone with each of your kids. It doesn’t have to be taking them out, or spending money. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block at sunset. Or playing a game of checkers with just one of them. Give them your undivided attention during a week of time that you are the most relaxed and have nothing else to worry about. Show them how important they are. Listen to them and enjoy their company.
So there you have it. A few suggestions for you that I hope will make your next vacation your best vacation.
*Special thanks to Lori for driving hours just for a lunch date with little old me, to Robin and Andrew (and Aaron) for letting us hang out with you and swim in your pool! Thank you Karen and Kenji for driving all the way just to have lunch with us! And thank you Nanna and Grampa Chase who made this vacation such an awesome one! Thank you for the way you love us, the way you spoiled us (my mother-in-law didn’t let me cook one meal!) the way you support what we are doing as a family and the way you pray for us. We love you so much!