You’re planning the Great Family Trip during the school holidays, but past experience has taught you that every time the troop goes on a vacation, the kids get cranky easily and end up squabbling even more than when they’re at home. They complain about everything, big or small, and end up frowning during photo taking. With a bit of planning, though, this year’s break can be a lot more successful.
1. Get the kids involved. Everyone has different expectations of a holiday. Dad wants to play 18 holes, while Junior’s heading for the theme park and his sister’s making a beeline for the beach. That’s why it’s important to have a family discussion that involves your children. Let them have the opportunity to say where they wish to go.
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2. Simplify travel arrangements. Complicated journeys with air and land transits may look fine on paper, and even seem very exciting during the planning stage. But chances are they won’t be as much fun once you begin. Your kids tire quicker than you think. They’ll also be very bored if forced to sit on a plane or train hour after hour. So consider the implications when choosing your destination.
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3. Plan the day’s activities. Do your best to have a structured programme for each day. This ensures you’re all engaged in activities you enjoy, and prevents boredom. Again, the more your children are involved in the planning, the more positive they’ll feel.
4. It’s your vacation, too. You should also remind your kids that this is also your break and there are things you want to do. Children often look to Mum and Dad as people who take them on holiday, and who look after them – but who don’t actually have a holiday themselves. Tell them you want to have fun, too, and discuss the experiences you’re looking forward to, such as shopping or a spa treatment.
5. Build in rest breaks. There’s no doubt your kids have more energy than you. Yet they do have limits, even though they may think they can go on and on without a break. Make sure there are plenty of rest periods during the holiday. This doesn’t mean that they need to go take naps during the day. It does mean, however, that they should spend time quietly playing alone in their room or watching a TV programme.
6. Be flexible about bedtimes. Since your children don’t have to get up early in the morning for school, allow them to go to bed later in the evening. Try to stop them from over-tiring themselves with too many late nights, however. A kid who’s very tired becomes irritable, tearful and totally miserable. Make sure they clock their usual number of sleep hours and eat properly, too.
7. Join in the fun. Probably the best part of the holiday will be the activities you share together. After all, they thoroughly enjoy themselves when Mum and Dad participate in the fun. A family activity doesn’t need to be expensive – you can be splashing around in the hotel pool or watching a movie. That’s the best way to ensure your family holiday snaps are full of smiling faces.