“Mom, I’m bored!” “Dad, can I use your phone?” “Honey, if we leave the hotel at 7:30am, we can make it to the Kapai Trail Loop by 7:45am which we can complete by 9:15am and then we can take a shuttle to the Kunai Trail Loop, and…” “I need a vacation from my vacation!”
Use this ten-step plan from L.O.V.E. Parenting if you’ve got one more summer frolic in you, or put it in your hip pocket to prepare for the future; a ten-step plan for the best family vacation ever:
Self-inventory: Before you pack your bags, ask yourself, “What do I need from this vacation?” “What is my primary objective?” “Am I longing for restoration or invigoration, solitude or connection?” Be real with yourself and then set the stage for success.
Setting the tone: Introduce the trip to your children with a narrative about where you are going and the significance of the location, the history, the people, the culture, and the customs.Set the tone of the environment you will be visiting.
Group Expectations: Let your partner and your children articulate their wants for this trip. What are they hoping to experience and how do they see the rhythm of each day unfolding? Giving them a chance to weigh in will help them take ownership of the experience.
Game-plan: Strategize with your partner to create a structure to the week that includes the wants, needs and hopes of the whole family.
Agreement: Once you’ve created a collective frame of reference about where you are going, and how you are planning to spend your time, the whole family can “shake” on it, and agree to each do his part to help things run smoothly with joy and respect.
The Comfort Bag: Let your children pack a bag for the plane, car or hotel that will both comfort and entertain them. This bag can contain a small photo book of familiar places, school friends, teachers, and neighbors, something from nature around your home such as a small stone, and activities for self-entertainment such as books, cards or art supplies.Consider adding a trip journal and a camera so your children can have their own relationship to chronicling the journey.
Daily Rhythm: Invite your children to participate in the schedule of the day: you can rotate family members to choose the activity for the day, or you can let the children decide the order of events in a single day.
Media: Without the natural parameters of school, it is easy for parents to be bombarded by an insatiable request for media in its many forms. Decide ahead of time what limits you are comfortable with, communicate the boundaries with love and compassion and then follow through. Perhaps you want full access during vacation or you might want a media-free zone in the mornings, evenings, on outings or in restaurants. Be prepared with inviting alternatives for connection during the “down time.”
Family Connection: You might enjoy these timeless traditions for family connection: Card games, board games, sing-a-longs, reading aloud, charades and family drawing (sketching landscapes, hotel rooms, camping sites or each other!)
Memorialize: At the end of the vacation, create a group scrapbook including photographs, memorabilia, and a letter about the trip from each family member. Add to this “vacation book” over the years and you will create a priceless record of the memories that last a lifetime.
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About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.