Five Golden Rules to Surviving Your Next Family Vacation
Most of us have a picturesque memory of going on vacation as a child. A memory which gets slightly altered when being revisited as an adult.
Travel which you remember as revolving around those kids activity packets they used to give out on planes, back when airlines didn’t exist for the sole purpose of cutting costs, is gone.
In its place is the experience of going through multiple stopovers whilst chasing after energetic kids. A journey which almost always ends with regret towards the moment you decided to save money on those savvy mileage tickets.
The joy of going out to eat with your family and ordering cute little kids meals with placemats that also serve as coloring sheets, is no longer joyful. Instead you find yourself realizing “WE ARE THAT FAMILY” as all those present turn to see the freshly squeezed orange juice spill across the table and sloooowwwwly drip onto the floor.
Pool time, which once entailed contests of who can hold their breath the longest and how many somersaults can be completed consecutively, is less eventful. Now your sole purpose is to ensure that when the lifeguard does jump in, it's not for your kids.
Are we having fun yet??
Don’t answer that. But do read the points below, and try make the most of the week your kids will remember for years to come:
1. No phones.
It’s hard to break up sibling rivalries over who’s turn it is to pick the next show (of Living Torah), when you’re also trying to catch up the latest Insta-stories.
I speak from experience having utilized this survival mechanism on a recent trip. Whilst the onset of the week was met with a dash of boredom, a day or so in we adjusted to life circa 1980.
We read books, played games and believe it or not, talked to one another. Occasionally we snuck a peak at our window into the world to ensure it was still there. In all honesty though, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if it wasn’t.
The best part was that we enjoyed our cocoon so much, we tried bringing aspects of it back to our everyday life. Whilst we haven’t kept the resolutions made whilst high on life, I still feel a tang of serenity every time I think back to that week.
2. Don’t mix work and pleasure
That is, don’t be cheap. We once thought we could kill two birds with one stone and travel to a work conference with my husband so as not to pay for a hotel.
Suffice to say the only thing being killed was my desire to exist.
As my husband suited up and jollied off to work in the morning, I couldn’t help wishing I was the breadwinner that day.
Once the door closed, I sifted through the increasing piles of paper cups and plastic plates (because vacation far from kosher food is THE BOMB), to find my children.
We sat down and had a “Let’s make this work” talk, which as you can imagine proved super effective being it was held with a 2, and 4-year-old.
3. Ease up on the health standards.
The great thing about allowing treats that are regularly forbidden, is that you could literally stay home, buy fizz pops and call it a party.
Wherever your travels do take you, going all “organic mom” is not the time or the place. If you do manage to live up to the “organic mom” mantra regularly, easing up on this once a year will ensure your kids won’t be as mad when they grow up and realize what they have been deprived of.
Don’t worry I secretly envy your consistency. I can only keep such standards on Mondays and Tuesdays, before the week kicks in. At that point meal plans go from “nutritious, wholesome, preservative-free tofu pasta” to “can you pick up pizza on the way home?.”
4. Its ALL about the kids.
If the thought that this magical week is about you, seeps into your head like an unwelcome coffee stain on a crisp white shirt, nip it at the bud.
A Family trip is not a vacation: Repeat.
All planned activities should revolve around keeping children entertained, tantrums at a minimum, and stimulation in just the right balance. Trying to squeeze in a trip to the spa or a romantic stroll on the beach is ambitious at most, ludicrous at best. This is a great time to walk the walk, and show kids that mom and dad can take turns too.
5. Consider a Staycation.
Back when I was teaching, students used to excitedly tell me they’re going on a “staycation.” My internal reaction was: “Is that what your parents convinced you?” I now realize these parents were onto something. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything better.
No travel, guaranteed consistent amounts of sleep, regular help and of course extra cash to spend on exciting activities. Given, when your son comes home asking if we’re going to Florida like Moshe’s family, there will be some pressure to keep up with the Cohens. But when it’s all said and done, holding your own in this case comes with great benefits.
This week may be exhausting, but in the circle of life, it only seems fair that we step up to our turn and create memories for our kids the way our parents did for us. The way we look back so lovingly at those moments in our childhood, only provides fuel for us to realize how much our kids will one day cherish these moments (even if they don’t show it right now). And plus, watching your own kids bask in the sun, sipping ices and giggling to the sounds of waves crashing creates a new type of memory that will be gone before you know it!