Summer time means vacation time! Most often, family vacations are full of joy, excitement, and fun! While most families enjoy the time spent together, vacations can turn stressful when things are not controlled or unexpected things happen. With everyone together all the time, in an unfamiliar place, children can fall into meltdowns and never ending sibling arguments. To lessen the effects of being off their normal schedule or routine and in a new place, be sure to talk to your children about the behavior expectations you have for them. Before the trip, give children as much information and preparation for the upcoming events as possible. Let them brainstorm ideas about what they would like to do or see on the trip and try your best to incorporate some aspect of that for each child- it will make them feel special that they “planned” a portion of the trip for the family. In your sharing of information, include details about how the new place will differ from home, where you will sleep, and who you will be seeing. Show them online pictures of the hotel and attractions you will visit. Sharing the travel itinerary for the trip can be very helpful for children to feel that they have an important part in the vacation. Additionally, you will want to discuss the agenda for each day as the day begins when you are away.
The best way to ensure your family's vacation runs smoothly is to plan ahead and keep your children's needs in mind. Be sure to pack snacks and foods you know your children will eat- you never know where there will be a place to stop or if the airport will have something your child likes. Also important, whether traveling near or far, make sure you have more than enough activities to occupy your children. Some suggestions for age appropriate activities for car or plane travel can be found here: www.momsminivan.com and www.travelkiddy.com . Finally, be sure to include time for rest, tired children are cranky children who do not do well with last minute changes that accompany vacations. It is very important that an aspect of your regular routine (we hope you have one!) is incorporated into the vacation. It may seem silly, but it can make a huge difference in behavior whether your son or daughter naps from 1-3pm in a hotel room (with their favorite blankie) or whether they nap on the fly in the car on the way to the next theme park (in a crowed car in their car seat without said blankie). Children are creatures of habit and do best when they stick to that routine as best as possible.
Most importantly, enjoy a safe, fun, and stress free summer!