You spend all year planning the perfect family vacation, and all you can think of is how much you are looking forward to a well-earned break. It’s going to be great, right? Going to a glamorous part of the world, spending all that time together in perfect relaxation – nothing can go wrong!
The trouble is, by the end of day one of your vacation, there’s every chance you are ready to call it quits. Holidays at home or abroad can be an exhausting nightmare for parents with small kids, and the stress you go through can often result in you needing another break by the time you get home!
There’s a delicate balance to strike between entertaining all the children of different ages and still finding some time to relax. Here are a few tips to help you achieve precisely that – let’s take a close look!
It’s all in the planning
First of all, you need to plan well in advance. We’re not just talking itineraries here, either – it’s also important to give your kids plenty of warning about the unknown territory they are going to experience. Ultimately, children thrive on routine and familiar places, and a holiday away can often cause them a fright. If you can go through the sort of things you will be doing – including showing them photos or videos – they will be better prepared for what awaits.
Schedule is critical
It can be tempting to loosen the reins a little when you go on vacation. You won’t mind the kids staying up a little later than usual, and the chances are you will be more tolerant of everything from eating candy to general horseplay. But you should also be careful – it’s still a good idea to stick to some kind of strict schedule. As we discussed before, your little ones thrive on a regular routine, and breaking too many walls down in one hit is going to end in tears – for you, as well as them!
The right mix of activities
Wherever you are in the world, there will always be plenty of fun things for kids to do. But don’t forget, your 2-year old will enjoy things that your 12-year old will not. It’s one of the trickiest things to manage, but you have to make sure that everyone gets what they need out of the vacation. The older children will (hopefully) be able to understand you need to meet the toddler’s needs, but the reverse isn’t quite as accurate. So, when it comes to an older child’s day out, it might be worth splitting up into teams, to ensure they get what they want while the younger ones don’t cause a tantrum.
Bring extended family
When you have young children, almost every vacation you take will be stressful in some way. And you and your partner will struggle to find any time to relax at all. So, our final tip is this – bring some of your extended family. Whether it’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins, your kids will be delighted to spend time with other people. And you have an instant babysitting service for the occasional night out, too.
Do you have any tips for achieving zen on family vacations with young kids? Let us know about them in the comments!