Family holidays can be the most magical times of our childhoods, and they can be pretty magical for parents too – when they go right. A family holiday gone wrong can be a nightmare of frazzled adults and fractious kids. Here’s how to make sure you make magical memories instead of ones that you may rather forget:
Involve the kids at the planning stage
If they are old enough to talk then they are old enough to talk to about your holiday plans. Children should be asked about what their expectations are for a holiday and what they would like to be able to do. They should know where they are going – try to enthuse them about the location. You should have already given some thought as to why it will be perfect for the whole family, so tell them. Communicating expectations up front can avoid unpleasant attitudes and disappointment later – it can also help build the excitement for your very special adventure.
But don’t let kids make all the decisions
Of course, children (even bolshie teens) should not be allowed to rail-road you into doing something you don’t want to do. A common mistake people make is give into pressure from the kids and end up on a holiday (say to a theme park) that they never wanted to be on. Of course there will be some compromise to be made on all sides, but the best family holidays are the ones that everyone, adults and children can enjoy. And kids don’t always know what is best, of course. They may moan about an active holiday, hiking or biking, but when they get out there they may well have the time of their lives. That is why parents sometimes have to just lay down the law.
Make sure you’ve done your basic research. Make sure all documentation is in order. Always have water, wet wipes and snacks on hand. Make sure you have a first aid kit for any little emergencies. Use basic common sense and pack accordingly. Let children pack their own bags, to involve them and give them a sense of active participation throughout, but be sure to check young children’s bags to ensure they haven’t just packed toys and have got the basics too.
Keep the kids busy
Don’t give them space to brood or get bored. Kids that are entertained on holiday with active pursuits and activities will be far less likely to get grumpy or be naughty. Remember to involve them so they don’t just feel like they are being dragged from one place to another. They will simply be too tired out from all the fun they’ve been having. Keep things moving and everyone is far more likely to have a good time. A busy mind and body makes for a happy kid and happy parents.
But factor in rest time
Make sure, however, that there is enough time for the kids to rest and relax – no one would enjoy a relentless pace. This is their holiday too so make sure that between fun activities and excursions there is plenty of time for them to get some rest and relaxation. Even if they don’t know they are overtired – you undoubtedly will!