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The summer vacations are here.
Everybody is travelling – or planning to travel and go ‘somewhere’
Well if you aren’t – you should.
The long vacations are the best time for you – to head out with family and friends – to create some beautiful memories.
Vacations are the best time to relax – rejuvenate and bond – and there is no better way to do it than to plan a getaway.
Getaways sound like dreams. And just like dreams – they are easy to envision – but extremely difficult - to plan. More especially when you are travelling with children.
At my clinic – The Parenting Place nowadays – I have a lot of exasperated parents walking in – complaining that there is “something” wrong with their children – ever since they got back from their vacations. In some cases the “something” is so bad and they are so exasperated that they say they wish – they hadn’t left home at all.
Their children they say are cranky and exhausted and are refusing to get back to their regular routine – making it difficult for parents to go back to work. I can see that these children are sapping the already almost exhausted reserves of energy that their parents have left after hectic vacations and things are visibly – not so good.
The stress levels I see among these parents are so high – that I am tempted to recommend another vacation – a relaxed one this time – to recover from the previous one.
It is really sad when something that is meant to be fun and create bonding and make everyone happy turns sour like this and there is only one reason this happens – and that is poor planning.
Planning fun on a getaway – when you are travelling with children – is completely different from planning fun with adults.
Children have fun when they can just be themselves. They have fun when they can be around their parents and other people they love and have their undivided attention for a few hours in the day. They have fun when they are given time to experiment and take on challenges that they think they can handle.
They do not have fun on hectic vacations when they are constantly jammed into cars and carted from place to place to see and do things. They do not have fun when they are subjected to rushed mornings when they have to get up and out there at unearthly hours to ensure that their parents can tick off all that features on their jam packed itineraries. And they do not have fun when they are forced into activities – that to their level of understanding – look dangerous – even though you may argue that there is no real danger involved.
If you are travelling with children – keep the following in mind:
1. Select your holiday destination carefully. It is tempting to avail of that off season discount – but it could mean that you are in a place where you really shouldn’t be in the sweltering heat with a child. To counter that it may seem like a no brainer to select the season holiday hotspot – but that could mean jostling with crowds of holiday makers and pinning your child to your side to ensure that he/she does not get lost which could exhaust both of you. Go to a place that is off the beaten track for best results.
2. It could seem pointless to you to go all the way to an exclusive holiday destination only to have your kids lounging in the pool (which they could have done at home anyway) or play on slides and swings (the same ones that are part of the park in your housing complex) – but remember – that is their definition of fun. Unlimited time to play. Allow it.
3. Carry enough drinking water and ensure that kids drink water frequently – it is summer after all.
4. Ensure that through the vacation they eat some healthy food to keep their energy levels up. Carrying some cereal that can be eaten in the room for breakfast with some Tetra Pak packaged milk. Or some bread and cheese slices handy that can be eaten through day trips can save you from a lot of irritating whining.
5. Cushion time is important when you get back from your trip. Getting home early in the morning from your trip and making it to work the same day can be stressful enough to strip you of all the intended rest and relaxation of the holiday. Plan to be home at least 24 hours before you need to go back to work.
Loosen up – let go of the stress – ramp up the fun – don’t aim at accomplishing anything.