Family Vacations and Expectations

by : Susan Dunn, Ma, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant

It’s that time of year again: Time for the family vacation. It’s a good time to rethink some things like perfectionism, expectations, and the meaning of the word “vacation."

First of all, we call it a “vacation," but if you’re the parent, it isn’t going to be one for you. In fact you’re likely to work harder than you would at home, so why not call it “The Children’s Vacation." Children don’t need a vacation for rest and relaxation; in fact they’re likely to rev up for vacations. If you’re looking for rest and relaxation, plan your own vacation for another time.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan and take the family vacation that can keep you from unrealistic expectations which will erode your experience:

1.Because kids accelerate with new experiences and fun times, plan to GO rested; don’t plan on COMING HOME rested.

2.Consider options for help with the kids. Many resorts and cruise lines offer supervised programs for children where they can meet new friends. Or take along a mother’s helper, older niece or nephew, or grandmother. It’s more fun for all.

3.Plan ahead for the unpredictable. Use your Emotional Intelligence to relax, being flexible and creative, rather than tightening up and getting rigid. Testing the limits in each new circumstance is normal. You can handle it as long as you aren’t surprised by it.

4.Prepare for the predictable – high spirits, boredom, and fights with siblings. Deal with them the same way you do at home. Don’t blame each other for the misbehavior of the kids. Just cope with it.

5.If you intend to have a great time together, don’t let anything get in your way. There’s no reason why a visit to the ER should “ruin your vacation," any more than a few tantrums, some embarrassing table behavior, a flat tire, or missed plane connections should. Your experience of your vacation is in your own hands.

6.Allow times and places for children to work off their energy. Plan breaks during long car trips. Take them for a run on the beach before you go to the art museum, or turn them loose in the courtyard after the hotel dinner with Great Aunt Betty.

7.Keep to a strict schedule regarding naps, bedtimes and meals to improve their behavior. No matter how much fun they’re having, children don’t do well when too tired or too hungry.

8.Discuss expectations beforehand. Explain what you can, and what sort of behavior you expect in different circumstances. You can’t cover everything, but you can cover a lot.

9.Be alert to their safety. Provide safety equipment – harness, car seat, life jacket. Bring along a first-aid kit. Because a vacation provides new situations, accidents are more likely to occur.

Last but not least, process after each vacation. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. And don’t forget the most important thing: Find out what everyone enjoyed the most. Be sure and go over the good times with the family, and make plans for more in the futureBusiness Management Articles, taking into consideration what you’ve learned.