For many families, summer is the most relaxing of all seasons. Without the hustle and bustle of school-year schedules and homework, everyone has an easier time relaxing and living in the moment.
Family vacations are a wonderful way for kids and parents to spend quality time together; it’s time create the space for deeper conversations (that my feel too rushed in every day life). You’ll also create shared memories that become part of your history as a family.
So, whether you are getting out of town or planning a staycation, here’s how to spend your time in ways the whole family will enjoy.
Do activities that are of interest to your kids. Sure, this a given. But it doesn’t mean you should spend your summer vacation chasing Pokémon if that is what your kid likes to do. This is your vacation too, after all. It does mean you should incorporate your kids’ interests into your plans and not assume they’ll be happy going along with whatever the adults want to do. Build in something kid-centric every day that your children can look forward to -- whether it’s an hour at the park, a trip to the batting cages, or a kid-choice movie night -- to keep everyone happy. Commit as family to activities that are important your children, and experience it through their eyes.
Discover something new together. Make a point to do something on vacation that you’ve never done before. Expose the whole family to a new experience – a cultural event, nature walk, learning how to make cotton candy. Family adventures (big or small) will give you a window, as a parent, into what makes your kids laugh, what excites them and how they interact with the world. There’s something more engaging for everybody about a new adventure.
Be spontaneous. The “surprise” factor goes a long way in creating memories, on summer vacation and in regular life. Two child development experts, Annie Pleshette Murphy and Laurence Steinberg, say the most memorable moments from childhood aren’t expensive vacation or fancy dinners, they’re the little surprises. Such as, “Let’s go get an ice cream cone before dinner!” or “Let’s go to the park in our pajamas!” How can you bend the rules or shake things up?
Letting go, and really relaxing, can be a hard thing for many parents. When you’re used to keeping a bunch of balls in the air, it can feel scary to let a few balls -- say, strict bedtimes or healthy dinners – drop for the week. My advice? Go easy on yourself. One of the benefits of creating strong family routines, is that you can be flexible, and completely ignore them every so often. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to get everyone back on track when you need to. Just let go and enjoy.