6 ways to throw out the rules when you are on vacation with your kids!
My family and I just returned from a week at the beach and we have so many great memories from the trip. There were eight of us on the trip including my brother and his fiance (who had never traveled with us) and my two kiddos who are 4 and 1. It was chaos, crazy, fun and wonderful all at the same time. One big thing my husband and I learned through the course of the week was that on vacation with your kids, you’ve got to bend the rules a bit. It will allow you and your kiddos to have a lot more fun and a lot fewer headaches. I brainstormed some of the things that we did that helped us have a great vacation and then a few things we chose not to do! Check it out:
- Say “yes” to the little things – Vacation is definitely time to be the “yes” parent! All those things you would normally say “no” to, just say “yes!” Let them pick out the sugary, crazy-colored cereal for breakfast the whole week, let them skip bath, push bedtime back a half hour or so and let them have soda or ice cream every other night. Vacation is the time for everyone in the family to set normal life aside and have lots of fun and for kiddos, it doesn’t take too much work to let them feel like they are getting all kinds of fun things.
- Make time for rest, but don’t be strict – Build in some time to go back to your hotel or rental home and relax. Whether that is a two-hour nap time or just an hour in the late afternoon to veg before dinner, make sure you aren’t going constantly. As much as you want to be going and exploring all the time, kiddos can only go so much before their battery hits empty and they hit meltdown mode. And let’s be honest, we all really enjoy a nap or some rest time as adults too, so we all win! But also, be open to loosening your normal schedule. It’s vacation, so go with the flow!
- Give them a little freedom – My husband’s parents started a tradition when he was younger of giving their kiddos a set amount of spending money at the beginning of their vacations. They could spend the money however they wanted, but it was the only money they would hand out for the trip. They said it eliminates any of the whining and begging for money that children love to do at any souvenir shop. If your kiddos are a bit younger, you could tell them the amount, but hang onto the money so it doesn’t get lost.
- Roll with it – This was our youngest child’s first time at the beach and we weren’t sure what to expect. When we got to our destination the first night (after a 12-hour drive), we decided to head straight to the beach to watch the sunset. Long story short, by the time we made it to the beach, the sun had gone down and it was almost completely dark. We stuck our little one’s toes in the sand and she immediately started losing her mind. Not our smartest parenting moment, but it gave us a chance to roll with all of it and decide to head to dinner and try the beach again the next day (when it was actually light and we weren’t all hungry!)
- Expect the best, but prepare for the worst – We try not to always let our kids have snacks whenever and wherever, but when we are on vacations, the snacks and drinks flow! You want some goldfish? Sure! A juice box? Of course! And we tote them with us wherever we go. Our kids seriously must not feel a hunger pain the whole time we are gone.
- Grab some family or friends – Trying a big vacation like the beach, the mountains or Disney could be made a whole lot easier if you go with some extended family. It makes for more hands to help, more people who can drive and honestly, a lot more fun in general. I know my parents so enjoy vacations all together (even with all the chaos!) Family or great friends make trips so much more fun and a whole lot easier.
A few things we don’t do on vacations with kids:
- We don’t do much screen time – I know there are lots of people that use iPads and movies to get through long travels, but we’ve just found that our kiddos become ADDICTED to watching a screen. If we give them an inch, they want to take a mile and our oldest begs for just “one more game!” Forget it! And plus, who needs to sit and stare at a screen when you are somewhere new! Get out and explore!
- We don’t do any fancy dinners – Sure, when you are vacationing, there are lots of fun restaurants you’d love to try, but when our kiddos are with us, we just don’t go to fancy restaurants. The nicest restaurant we ventured to last week was a cute southern cafe where we sat on the open air patio. Besides that, it was quick casual restaurants, picnics at the beach or making food at home. Why spend a bunch of money and end up not really getting to enjoy the restaurant? Go for easy!
-by Emily Robertson