What is a family holiday, if not the perfect occasion to spend some quality time together with your kids? Whenever I have some time off work, I always plan something interesting to do. Unfortunately, it’s hard to have more than a week off without severe repercussions for my professional activity.
Even so, seven days are more than enough to have a fantastic, unforgettable holiday. When I talk about this to my friends, the comment I usually get is, “How can you do that? A week is too short; you’ll only stress yourself out!” Nothing can be further than the truth. In fact, some of the most enjoyable moments I spent with my kids were on short vacations during long weekends.
Nevertheless, as it always happens with parenting strategies, there are a few tips and tricks to be put into practice to avoid ending up, at the end of the holiday, more exhausted than relaxed.
When vacationing with my kids, I enjoy traveling in our car. It’s far better than the train, or even the plane because it allows us to fully manage our travel schedule. One of the most important things to consider is taking the necessary breaks; it’s crucial to keep the crew’s morale up. Instead of thinking about getting to a particular place at lightning speed, I treat the road and the trip as a destination in itself.
When planning the holiday, I search on the map for lovely, exciting places we can visit on our way. It could be a park, a small town, or even a country restaurant. Kids love to see new places, so it doesn’t matter if you take them to Niagara Falls or to a little pond where they can feed the ducks. Actually, the second option would probably keep them entertained for a much more extended period!
If they are tired of being in the car, I don’t force them. I prefer to anticipate their needs, and I usually stop at gas stations along the road, where they can have a bit of a walk, stretch their legs and get some fresh air.
Children are young but not naive. They can correctly understand your comments and remarks about the places you see, whether it’s the British Museum or a souvenir shop. Also, sharing ideas and thoughts with them is an opportunity I don’t really want to miss. They can see things from a different and surprising point of view.
Under my guidance, they can understand what they are experiencing, creating memories. They can pick up so much more than you think. When we went to Rome, my five-year-old boy stood in front of a magnificent statue of Moses. I saw he was really impressed, so we started talking about marble statues, about Michelangelo, about how old the figure was and who was depicted. Now that he’s ten, he still remembers it and sometimes uses the statue as a benchmark to measure other things: “that’s as big as Moses.”
If I cannot meet their expectation, I simply don’t promise them I will. I’ve learned this by experience. One day, we were on the road to a friendly little ski resort. I knew we were going to drive by an amusement park along the way. So I said to them we were going to have a lot of fun on the roller coaster and on the carousel. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found that the park was closed for the low season. It was a big let down.
That’s why, apart from checking the opening times of amusement parks, I’ve learned that deception is a big drawback for children, especially when they are so looking forward to something. That’s why I keep expectations low. One day we have decided to take a short trip to the local beach. It was a beautiful day, but it was still early spring. So I said: “We are going to play with the sand, but I’m not sure if we will be able to bathe as it may be freezing cold.” Fewer expectations may lead to pleasant surprises. The water was just perfect.