Vacations with family

At this time of year, many extended families are getting together. One scenario is for grownup children with their families to meet at the grandparents’ house. Everyone loves that idea, but the actuality can sometimes be a little daunting. It’s sad if the vacation ends up being something just to endure and get through.

Instead there are ways to make it fun and build happy shared family memories. A little bit of preparation on everyone’s part can make a big difference. Using the emotional muscle of anticipation may increase your pleasure and relaxation.

Do your parents have a house that is kid-friendly? If so, that’s great! If they tend not to adapt the surroundings to the ages and stages of visiting children, you will have a bigger job prepping your kids on what to expect. Either way, some conversations about how things are at grandma and grandpa’s house, what’s the same and what’s different, gives your children time to get their heads around the idea that there will be some different rules. Some grandparents, for example, want kids to eat only at the table, while others are comfortable with snacks anywhere in the house. You can ask your parents to let you know what they will be comfortable with and what are bottom-line items for them.

You can think through with your partner (and your kids, depending on their ages) what elements of your usual routine feel crucial. For instance, especially with young children, you may decide that keeping their same bedtime is important. That will probably affect how dinnertime is handled. This is often a flashpoint with family visits.

If keeping your children’s daily rhythm is a priority, you may point out that there are lots of other meals that everyone can have together. Then giving your children a quiet early supper and getting them off to bed will settle them down. And everyone can still have lots of fun eating together at breakfast and lunch. You will be able to enjoy the later dinner with everyone else much more if you aren’t feeling pressured about your own kids’ tiredness and bedtime.

Different families often have different styles of discipline too. You will save yourself a lot of tension and potential friction if you remind yourself that each set of parents is in charge of their own children. They have made the choices they make for multiple reasons. Sometimes grownup brothers and sisters can have real conversations about their child-rearing philosophies, and that can be a bonding experience for everyone. It never hurts to try to explain why you do things with your kids the way you do. Other times, those areas are just too sensitive, since most parents are pretty committed to their own way of doing things.

You can focus on the dear aspects of your nieces and nephews. Enjoy your positive interactions with them – you only have a short time to make a relationship, but it may turn out to be very important to them lifelong. Did you have a favorite aunt or uncle? Was there a relative in your family who held a precious place in your mental landscape? Being that person is more important than competing with your brothers or sisters over who is more right just now. There are lots of emotional muscles involved here - setting priorities, letting go of anger and frustration, tolerating differences, and more.

Set yourself to get the maximum pleasure out of your precious family time together – take a lot of pictures of the fun times and enjoy them now and in memory over years to come!

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One Response to Vacations with family

  1. Help the siblings rivalry child to live a balanced life and healthy. Stress can play an important role in children’s moods and ability to handle everyday situations.

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