My mum likes to share the story of how I took my first plane ride as a baby, and how my brother and I joined my parents on annual holidays that involved long-haul flights. Clearly, I missed out on my mum’s fearless gene - the thought of lugging two active kids on an airplane sounded stressful to me. However, despite my initial reluctance, I’m glad that we attempted family travel, and it has become enjoyable over the years as we’ve fine-tuned our approach to it.
Adjust your expectations (and then, adjust them again)
Our first family holiday was an absolute disaster. We opted for a laidback beach holiday as our eldest was a toddler and I was expecting Baby Number 2. My vision of lazing by the pool with a magazine all day definitely did not materialise. The husband and I spent most of our time chasing down our toddler who was just beginning to walk and had dropped his naptime. My biggest lesson from that experience was that I needed to redefine what a vacation would look like, with children in tow. While I might not be able to focus on myself 24/7, I have learned to plan ahead to ensure I have an hour of me-time each day.
Decide on your goal
Despite my best attempts at planning, our first few trips as a family still seemed hectic. Then I read about the genius idea of choosing a family objective for the holiday. For us, this was spending quality time together rather than visiting far-flung places and tourist attractions. This immediately helped us refine our holiday plans; we opted for closer holiday destinations, and took more road trips. We also trimmed our itinerary, limiting ourselves to one sight-seeing activity per day. Our holidays have a much more relaxed vibe these days.
Involve the kids
As the kids have gotten older, they love having input in where we go, and what we do on our trips. This has been a great opportunity to involve them in decision-making, budgeting and even teaching them the fine art of combing through online reviews to pick our holiday accommodations. With a greater say in our holiday choices, the children are far more agreeable even when things don’t go to plan, like dealing with a cancelled late night flight. Letting them make choices for our itinerary also meant new experiences. I never would have tried go-karting otherwise (for the record, the 6-year old is better at it than I am), or sat in the freezing cold at night to watch penguins coming out of the ocean and back to their burrows.
Travel as a pack
Our days are usually busy and we don’t spend as much time with our extended family as I’d like. Family vacations are also a great opportunity to have a leisurely break with the grandparents in tow, and build memories that our children will treasure for a lifetime. More adults also means more willing hands to help with the kids, which is a welcome relief for this mum.
Annual family vacations are now a tradition in our home, and our kids look forward to them eagerly, and plan them up to a year in advance. While our holidays have been budget-friendly and low-frills, the memories made and the bonding time is priceless.
Discover more tips and strategies from parenting experts on practising positive parenting through the different developmental stages of your child at our upcoming Parenting with Confidence workshop.
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