Six lessons for surviving holiday travel with kids!
Have you ever been on holidays that you felt like you needed another vacation on top of your official one, just for recuperation? That no matter how wonderful the adventure was, you just felt tired to the bones? Well, that’s pretty much how we felt when returning from our trip to Florida.
As a family with 3 kids travelling across the ocean we’ve planned very carefully our days abroad. We seriously took the time to split the itinerary into manageable bits, to approximate a budget (right, it was a far approximation of what we would be really dealing with on the ground), to book hotels, to think the logistics over, to arrange for the meal plans, to arrange for the laundry stuff and the fun fun fun element.
We planned everything to such a detail that we covered almost everything. We were in charge! We were handling it perfectly. There was one thing though that slipped between our fingers: the fatigue. In our school like enthusiasm we completely overlooked the time we needed to rest and recover from the daily adventures on American soil. Because as much as we loved the sun, the sand and the sea; as much as we were thrilled about snorkeling, Kennedy Space Center, Sea World, Disney World, our kids were still 10-8-6 years old. They are kids as simple as that. Kids need rest even if they give contradictory signals.
Therefore after having discovered Florida and its charms for almost 3 weeks, a troubled flight back home to Brussels, we crashed in our beds promising ourselves that we would never repeat the experience. It was the jetlag talking.
Overcoming the wave of frustration and reluctance to return to work, my husband’s bravery did not pass unnoticed. He would go back to his duties as if nothing happened while I was supposed to take care of the house, of the kids and of my emerging business. I almost turned into a dried apricot from squeezing the last ounce of energy out of myself while the kids seemed having a bit too much of it.
It’s only when grandma asked the boys: “How was on holiday? What did you like the most?” that it became clear to me why I was feeling so drained.
“Well, it was nice” answered Bruno.
“What did you like best?” asked granny.
“I don’t know!”
When your 10 year old son tells your mother-in-law that his holiday was nice but could not point any significant moment out of it, you’re in big trouble. Not only grandma raises her eyebrow, but you’re also taking a deep breath on the verge of bursting into tears.
There’s hope. There’s a way to avoid embarrassing moments like this one!
What have we learned after all from this ‘nice’ experience?
The Top 6 Tips To Make Travel Fun and
Memorable with your kids!
- Less is more. There are hundreds of sightseeing/fun places to go, to be in or to experience. Make a selection of what is the most important for you to do and be comfortable with the idea that you don’t have to see or do everything available in a tourist area. Choose for fewer attractions and enjoy them to the fullest. This will allow you and your family to reflect on the experience and make up their mind whether the adventure was more than just ‘nice’. Plan days of rest in between that would allow the young ones, and their parents for that matter, to catch up with their energies.
- Walk at day, sleep at night. That’s the law of rhythm that says that what comes, goes; that where’s night, there’s day. Respect it too. Be clear when the day time ends and when bed time starts. Any delay in applying yourself this law brings about an undesired episode of tantrums the following day. Good night sleep is key to happy sunny faces in the morning. By the way, wine does not help – speaking of the parents – when you have to wake up at 8 am, rush to have breakfast just because you must be early in one of the parks, stay in the fast pass lane in order to avoid wasting time when the hordes of tourists conquer the premises.
- Pause. It’s OK to have a break. It’s OK to miss one of the attractions regardless what your kids are shouting to your ears. It’s OK for them to get upset from time to time. It’s OK to say no and to just sit for a moment, wipe the sweat off your forehead, lie on the grass in the shadow and just be. It’s OK to stop from continuously be on the move, eyes on your watch and nasty wasps in your stomach. Remember, this is not a marathon, nor a sprint. This is your holiday, enjoy.
- Make agreements. Be clear on how your kids are supposed to behave in the parks. What is the desired outcome, what is the reward. Make sure they understand with eye contact, nodding and verbal expression, and whatever sign you can require in order to have a full check of your requests. Stick to them. No matter what. This will save you a ton of nerves, frustration and anger when your children try to pull you and your husband in 9 different directions at one time.
- The top 5. Allow your experiences to settle down, to be internalized. Ask your kids to make a top 5 of their day. What was fun? What made it so special to make it to top 5? What have they learned about themselves while enjoying those things? Make a top 5 together of the whole family. It’s not only fun to it, it also brings about insights about your children’s passions, blind spots and terror barriers. And not only. You might have to name some yourself.
- Make jetlag your best friend. Do not dismiss or overlook jetlag. It can be your best friend when you treat it with respect. Your body needs to adjust to the new time zones, your mind too. Try to build the new rhythm by respecting the new day/night phases. If it’s not working, well, the laundry bags are waiting to be open, clothes need attendance, your fingers might want to write, your eyes might want to read. Do something useful so that you balance the day hours of sleep with some of activities in the night. It will pass eventually. Sooner or later.
I am Selena Ardelean, mom of three wonderful boys: Bruno (10), Sacha (8) and Jeremy (6) and wife of the sweetest man on earth. A
former teacher of English of Romanian origin, I have built my professional experience in HR and international merger-acquisitions companies. I enjoy nowadays my career as life and leadership coach, speaker, trainer and author, fully embracing my life in Belgium.
A few months back I have operated a big change in my life shifting from an employee mindset to one of a starting entrepreneur. I have recently opened the Triple A Coaching – Personal Development Center where I help individuals and companies overcome culture shock. My personal story of an immigrant settling in Brussels in search of a better life has helped me understand my purpose in life which is to encourage and empower people to step with confidence on the path towards their true self. Learn more about me here.