Parents face tough decisions when it comes to holidays and summer vacations. Often, these fun days become some of the most stressful times of year—deciding which family to visit and how long to stay can be enough stress. But actually living under the same roof as the in-laws who may have different lifestyles and opinions than you could send you over the top. With kids present, things get even more complicated.
Here are some ideas for how to survive when visiting the family during vacations or holidays with your kids in tow. You might even enjoy yourself while you’re there!
Expect to be challenged. Look at it as a positive opportunity for you to grow. That may sound cheesy, but it’s a great way to fight off the stress and not get angry when the in-laws begin introducing your children to things you don’t want them doing, like eating cake for breakfast or adhering to a specific religious practice. If you go into the visit expecting to be challenged, you’ll be more mentally prepared when tension rises.
Keep your cool. The best thing you can do to avoid serious conflict is to remember to keep your cool when things go wrong. When the children spill juice on your aunt’s white rug, you realize you forgot your child’s favorite nighttime blanket or the in-laws start harping on your parenting style, remember that these details won’t matter in a week or two and that you’re in control of how you react. By letting these issues slide, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself more during the visit.
Make a list before leaving. It’s one of the most critical things you should do before leaving for a trip. It will ensure you don’t forget the most important items you need for you and your kids. Start with the most important items like medicine, clothes, and hygiene products. If you need help making the list, just google a sample trip list with kids and check off items one at a time. Making a list will help cut down on expensive emergency trips to the pharmacy and other places.
Find balance in routine. One thing that will cut down on stress with the kids is keeping them on schedule according to the routine they’re used to. When kids get overly tired or stay up far past their usual bedtime, their schedule gets thrown off and they get cranky. Cranky kids lead to a wealth of other stresses, especially when you’re not in your own home. Try to keep the kids relatively on track with the normal routine—nap, dinner, bath, bedtime routine, etc. But be as flexible as possible when things don’t go perfectly. Outings can throw off nap schedules, so be aware that it’s not the end of the world if the kids take a rest later in the day.
Agree to disagree. Your parents or in-laws have different ideas and parenting styles than you. Inevitably, addressing the kids’ behavior or planning a family outing during your trip will conjure up some difference in opinions. If you address it up front and agree to disagree, things will be much easier for you and your host. Sometimes it means realizing what the differences are and vocalizing those with your family but learning to be okay with a contrasting opinion. At the end of the day, you’re in charge of what you do and what your kids do, so relax a little and know that it’s okay to disagree.
Being prepared is key to keeping your cool during turmoil on a family visit with the kids. The more mentally and physically prepared you can be, the better off your visit. Summer vacations and holidays seem to exacerbate stress with the added complications of gift giving and food preparation, as well as larger groups of people.
Often, history with family members plays a large part in how we experience time together. While there’s not much to be done about family history, we do have control over how we manage ourselves and our children during family visits. Wherever you’re headed for the spring holidays or summer vacation, follow these tips for a smoother stay with the kids.
And remember that you’re there to enjoy quality time with family!