We’ve been vacationing together as a family every August for 14 years now. Hard to believe but we did the math and it’s true. When we started this tradition Hannah was 12 and Patrick was only 5! This year we added Jackie to the mix, along with Patrick’s girlfriend Taylor, and Eryk was with us for part of the week as he has been for the past few years. A family vacation is fun but it can also be chaotic and stressful. Over the years I’ve learned a few things that I think are key to making it easy on everyone, and here are 3 of them.
- Plan ahead when it comes to meals. I often bring things from home that are easy to cook – hamburgers to throw on the grill, macaroni salad or potato salad that I make before we go, marinated chicken and stuff like that. It’s fun to eat out but we’re a pretty big group so it can get expensive and also time consuming. This year we had one breakfast out and one dinner out. In year’s past I’ve cooked some big breakfasts and made group lunches but now that everyone is older they pretty much take care of themselves and do their own things for those meals so it’s important to plan ahead for that as well.
- Talk to everyone about their expectations – what’s the one thing that could make or break the vacation for everyone? I know Patrick really loves to go for ice cream and I really love the beach and Dale loves to play yard games. A week can go by pretty quickly so it’s important to find out who wants to do what and make sure it’s fit into the plan. Again, with everyone being older and driving, it’s easier to get all that stuff done.
- Lighten up. It’s vacation so it’s good to relax the rules a bit. Don’t worry if it’s ice cream for dinner or if we never get to something we’ve always done before. Be mindful and remember that even the best of plans are meant to be adjusted. In other words: go with the flow and let everyone do their own thing some of the time!
Those are my tips and I hope they don’t make it sound like a family vacation is a chore or uncomfortable. The truth is that those people in that photo are the reason I love vacation as much as I do – because I get to spend uninterrupted time with them. Relaxing and chatting, reminiscing and telling stories, drinking and eating and playing games and doing all the things that make us a family.
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