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Posts Tagged ‘vacation stress’

Summer has arrived and brings with it the time of year that families set off on summer vacation. It’s the time to step away from work 008deadlines, school and sporting events and the bustle of normal life. Vacation allows families the opportunity to spend quality time together. Traveling to exciting new places and seeing new things is something to look forward to. It sounds ideal, but anyone who has travelled with children knows just how quickly the experience can turn from an opportunity to reconnect with your family to a fight with your own sanity as you try to manage children that are tired, out of their routine, and bored. Quite simply, parents can find themselves coming home from vacation in need of a vacation to themselves regroup.

There are some simple steps that you can take to help lessen the stress of family vacations and make the trip more enjoyable for all involved.

  1. Plan your vacation destination and activities as if you were the child. – Thinking about not only what your child likes to do, but what they are capable of doing. For example, planning on a long day at a busy amusement park with a toddler could be a recipe for disaster. It is most likely that they will not want to be confined to a stroller all day, and walking long distances is too difficult for a little one just mastering the skill. This frustration can result in a tantrum.
  2. Involve the family in the planning.-This is especially true if you are travelling with teens. Allowing them to research activities and plan an entire day or days will keep them invested in the vacation and doing things they like to do.
  3. Prepare your children with what they can expect at your destination. -Sharing photos with them, looking up your destination on the internet, and allowing the children to take a virtual tour will help them get an idea of where you are going and what to expect. This will allow you to enjoy their anticipation and will help alleviate any anxiety or fear of the unknown.
  4. Schedule breaks, play time, nap time, and flex time. -Vacation is a time to take a break from our hectic schedules, but young children still need the security of familiar events. They can get stressed by unfamiliar events and places. When you are in a strange place, do what you can to keep them on schedule.-It is also important to not overbook your vacation full with activities. Hectic travel plans can also stress children and lead to irritability. Allow for some down time to enjoy the scenery, spend some quite time and reflect on your experiences or just snuggling as a family. If you do less, you will enjoy it more.
  5. Watch what your kids eat. -Many feel that vacation is a time to indulge, but too many sugary treats can lead to a child bouncing off the walls and then crashing into tears. In addition, many temper tantrums are a result of hunger and a child’s inability to communicate their feelings to you.

Family vacations are a chance to reconnect with your family and build lasting positive memories, and should not have to result in stress and frustration. Taking small steps to help children regulate themselves while on vacation will offer positive results.

Sources:

Parent Further; A Search Institutes Resource for Families.  Better Family Vacations.  Retrieved from http://www.parentfurther.com/resources/enewsletter/archive/better-vacations, June 2014

Walsh, D. (2013). Stress and Your Child’s Brain: Too Much, Too Little and the Resilience Sweet Spot, Retrieved from http://drdavewalsh.com/posts/165.

 

Written by: Kathy Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Butler County, Miami Valley EERA, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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