After 11 days on vacation, we are happy to be home again. Our vacation went amazingly smooth, thanks to some great planning on the part of my husband. He really gets all the credit. I thought I would share a few tips today about some things that helped make this a great vacation.
1) Set up behavior consequences in advance. Kids are often so excited on vacation, that they aren't always on their best behavior. Identify some simple consequences, announce them in advance and follow through. Here's one example we used. Our kids (especially the 3 boys) are very physical, with touch, hugs, and wrestling. They will often start with an arm draped around someone, only to end up in a good-natured tussle. This isn't good in a public place, and we've told them not to act that way. So when it happens, they get to hold Mom or Dad's hand for awhile - constricting their freedom. We've used this often on hikes, and it works. Not only does it stop the behavior, but it calms them down and ends up wonderfully with the positive touch from a parent.
2) Pack an emergency bag. We always carry a backpack and include the following: sunscreen, Ibuprofen, lip balm with sunscreen (a must!), and bandaids. We just added a new item to our emergency bag: baby powder. This was great to have in sticky Florida. We all got a little chapped.
3) Give your kids' spending money. Our kids have very few opportunities to make money, so on vacation we buy all their snacks and souvenirs. But it gets tiring to make sure we give equal amounts of money. So this vacation we gave each child money to spend at his/her discretion. There was no begging for a snack, or for this or that souvenir. They chose how and when to spend their money. Of course, we had some limits - like no ice cream before dinner.
When our children were little, we actually used this as a reward for good behavior once at Disneyland. We bought some Disney Dollars, and if they got through an hour with obedient and respectful behavior, they received a dollar. We found that the reward worked much better than the threat of punishment.
4) Hold your kids' spending money. We have 2 out of 5 kids that keep track of money. The other three lose it with alarming frequency - having money fall out of pockets and leaving purses in restaurants. At home, we figure this is a learning experience. But on vacation, it's heartbreaking to me when they lose it. On this trip, I put each child's money in a separate envelope and doled it out as they requested. It was a bit more management for me, but it worked great!
Vacations have the potential to be fabulous experiences, or to become a drain due to little annoyances. Hopefully, these little tips will help enhance your next vacation.
In His Love,