As parents, when we plan vacations for our kids we want everything to be perfect. We want our kids to be happy and to have fun. We want to create memories for them that they will one day pass along to their kids.
Before parents start working on any travel logistics, they need to ask themselves a very important question...
Are you trying to plan a vacation for kids or a family vacation? Believe it or not, there is a huge difference.
Often vacations for kids is just that...it's all about the kids. It caters entirely to their wishes. For example, your children might be begging you to go to a theme park or go dinosaur hunting. Maybe your tweens are part of a traveling sports team so your vacation will revolve entirely on how they rank in the tournament.
Childhood is a collection of moments in time. As your child grows, certain opportunities are here for a moment and quickly gone forever. Sometimes family travel is determined by a specific moment in your child's life. If you are planning this type of vacation then obviously it's all about your kids.
To avoid any disappointment, have an honest conversation with your child before you start planning a kids vacation. Is dinosaur hunting a true passion or will they be bored with the idea in 5 minutes? Are your kids as excited about playing soccer as you are watching them from the sidelines? If your kids are not 100% on board with the kid vacation that you have planned, then your vacation for the kids might not be remembered fondly.
Planning a family vacation is a bit different. Yes, of course it's a vacation for the kids but it has to be a vacation for the parents as well. Family vacations are all about balance. It's giving everyone in the family a bit of time to indulge in their own preferences. It's about cooperation and compromise, exploration and familiarity, personal space and togetherness. There are great lessons and insights to be learned when a family travels together.
As parents, you work hard for your family. Yes, you want to spend time and bond with your children. That's natural. But you need and deserve some fun of your own.
The good news is, when it comes to travel, compromise is usually easy to find. Instead of devoting an entire week's vacation to the kids, maybe it means mini breaks...a long weekend catering entirely to them and then another weekend that's all about the family. If you do plan to spend the week at the theme park, talk about each parent getting some down time, even if its something as simple as a sleep in and room service for breakfast. Perhaps one day out of your week together the boys play sports while the girls enjoy some spa time and shopping. Then everyone can get together over a great meal and talk about their day.
One big fear that parents often have about vacation time is that their kids will be bored if they don't cater to their kids. They think they need to plan vacations for kids that keep their childre busy 24/7 otherwise will have to listen to whines. It's OK to get some help during your vacation. We parents have to learn that we are not superheroes. There are plenty of travel options that offer things like guided tours, kids clubs and activities that can help to keep your kids engaged and prevent boredom. Parents at home are used to being the hub in the wheel keeping everyone on track and in line. Often it's hard to let go of the reigns but vacation time can be a great time to practice as long as you have the right help along the way.