Thought for the week: Family Vacations (July 13, 2015)
Family together time – We may wonder how its possible to look forward to it and dread it at the same time. Without realizing it, as we are planning and packing for our trips, we have dialogue running through our heads about how good it will be for everyone to “get away from it all”. Taking note of our expectations can prevent an internal buildup of disappointment and stress that might otherwise interfere with an enjoyable and relaxing vacation. Check the “expectations” list below. Spend a moment trying to identify all that you may be expecting from yourself and your family. What are the “shoulds”?
1) Everyone feels the same about going on vacation.
2) Everyone will be on their best behavior at all times.
3) Everyone must get along and have a wonderful time.
4) It is your responsibility to make sure things go smoothly for everyone and between everyone.
5) If people complain or are unhappy, you’ve failed.
6) Everyone must do everything that has been planned, agree on it, enjoy it.
7) No one must look at their phones, laptops or tablets.
What items are on your list that may sabotage your fun?
1) Take breaks from the family to regenerate. Note that others may need to take breaks as well and try not to personalize this. An extra long shower, a walk or shopping trip alone.
2) Simply because you planned the trip doesn’t mean you have to monitor and manage the enjoyment of others on the trip.
3) If seeing extended family, keep in mind that they will fall into their familiar roles with each other. Anticipate it, expect it, and plan ahead for how you will respond to it. If you expect it, observe and allow it, you can then distance yourself from it and manage your reactivity to it. This is much healthier on stress levels then worrying about “if” something will happen and hoping it doesn’t.
4) Also If there is a specific person you know will be seeing that concerns you, solicit the support of your travel partner ahead of time, using a phrase, key word, hand signal that means “time for a break”. If traveling alone, make a plan with a friend back home that you can step away to call, email or text for support.
5) Obviously stay away from subjects that are known to inflame others. If you can’t help yourself in igniting these fires, tuck that information away to potentially explore after vacation.
6) Keep the trip as simple as possible for the chosen destination, especially if young children are involved.
7) Relax rules about diet, exercise and screen time for everyone.
8) Be flexible.
Here’s to a wonderful trip!