Tantrum-free vacations: 5 creative tips to keep your sanity, travel with your children, and have a fun vacation, really!
You want to spend your vacation at a spa resort, your husband's idea of a good time is a weekend at the golf course, and your kids can not wait to test out the latest hot rides at the amusement park. Is there such a thing as a family vacation that makes everyone happy or are you destined to hear the children grumbling from behind their DS, "are we there yet" while you're leaving their arguments from the front seat?
No matter what age your children are, from tos to teens, vacations can easily become hijacked by whining, pouting, and full out screaming from kids and spouses too. So how can you have a tantrum-free vacation, keep your sanity while traveling with your children, and actually have a fun time?
Try these 5 sanity saving tantrum-free traveling tips:
1. Pick vacations that will have something each family member can enjoy. No, you do not have to sacrifice grown-up time to enjoy a happy family vacation. Choose a location that will have something for everyone, such as a family friendly cruise with kid themed activities and lots of adult amenities or the family resort with the water park that suits mom's desire to shop and dad's golfing needs. If you have more than one child share some special "vacation alone time" with each child, where they can spend time with mommy or daddy doing an activity they choose.
2. Many children have a difficult time with transitioning, going from one thing to the next, and for some children a vacation is overstimulating. They may have a difficult time with loud noises, new experiences, or may be sensitive to moving from one place to another. Often tantrums or meltdowns are a child's way of expressing that they are overwhelmed. A little preparation can help with the transitions. Share with your child images of where you are going and talk about what they will see and experience. They can even begin a scrapbook with images of their vacation before they leave and complete it when they return, so they have a feeling of control over the experience. Pack a few things in your child's travel backpack that will help your child with transitioning and waiting, such as favorite music on their mp3, favorite DVDs, a new coloring book, or a new toy. Remember to always pack snacks and juice or water; a hungry kid is a cranky kid (and that goes for adults too).
3. Adults need fun too. Hire a babysitter for a night on the town and you will model to your children the importance of taking care of your relationship. Ask the concierge about the babysitting services the hotel provides or recommends, or you can Google babysitting agencies. Make sure that the sitters are screened for background checks, and that that they are CPR and First Aid certified, then take some time to dance the night away. Also, book adjoining rooms for older children so you can have some alone adult fun time too.
4. Head off the meltdowns and tantrums at the pass. As a parent you notice the signs that a melt down is brewing. It could be whining, or attempts to agitate their siblings, and you know that these are the early warning signs that the tantrum storm is coming. Take a minute and breathe before you respond. Children pick-up on your emotional state and mirror it through the phenomena of mirror neurons meaning if they are agitated then you are likely to mirror their emotional response, which only amplifies their tantrum. Research suggests taking a deep breath allows you to increase the flow of oxygen to your brain, while you'll approach the situation from a calm and rational place, rather than reactive response. Take a breath, let your child know you understand how they feel, and then calmly talk with your child.
5. Take a break. Sometimes there is just so much that your child can experience in one day before they become overwhelmed. Create some downtime each day where they can just play in the pool or chill with their tunes. Be realistic for the developmental age of your child, and just how much activity is too much, and you will minimize exhaustion tantrums.
Vacations can be fun filled for the whole family when you use these sanity saving tantrum-free traveling tips.