From Dr. Jane's Notebook
It's not too early to begin thinking about summer vacations.
Vacations have a way of reminding us that there is a "zero-point" to stress.
But achieving a low-stress vacation "with children" presents the ultimate
challenge. As one who faced this challenge head-on, I offer the following guidelines:
- The best vacations are well-planned. Even vacation time needs structure. The more
planning, the better... to prevent boredom from becoming the theme song.
- Begin each day with a family meeting. Everyone needs to know the "plan for
today" in order to "get with the program". Also, it is helpful to make a
list of everyone's goals for the day and build the day's schedule around those goals. In
this way, all members of the family can feel part of a democratic process to "have
fun". For those who fear that soliciting opinions would open a Pandora's Box, it is
helpful to consider the emotional cost of being a tourguide to unhappy children.
- On long car rides, read a Book aloud. Sharing a book together is a wonderful form of
entertainment, a group adventure, and it teaches the value of reading. When a family
shares in the unfolding of a tale, this "movie on wheels" provides a great topic
of conversation and adds a new dimension to road travel. According to one family I know,
their annual journey to visit Grandma is about 250 pages long!
- Give each child a budget for "canteen and souvenirs". If you find yourself
exhausted by requests for toys, snacks and drinks, a daily allowance for such itmes may
provide a great solution. When children are responsible for budgetting their own money,
they become more careful spenders, and gain self-esteem from their independent
- Schedule time for the family to Rest and Re-group. When things begin to feel
out-of-control, it may time to stop and digest experiences. Family vacations are busy
times that require scheduled "rest periods". If other people are involved, it is
important for families to spend some time alone reconnecting as a family unit, and
re-estabishing the "typical order". Families tend to function best in their
usual groups, and family vacations can be wonderful times of growing closer as a family.
Family vacations are precious times when we watch our children grow. Away from the
stress and strain of our normal routines, these are times to talk and play, listen and get
re-acquainted. When my kids were small, I kept track of all of their "firsts" in
a baby book that spanned their first five years. Little did I realize that their lives
would be continuous steam of new experiences that we would share even more specially as a
family on those lucky days called family vacations.
ęCopyright 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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Last Updated September 27, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon,