Summer Vacation Planning

Smiling happy family on beach.Summer vacation is almost upon us, and it is a wonderful time of the year. Time to sleep in for some and time for valuable family time. Whether a vacation is planned or a stay-cation, kids and parents get to play together and create wonderful memories and cement bonds.

For some families summer vacation can mean stress. How do I fill the hours? Who will watch the kids while I’m at work? It’s important to sit down as a family and discuss these issues. No one person should have to shoulder this responsibility alone. Of course with very young children their participation is limited, but at any age some level of participation is important.

Parents should meet initially and make a blueprint of the summer that includes parental responsibilities outside of the family and within the family, child care needs, needs of the children and open fun time.

Parental responsibilities outside of the family include work and commitments to friends and extended family Parental responsibilities inside the family include chores around the house such as home repairs and improvements and yard work as well as banking, shopping, cleaning and laundry.

Child care needs revolve around parents work and responsibilities as well as time for the parents to play alone without their children so that their connection doesn’t get lost during the summertime.

Needs of the children may involve: sports, tutoring and activities with friends. Also included in this area are medical/dental needs that are often addressed during summertime.

Finally open fun time. When will we have a family vacation? Where will go? Are there local activities we want to participate in; e.g. farmer’s markets, movies, musical events?

When parents initially meet and discuss these items it is good to have a calendar with big squares for each day so that they can write in what will be happening each day so that conflicts will be at a minimum. While making this blueprint, it is important to honor each area and to recognize that things may come up that derail the plan. Leave some wiggle room in the plan to accommodate this possibility and leave some days open for down time; hence time for spontaneity.

Child care needs can be met with family and camps as well as day care and for some families working remotely for a certain number of hours a week. There are numerous websites which address these needs. It is valuable to discuss these needs with family members, friends, other parents and your employer.

After the calendar is completed, write down ideas for fun family activities. Generate printed pictures and information and then sit down as a family and discuss the plan. This is the time to include the kids in the process. Let them see the calendar and how it is structured. This allows them to visually integrate the process the parents have gone through and they can see that while there may be activities they don’t wish to participate in, there are activities they will be excited about. Discuss the various options for fun, whether an away vacation or activities closer to home get the input of the children so that they have buy in, so to speak. There’s nothing worse than dragging the kids to “fun” events that they could care less about. This process will also help them learn to compromise. If sister wants to do something that brother has no interest in, he can see that she will also have to do something that she has limited interest in and so make his suffering tolerable.

Finally, plan a special event for the end of vacation; a weekend away or a special event to mark the end of a special time and celebrate the beginning of a new school year. This provides something to look forward all the way to the end of summer and creates positive anticipation for school.

Summer vacation is an exciting time for everyone but can be stressful and often by the end a little too long. With good planning, stress and disappointment can be limited and the end can be as good as the beginning.



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