Most advice for organizing family trips suggests that all you need is a flawless plan. Oh...and a minute-by-minute risk assessment as well.
"Civilized" parents plan. A lot. They schedule jokes and wow moments into their daily schedule.
Lazy parents know better.
They know family trips are build character. Here are 3 "truths" lazy parents know, with research to back them up.
1. You need to plan family trips with the children and tell them about the plans well in advance.
Rubbish! Who wants to spend months answering the endless what-when-how and why questions? And dealing with the fears and anxieties? No thanks.
If you want to involve your child into the planning process, do it! But don't feel obligated. A few days/weeks notice is more than enough. A family briefing first thing in the morning on each day of the trip will give them all the info they need.
Yes, structure and predictability are certainly important to children. Some need more than others. But adaptability is equally as critical. This is something that can't be learned if they never experience any changes to their routine.
What does this all mean? It means have a bedtime routine, but know you can change it up. Pack a pack n play, which is one of our favorite items to car-trip with. From playpen to bed, a pack n' play just makes life easier!
2. Every single thing should be thought of ahead of time. (From snacks and toilet breaks to bad weather and road closures).
In her article on how to develop character in children through travel, Rachel Denning says to let them "get uncomfortable." (bootsnall.com).
Get uncomfortable? Imagine that!
Think of what is learned in a situation where one's needs cannot be immediately met. No snacks at hand? Learn to wait. (No, they won't starve.) Desperate for a toilet break? Be responsible for listening to your body. (Yes, you should've used that bathroom at the last gas station when you were asked to do so!)
The possibilities are endless.
3. Family Trips must be busy and entertaining at all times.
Family holidays are a perfect opportunity to teach vital life (survival) skills. Not just to get lots of candy floss and a nice sun tan.
Great thinkers, from Aristotle to educational psychologist Jean Piaget, advocated experiential learning. (i.e. learning through experience, adventure and action.) They never said that meant 24/7 entertainment. It means diverse experiences with unique teachable moments.
If there's any advice that is worth using it is this: set expectations and take care of yourself.
The most obvious way to protect your mental health is to set expectations. Make sure the kids know what kind of behavior is appropriate while on family trips and holidays. That is as much as they need to know.