Many of us are looking forward to taking a trip this upcoming, long Memorial Day weekend or sometime later this summer. Vacations involving the kids or other family members can be anything from relaxing. Many times there is constant bickering or someone is always unhappy. As parents, we feel frustrated (at the very least) because we have just dropped a ton of money and put effort into planning the whole experience and now no one is enjoying themselves.
So how do we prevent this from happening?
The goal is to PREVENT problems from occurring before you even pull out your suitcases. Just like the Thanksgiving and Newport Trip examples in Chapter 12 of the P.E.T. book (pages 246-248), talking about expectations and wants can help create your family's perfect vacation.
With permission (thank you Tim), I wanted to share a beautiful example of how a current Book Club Dad used a few P.E.T. skills on a recent trip that ultimately left his teenage kids saying "that was the best vacation we have ever taken!"
First, it should be mentioned this Dad loves to take his kids on adventures and places that will blow their minds (his want). In preparing for the trip, he reached out to his kids in a couple of ways (verbal, text, google doc) to discuss their needs and wants for the trip. In doing this, he let each child know their desires for the trip were just as important as what he wanted to do.
The vacation brainstorm (using Method III) included shopping, time by the pool, taking photographs, visiting specific restaurants, etc. Knowing all of these wants ahead of time, this Dad could plan accordingly. He was able to respond with more understanding when a previously discussed want of his daughter's came up minutes before driving to the airport. He did not dismiss her. He knew it was important to her, made it happen, and still managed to drop off the rental car and made their flight. High five!
Another thing this Ohio Dad did was to honor his own needs on the trip. When he didn't want to do the activity everyone else wanted to do, he listened to his own need for some introvert time and decided to stay at the hotel and relax. This allowed him to keep his Window of Acceptance (a la the Behavior Window) even bigger for the next adventure on the itinerary. Your needs are as important as your kids or other family members' needs. Don't forget to take care of yourself!
Lastly, when they got home, he sent positive I-Messages to each person on the trip. This gave him a chance to share his genuine feelings about the time they spent together. They were able to discuss and reflect on some things that had happened and send gratitude to each other, ultimately laying the groundwork for their next epic adventure. Did I mention there was horseback riding on the layover??
So before you take your next trip, do some preventative planning. Use Method III as your guide to brainstorm and curate the perfect family vacation. Check in with everyone about their needs and wants and find a way to include those needs in the schedule.
This is advice I wish I would have taken myself on our last family Legoland trip. After two full days at the park with Legos coming out of my ears, my kids let me know the trip wasn't that great because they never got to swim in the hotel pool. Since that trip, I ensure we always make time to jump into the pool.
Wishing you a wonderful trip!