Setting Expectations With Your Children On Vacation
Have you ever taken your family on vacation and just a week later, you find yourself needing another vacation? You’re exhausted. Your kids had a lot of fun. But you feel like the trip just didn’t quite meet your expectations. Maybe your kids had the “gimmies” and left you feeling discouraged each night when your agenda throughout the day just wasn’t good enough. I’ve been there. I’m currently on vacation and my wife and I work together in setting expectations with our children beforehand to ensure a profitable trip.
It is okay to say “no”
Despite our best efforts, we are finding that our kids seem to have forgotten our conversation from a few days ago. Only two days in and our kids are doing their best to plan their own agenda for each day. Their ideal agenda each day involves ice cream, arcades, more ice cream, rides, many snacks, lemonade, a stuffed animal, more rides and then ice cream for dessert. You get the idea.
Here’s the thing. I’m very much a “yes man.” I have always struggled wanting to please others and not make anyone mad. It has its pros and cons. When we go on vacation, I do want to see my children happy and I want them to have a blast. But there comes a point where you have to be careful and remind yourself that it is okay to say “no.” Just please don’t yell at your kids!
That’s why we have several conversations before vacation and then a few during vacation. Having those conversations together as a family will reinforce why you have to say “no” and it will allow you to set (or re-set) your expectations.
Remind your children to be thankful
Setting expectations with your children can be tough…especially on vacation! I enjoy seeing my kids smile and make memories together. But I also remind them that they have a lot to be thankful for. We might not be buying a brand new stuffed animal every time we walk by their favorite store. And that’s okay. In those moments where they are sad that we said no, I remind them of all they have to be thankful for. Some families can’t afford to take family vacations and we are blessed to be experiencing vacation together.
Bring it back to perspective for your children. It will change their mindset.
You control the conversation
As a family, it’s important that we all are connected with one another and do activities together during our vacation. However, I have noticed that when I let our children know that we are going to get ice cream, my son will jump in: “Oh, let’s go mini-golfing after our ice cream!”
Wait a minute. He is now trying to change the agenda and add to it. Wrong. You’re the parent. You control the conversation. As his dad, I have a responsibility to talk to my son and explain why we won’t be doing mini-golf and just enjoying ice cream as a single event. Now, if we have time in the day, sure maybe we can throw mini-golf in. But if you struggle with this, it is important to remind your child you and mommy make the final decisions, even if it’s not the favorite decision.
Setting expectations with your children on vacation isn’t easy. But when you do it correctly, you can feel refreshed. Connection with your children takes place and THAT is the most important piece of the puzzle.