We just came back from a vacation to Disney World with Grandpa. From the moment we arrived, my kids seemed much whinier, more demanding and sassier than usual. The worst part: Grandpa definitely noticed.
Catherine Pearlman, a licensed social worker who lives in New Rochelle with her two children, started The Family Coach to help parents solve every day problems that many of us face. Traveling with kids is a big one and she’s got a lot of helpful advice. Disclaimer: I did a lot wrong on our trip and when we leave to visit Grandpa #2 on spring break, I’m going to follow her advice.
Expect some whining.
“Lower your expectations on vacation,” says Catherine. “Being away from your home environment and typical schedule can be very stressful.” It’s true. Your kids won’t be themselves after the flying, sleeping in a different bed, eating different food and walking around a lot more than usual. So they will be tired, cranky and more demanding. Knowing this and expecting the behavior will make parents feel better about giving into their demands more than they would at home. Also, kids will have high expectations about the trip. If something goes wrong in their eyes, they’ll be upset.
Don’t try to do too much.
One of Catherine’s tips that really hit home for me is: “Plan less and enjoy more.” We do enough planning at home! Enjoy the moment.
Define good behavior for them.
Talk to your kids about what good behavior is expected on the trip and what will happen if they aren’t well behaved. Remind your kids about what will happen when they go through security at the airport, sitting in their seats on the airplane, sharing a bed at the hotel, saying “thank you” and “please” around grandparents and any other possible bad behavior you can think of. If they know what to expect, kids may do better as they navigate security and endure the flight.
“Have a plan B.”
If something goes wrong and nobody is having fun, make a change. “Find ways to give in to the craziness and give yourself a break,” she says. Case in point: At Disney, my daughter was afraid of the characters. We were on a trip of a lifetime and she wanted to hide in her stroller. My husband took her to walk around and eat ice cream while I brought our other daughter on rides. We had to split up. Not exactly ideal, but it salvaged the trip.
After hearing Catherine’s advice, I realized that her tips for traveling with kids apply to every day life, too. If I only I can remember her words of wisdom when we fly to Arizona in a few weeks. I’ll be on my own on the outbound flight, so wish me luck!
Catherine offers in-home consultation, parenting education and seminars on parenting issues. She can assist with family challenges such as new parent concerns, family counseling, toilet training, post-partum depression, tantrums, discipline, sleep issues and more. If you’re schedule is too crazy for an in-home visit, she offers advice by e-mail and over the phone, too. Find out more at The Family Coach.