Mom and play ex­pert Mered­ith Sin­clair shares her ad­vice for mak­ing awesome va­ca­tion mem­o­ries!


Ex­pert ad­vice for a seam­less fam­ily va­ca­tion

Our kids have po­lar-op­po­site in­ter­ests. Any ideas for help­ing them keep a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude when we’re do­ing some­thing that bores them to death?

Be­fore you tum­ble into a bot­tom­less pit of sib­ling squab­bles over sum­mer­va­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, set your kids up for suc­cess with a fam­ily pow­wow about the im­por­tance of putting our­selves in some­one else’s sneak­ers. Make it spe­cial by set­ting up an old-fash­ioned ice-cream so­cial with your kids one night be­fore break be­gins … be­cause all dis­cus­sions are much bet­ter over ice cream. (School al­ready out? It’s not too late!) As ev­ery­one is en­joy­ing treats, bust out a gi­ant poster board ti­tled “Fam­ily Sum­mer Fun” and have your kids help you make a list of all trips, ad­ven­tures, and shenani­gans they want to ex­pe­ri­ence over the next few months, us­ing dif­fer­ent col­ored mark­ers for each child’s sug­ges­tions. Then take a mo­ment to look at the list to­gether and talk about what it would be like if you took only one per­son’s ideas and ig­nored all the oth­ers. How would the other fam­ily mem­bers feel? Fin­ish up by hav­ing your crew come up with a cou­ple of ideas to help make sure

ev­ery­one has a great sum­mer va­ca­tion, like pick­ing a dif­fer­ent col­ored sug­ges­tion from the list each week or hav­ing one child be the official pho­tog­ra­pher dur­ing an ac­tiv­ity he’s not that into.

We’d love our kids to be more in­volved in plan­ning our trips. How can we get them started?

Easy! Have your older kids put that screen time they love so much to good use: Pro­vide web­sites, travel mag­a­zines, and brochures to as­sist them with their va­ca­tion re­search, and task your tribe with putting to­gether a cre­ative Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion de­scrib­ing one pos­si­ble road trip and one trip that would re­quire, say, a plane. Ask them to in­clude photos, ac­tiv­i­ties, ho­tels, or camp­grounds they like, and other cool trip ad­vice they find. Younger sib­lings can join in by cre­at­ing ad­di­tional low-tech vis­ual aids—like draw­ing pic­tures or past­ing photos on sheets of card­stock.

The post-va­ca­tion blues are real in our house, es­pe­cially af­ter vis­it­ing much-beloved long-dis­tance fam­ily. How can we help the kids make the tran­si­tion to home when they’re miss­ing their cousins sooo much? It’s hard to see va­ca­tion come to an end, es­pe­cially when it was ev­ery­thing we hoped for and more! Here are a cou­ple of sim­ple ideas to help ease ev­ery­one back into real life once the party’s over:

If you don’t have one al­ready on the cal­en­dar, sched­ule a weekly phone call or Face­time with the rel­a­tives you’re miss­ing. It sounds sim­ple, but mak­ing a date to re­con­nect with far-off fam­ily gives ev­ery­one some­thing to look for­ward to each week and makes the af­ter-va­cay weeks less abrupt and sad. Be sure to ar­range the first one a day or two af­ter you get home.

Cre­ate a col­lec­tive mem­ory board com­mem­o­rat­ing all the great times you had! One of my fa­vorite quotes is “Don’t cry be­cause it’s over. Smile be­cause it hap­pened.” To help your gang shift from feel­ing blue about say­ing good­bye, cel­e­brate their new mem­o­ries. Print out some of the photos you took while away and gather a few sou­venirs from your trip (movie stubs, pic­tures from brochures, tick­ets to places you visited … ). Then grab some mark­ers and glue sticks, put on some fun mu­sic, and cre­ate a col­lage to­gether. Hang it in the kitchen!

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