Travelling with a Grown up Family
There are lots of tips for handling holidays with tiny-tots or teenagers, but far less information around for managing harmonious travel with grown up, or almost grown up children. One excellent exception to this claim is this blog, flashpacking family.com which is great fun to read..
These are my top tips for ensuring a harmonious time, rather than a holiday from hell
Time Out Don't feel you have to do everything together all of the time. Your kids are used to being independent so let them have some space. If they don't want to do everything with you and just want to 'chill' at home don't sweat it, it doesn't really matter if they don't tick off everything on your 'sight-seeing' agenda.
Treat your Family Like Friends Although I'm a firm believer that parents should be 'parents' to their off-spring and not their 'friends', I relax this rule a bit on holidays. After all in the same way you choose which friends to travel with you are choosing to take your grown up kids away with you. It makes sense to therefore afford them the same level of respect that you would your actual friends. If that sounds too 'goody-goody' to be true, it really isn't - all I mean is wait untli they are not there to have a moan and gossip about them!
Timings Know yours (and more likely your kids) tolerance levels of how much time they can spend together as a farmily unit before everyone starts driving each other mad. It is quality not quantity that is important! So if after a week or two your grown-up children want to dump you and go back to their uni friends for a few days don't take it as a personal snub. Guilt tripping them is not a good plan. #Just saying!
Phones Do not comment on screen time usage. They are grown ups and can use their phones as much as they like. I was going to say don't feel obliged to foot the bill for extra 4G data when travelling in remote areas, but who am I kidding, just pay the bill!
Reminisce Presumably if you are travelling with grown up kids it is because holiday experiences have been fun in the past. Take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the good times you've had together.
Play Games In my opinion you're never too old to play cards after dinner..
Assign Roles Keep the whole family engaged in the trip by involving everyone in the planning of the days and the assigning of organisational roles such as navigator or restuarant chooser. If someone doesn't like their role agree to swap the next day.
Keep Busy Have plenty of things to do, Just like when the kids were little ensure there is reading material on hand, cards, games, and plenty of activities to participate in. Be active and keep the endorphines pumping with plenty of brisk walks!
Join in the Fun Joke, be daft, relax, have fun. Be prepared to be the butt of the kids jokes (to a point!)
Be Vulnerable The kids are grown up and it is ok to share with them what it means to you to spend time with them. This will make them feel valued.
Be your Best Self (Well at least for some of the time!) If you are like me half of the conversations that you have with your 'grown up' kids, will be about practicalities and organisational things. Use this time to really connect at a deeper level. Chat with the kids about their lives and even perhaps share stuff about yourself. Ask questions (without being too nosey!) seek their views, and remember and respect what they have to say. In essence, be your best self.
And if all that sounds too much like hard work remember that they are grown up and don't have to come. With that in mind (shock, horror!) my final tip is:
Take a Break from the Family! I've had the time of my life with Mick and our girls on our recent NorthCoast500 Land Rover adventure. Without an ounce of sarcasm, my gratitude book overfloweth. I've loved it. Also, since returning I've enjoyed spending time with my own parents. (I wonder if they are giving advice to their own friends about managing time with a middle-aged interfering daughter?! Maybe, maybe not!) I do though have a quick mini-break planned for next weekend too, and there won't be a family member in sight.!
What was that about being my best self?! It seems it's harder than it looks, but never mind! Watch this space for my next post on the value of nurturing friendship!