“Disneyworld is not in your cards, kids!” Those were the last words I said when my mother, my three children and myself arrived back from our Spring Break vacation. We were all sleep deprived after being in the Las Vegas-like LEGOLAND Resort filled with Legos, entertainment, life-size Lego characters, and loud music and that was just the lobby.
It was, I’m sure the children’s dream and my nightmare. Fighting over Legos in the lobby, throwing large foam Legos at each other at the pool, fighting over Legos in the bedroom; I had nightmares of Legos! If you have been, you might have been like the other smiling families having a good time, but our scenario was an unfortunate case. I apologized to my mother. So, when she asked to go on another vacation with our children, I thought she was off her rocker.
She admitted that maybe she was a glutton for punishment or maybe she just loved her grandchildren that much. Ugh, it tugged at my heartstrings. I told her that I wanted her to enjoy her vacations and that she deserved to have fun. It was best we did not go on vacation with each other. She called the next day, “What about an all-inclusive resort?” The day after that, “How about New England?” And the day after that, “Maybe we should stay close by, Chicago?” After days of her calling, and me telling her “No,” I finally said, “The kids would do the best camping so they may explore nature, play with sticks, and walk outside to have some independence.” Both of us knew with us two women supervising, camping was not going to happen. At the end of the week, she finally said, “How about Olgelbay?” How could I say no? I told her that I thought that Olgelbay in Wheeling, West Virginia was a wonderful idea.
She admitted that she thought in her mind that LEGOLAND would have been different. She imagined having so much fun with the kids. This time she wanted to lower her expectations. I took it one step further, “How about we have NO expectations this time.” AGREED!
No expectations, no cooking, no cleaning, a quiet room, nature, mountains, and even Spiderman. We were off to a good start. But how else could we ensure that our vacation was going to be pleasant so we would not repeat the travel trauma?
Here are some ideas that worked for us to recover from an unsuccessful vacation and having faith that we can all just get along:
Have no expectations for results of travels while giving clear expectations to your children on what to expect.
Without pointing fingers or casting blame, sit your family down and allow time for reflection. Ask them to imagine and go back to a past visit with family or the last vacation. Remember and imagine those times there was fighting, name calling, bossing around, or grabbing toys. How did that feel?
3 Rs to Recovery
The three Rs to recovery based on Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson are:
1.) Recognize the mistake with a feeling of responsibility not blame;
2.) Reconcile by apologizing; and
3.) Resolve the problem by working on a solution.
Now that your family has recognized the problems, have them reconcile those problems in their own way and resolve the challenges through imagery. Have your family imagine how they would want a vacation to be, how they would have solved the problem in the moment.
Bugs and Wishes
Next, ask family members to state what bugged them about their last vacation and what they wish would happen for next time. When first practicing wishes, children might say, “It bugs me… and I wish you would stop.” However, we want to encourage them to say what they want to happen to correct the problem. For example, “I want you to keep your hands to yourself and ask when you want a toy.”
Remember that our children and we aren’t trying to be bad, we are just doing the best we can at the time with the skills we have. So now that we have our “wishes,” reflect on how the family wishes can come true.
Hug it out
Now is the time to have a group hug. Connect before the next trip starts. When we connect, it activates the right side of our brains emotionally so that our children may control and be receptive to their left-brain lessons and discipline.
How about a little car time fun? Rather than hearing “are we there yet?” or “can I listen to the fight song” for the 10th time in a row, have the family come up with a vacation playlist choosing a few songs to add to the list.
If you have little ones, sound free toys and a few books can make the car ride, downtime and the night time routine a little easier for everyone.
Following the above steps ensured an enjoyable and relaxing vacation, besides the bee stings, pee accidents, and bed jumping. I’m sure I’m forgetting more. It can’t all be perfect. Maybe, Disneyworld is not far from our future after all.