Planning a Summer Family Vacation? Read This First!

family vacation

Family Vacation Tips

How to De-stress and Have Family Fun While Traveling with Children and Teens

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Family fun or family bummed? “I’m dreading our drive out to Orlando this year,” said Jane, mother of 14-year-old Katie Ann, 8-year-old Kayla and 5-year-old Kevin, at our monthly parenting coaching group.  “We haven’t even left yet and I can already hear the cacophony of ‘Are we there yet?’ ringing in my head. The last time we did this, Kayla threw her shoes out the window and Kevin told me I was the worst mommy ever because he was so bored. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves!”

Many families will be making the trek somewhere fun for summer vacation this year.  Perhaps it’ll just be you and the kids– perhaps you’ll be bringing the grandparents along as well. While the trip can be exciting, it can also be potentially stressful.  After all, you’re leaving the comforts of home and throwing your typical routine out the window.  That, coupled with the cramped quarters of the long car ride or the hustle and bustle of a chaotic airport can be a source of uneasiness. While you may not be able to forecast every need in advance or ensure everyone’s happy mood at all times, you can take steps to reduce the hassles.  However, you must be prepared:

(1) Pack for what may go awry: Nobody wants their children getting sunburned, bruised or sick while on vacation.  A little forethought and smart packing can go a long way.  What does your child need when he or she feels tired or sick? What does your daughter need if she gets her period? Ensuring that you have aloe for burns, Band-Aids® for cuts and a special pillow for someone who may get carsick is essential for everyone’s sanity and comfort.

(2) Brainstorm travel games before leaving: There are infinite travel games for planes or long car ride, but we can’t always think of them on the spot.  Brainstorm and research them before you leave.  Games like I Spy, Padiddle (spotting a car with one headlight) and Alphabet can eat up time and don’t require props.  Activities like crosswords, MadLibs™ and “Where’s Waldo” take more preparation and a trip to the bookstore before you leave.  Making sure you have what you need to entertain the troops is vital for a relaxing trip.

(3) Plan stops along the way: While you may just want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, planning scheduled stops during a long drive can reduce stress and provide excitement.  It doesn’t have to break the budget— just give everyone a break! Are you passing an old friend’s town? A national monument? A well-reviewed children’s restaurant? These are great places to get out, stretch your legs, and break up the trip. Some parents who don’t want to take too much time for lunch program a phone number for a kid-friendly deli into their phone and call from the road.  When they reach the restaurant, their food is waiting.  Now that’s fast food.

(4) Create a bonding experience: Many kids have trouble opening up to their parents during face-to-face talks.  In the car, sitting side by side, conversation comes more easily.  Communication games can get things started.  Games like “Share One Thing,” in which someone picks a topic and everyone shares a response to it, can lead to  wonderful stories.  For example, “share one thing that made you laugh this week” can kick things off.  You can also use Sentence Stems like “if I won the lottery I would…”.When conversation is a “side bar” rather than a main event, it feels easier and breezier for everyone.

(5) Get innovative but remember the classics: Classic toys and activities like cards and crayons can provide great entertainment on a long trip.  Try Legos® or dolls to dress up. Handheld games work wonders as well. You can also think outside the box.  Wrap small presents before leaving and let your children open one per hour.  Give your children dry erase markers (which wipe off easily) to decorate the windows.  If all else fails, a portable DVD player will go a long way. Just remember to provide earphones so you can get some peace and quiet during the movie!

(6) Bring snacks: Hungry family members make any trip unpleasant.  Be sure to bring orange segments, carrot sticks, granola bars, and raisins.  And yes, you should probably have some “fun snacks” as well such as a few of your children’s favorite cookies or miniature chocolate bars.  Juice boxes and small bottles of water are easy to pack and carry in small bags.  To keep the sugar factor down, bring a sippy cup or thermos and mix water and juice together to dilute the potency. 

(7) Think Clean and Comfortable: We want our children to be clean and comfortable, but things like food, juice, markers and crayons can lead to big messes. Bring an extra change of clothes for those who are bound to get dirty, and don’t forget wipes and tissues. Make sure your children wear comfortable shoes and take an extra pair in case the ones they are wearing are giving them blisters.   Ask everyone to bring an extra light jacket or sweater in case they get chilly in the car or on the plane. 

We all know what they say about “an ounce of prevention.”  When we ensure that our family is organized and prepared, we can focus on the best parts of the trip—having a great time, enjoying each other’s company and making wonderful memories!  Whether you’re going away or staying close to home, we hope your next family vacation is filled with family fun.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

10 Ways to Have Big Fun on a Small Family Budget: The Next 5 Ways

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Family Fun on a Small Budget

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Yesterday we began talking about the first 5 ways to have fun with our families while NOT spending a lot of dough.  Even though the economy may be down and dollars a bit short, parents and children can still enjoy themselves and make great memories!

  1. Plan a scavenger hunt: Invite the neighbors over to find the treasure in one of your backyards or at a neighborhood family-friendly store!  Separate children into teams (each with an adult supervisor) and have each team wear a certain color for easy identification. Write clues that lead the teams around the neighborhood looking for the “treasure.”  Each neighbor can contribute something to the “pot” (or you can all go into it together) such as baked goods, a cool t-shirt, beaded necklaces or art supplies, a gift card, or whatever other low cost fun item that comes to mind.  (Also see geocaching in yesterday’s comment section).
  2. Volunteer: What a wonderful way to contribute to your community and have fun as well!  Donate time to the local animal shelter. Teach the children to sing or dance for the women and men at the nursing home in town.  Allow the children to help out with after classes that cater to children with special needs.  Volunteering gets children out of the house, doing something helpful and generous, and having a great time.
  3. Create your own power outage: When the power is out, the family tends to come together.  Shut off the lights, the computer and the TV.  Spread out a blanket on the floor or huddle up in bed, tell stories, play flashlight or word games, and have a special “power outage picnic.”
  4. Decorate old clothes: Get out the old jeans and t-shirts and decorate!  Use acrylic paints, fabric remnants, stamps, dye, patches and rhinestones. These kinds of projects can breed new interest in forgotten clothes and can offer a different art medium besides paper.
  5. Get outside and enjoy! It might be starting to cool down but that doesn’t mean we have to stay inside.  Go sledding! Build a fort!  Create snow sculptures and snow angels.  And who can forget the hot cocoa that is a must after rolling around in the cold? When we let kids be kids— and allow ourselves to revisit the fun of childhood as well, we are creating powerful connections with our children, allowing their imagination to expand and showing them that we don’t have to always take life so seriously.
These ideas may not cost a lot of money but they are certainly big on fun.  Some might say that these low cost ideas can be even more enjoyable than the expensive trips, costly games, and nights eating out.  The important thing is that you are all together and creating memories.  Don’t forget the camera!  Participation in these budget-friendly activities are certain to bring on smiles that should be saved forever in your family scrapbook!
Please keep adding your ideas! Comment below!
Dr. Robyn Silverman signs
 
Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child development specialist, success coach, and parenting expert who has won several awards for her tips-based articles. She speaks at conferences and businesses worldwide discussing topics such as creating positive limits for children, raising kids with character, and bringing out your child’s inner leader. She also works with individuals and families on making their lives meaningful, successful, and powerful. For more information, please visit www.DrRobynSilverman.com , for coaching go to www.QuickSilverCoaching.com or to take part in her Powerful Parenting Blog, visit http://www.DrRobynsBlog.com. Dr. Robyn lives in Weymouth with her family.
 
 
 

10 Ways to Have Big Fun on a Small Budget: The first 5 Ways

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How Families can Still Let Loose on a Tight Budget! The First 5 Ways

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

 

Downturned Economy. Family budget. Excess spending. We’re getting an earful these days.  The economy is spiraling down while costs are rising up.  Parents are tightening their belts, staying close to home, and clamping down on extra spending. But does that mean that we have to hang up our fun clothes and wait for time to pass?  No way!

 

Yes, we all know about the old inexpensive pastimes.  Read a book. Ride your bike. Go to the park.  But it’s clear that families are looking for more variety these days.  They don’t mind passing on costly vacations if they can still have a good time close to home. A parent contacted me through our parenting blog the other day and said, “Dr. Robyn, we’re all ‘parked out!’ What else can we do that doesn’t cost a lot of money but is still loads of fun?”

 

Here are the first 5 ways to have big fun on a small budget:

  halloween child costume lion

1.  Throw a costume party: Why do all costumes have to go back in the closet after Halloween?  Invite your favorite families from around the neighborhood and ask them to dress up.  Make it thematic!  Be your favorite character from a book!  Come as your favorite sports star!  Have an “out of this world party” where everyone dresses up as a creature that only exists in their imagination!  To keep costs down, make it a potluck and ask every family to bring a yummy dish and their favorite game.

 

2.  Have an inside picnic: Make fried chicken and all the fix’ns, if you’d like!  Spread out the blanket, play games, and let your imagination go wild.  Sometimes simply doing something ordinary, like having a meal together, in a different way, can make the time spent extra fun and enjoyable for everyone.

3.  Tap into the library, Y, after-school programs or community center: You might be surprised by the great programs, discounted events, and free passes that your local library, community center, family-friendly after-school program or Y provides. Children’s activities such as “story time,” “drama fun,” and invited children’s speakers or singers are a great way to enjoy free or low-cost entertainment.  Often, the local Y will offer free swim, family nights, and sporting events. Library passes to the science center, children’s museums, zoos, and aquariums are also great bets for fun times! After-school programs often offer free introductory lessons, low cost parents’ night out, and free or low cost community-serving classes (i.e. self defence, stranger danger). And who can forget the terrific and low cost theater productions put on by your local thespians!?!

 

4.  Write a story together: Get the children together and write a story!  You can base it on an event that happened in your family or something that simply comes from your family’s imagination. Allow your children to illustrate the story and put the book together.  You can even give out copies for grandma’s birthday or for the holidays one year.

parents cooking with children

5.  Teach your children how to cook: One of the most practical skills I learned from my mom and grandmother is how to cook.  Often, time is short and schedules are packed. Spending time teaching this skill may not always seem possible– you just want to get it done, get everyone fed, and relax, right?  However, cooking together is a fun thing to do and eventually, a little help in the kitchen can save you time and money!  Besides that, it’s a skill that connects family members, has implications rooted in family history, and allows your family to pass on their legacy to the next generation through food.  Get creative!  How about some leftover garbage soup?!? Of course, you can venture outside of your own traditional foods and experiment with making cuisine from different cultures!

 

Please share your favorite low-cost ideas below!  And tune in tomorrow for 5 more great budget-friendly options!

 

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs