family vacation kidsSummer is upon us and family travel is eminent. I love THE IDEA of getting out of town for a bit. However, THE REALITY of leaving with the entire family can be exhausting. If your family is anything like ours, the concept of vacationing goes like this: You actually factor in some extra time to leave, then turn around and go back to the house to get the one thing you stayed up all night telling yourself to not forget!

Vacationing used to be a breeding ground for tiffs and tough times. I have a friend who says taking a family vacation is just a way to go fight in a different place.

My husband Jodie and I have learned a few things that help us travel in “peace” with our kids. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too.

1. Manage expectations. Talk OUT LOUD with your spouse regarding what would make your trip great and also what would create anxiety. If you understand what would make each person’s dream come true or what they’re worried about, then you can take that into consideration. Take action steps to make that person’s dream come true while being considerate and helping ease anxiety. When we go see my parents, Jodie loves to go to a restaurant in Strawn, Texas, called Mary’s. He can put up with a lot of other randomness on our trip if he knows that an ungodly-sized chicken-fried steak is in the forecast. Usually we each only get one dream granted per trip. Deal with it

2. Get organized. Trying to do everything needed to get gone the day we’re leaving on a trip is a sure-fire way to put me in my pain cycle. One of the kindest things I can do for myself is handle laundry, packing suitcases and servicing the car 1-2 days in advance. If we’re feeling super motivated, then we pack everything in the car the night before we leave.

3. Set realistic travel plans. When we’re traveling with kids, we understand we’ll have to stop. A lot. Or we can force it and deal with explosions of emotion 10 miles from our destination. Do whatever you want, but setting up children and grownups for meltdowns just doesn’t sound like a nice, relaxing atmosphere.

4. My heart is my responsibility. If I find myself heading down a bad path emotionally, I need to be the grown up and figure out what’s going on and make a choice to get back on a better path. Early on in our marriage I vented all my frustration on my husband when we’d leave town. After a while we figured out that I needed to eat an apple for the first 10 miles of the trip. I know it’s silly, but it helped give me time to cool off and get some perspective.

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You being yourself is the best start to making your trip awesome!

This post was written by Jodi LaFrance. To read more about her, click here.