Our kids are at that magical age where they can DO THINGS on vacation. They can carry their own bag, dining with them is a pleasure (usually), and best of all...THEY REMEMBER IT.
Come on, don’t tell me I’m the only parent that lamented the effort and expense of trips with a babe in arms because they wouldn’t have a clue that they’d been to INSERT AMAZING PLACE and did INSERT COOL THING.
In the last year, it’s been vacation go time around here. Because once we realized that our kiddos were retaining that epic Old Faithful experience, along with that time we rode Pirates of the Caribbean, we were ready to go all in.
But make no mistake—you can pack your bags, pile everyone on a plane, invest mightily in sunscreen, and still not have a great time as a family. Family travel can be exhausting for Mom and Dad.
And isn’t the point of taking time off and doing cool things, to create memories and connections with your family?
Here are 10 things we do when we travel to connect with our kids—whether we’re just heading up to the mountains for a quick camping trip, or enjoying our annual BIG family vacation. (Not all 10 will fit into every trip, but pick a few to include on each trip and you’ll come home feeling like the trip did what it was supposed to — connect your family.)
10 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR FAMILY ON VACATION
1. Say Yes to the Stuff You Usually Say No To
Stay up later. Watch cartoons while you eat breakfast. Add whipped cream to your hot cocoa. Go for it. Being at home and staying on schedule is about keeping the regular scheduled program moving along. Let your kids see you let down your hair and enjoy an ice cream cone on a Tuesday afternoon. SPOIL YOUR DINNER. It will be fine.
2. Slow Down
We rush a lot. I don’t mean to, but we do. Slowing down on vacation is on the top of my list for connecting with my kids. Every morning my son asks me to sit on the couch with him and snuggle, and sadly, sometimes that’s just not in the cards for us. But on our recent trip to Michigan, he and I spent a few mornings swinging on the back porch swing and watching the waves. What’s the totally regular thing your kids are always asking you to do? Do that.
3. Try Something New
This is THE year. The winter that we teach our kiddos to ski. My husband and I spent much of our dating life canoodling on a chair lift and every winter we discuss if they are ready to hit the slopes. THEY ARE. I can’t wait to share the ski day traditions that my Mom taught me when I was a kid (always stash a Snickers bar in your coat for an afternoon snack) and lucky for me, I’m surrounded by EIGHT amazing, family-friendly resorts under the Vail Resorts umbrella. Park City...get ready for us…we’re coming.
See how easy, fun, and fulfilling an epic family trip to these resorts can be!
4. Bring Grandma and Grandpa
Or cousins, or Aunts and Uncles. Go big, drag everyone along. Kids have a way of tuning out their parents and not being as open to new experiences when it’s Mom and Dad doing the pushing. But if your cousins show you how magical it is to run and jump off the boat dock, well then, LOOK OUT.
5. Go Do Something You Did When You Were a Kid
Kids have a hard time imagining that their parents were ever kids themselves. Taking a vacation to a spot that you visited as a child and recreating a similar experience, or photo op, can be fun and exciting for your kids. It’s also a great way to create traditions—my husband’s family has visited Yellowstone for multiple generations, and it means a lot to my kids when my mother-in-law describes coming to the park as a child.
6. Go For a Walk
Some trips lend themselves to A LOT of walking (I’m looking at your theme parks and the great outdoors) but it’s easy to sort of stay cooped up on certain trips. Taking a walk is a great way to a.) get rid of the little kid wiggles b.) see the area you're visiting in a different way c.) talk to your kiddos about the random things that you see or think along the way.
7. Collect Something on Each Trip
We’ve been bitten by the rock collecting bug. Every. Single. Trip. My kiddo’s pockets are packed with rocks and found treasures. (Post-vacation laundry is no-joke.) But this tradition has grown into something fun and sweet and I give them my undivided attention when they pour out their pockets to show me what they brought back and why.
8. Play A Game
While our kids are old enough to pack a lot of fun into a day, they are still young enough (8 and 5) that a packed day will still wipe them out. So we pack games (sudoku books, a deck of cards for Go Fish) or a puzzle along so we can have some down time without clocking screen time.
9. Have the Kids Help With “Chores”
Vacation or not, family travel includes a fair amount of “chores” for Mom and Dad, but those chores become a whole lot more intriguing to kiddos when it’s a bit outside their normal routine. Get some help and you’ll find that you’ve grabbed a little more quality time from your day. For example, my girl was delighted to ride the trolley in Florida to help do the grocery shopping, and hanging the laundry to dry on the line in Michigan was FASCINATING!
10. Be Ridiculous and Silly
I feel like I spend a lot of my time being Not Fun Mom. But on vacation, we can be completely silly. No one knows us! So take that ridiculous selfie in front of the Hulk Hogan statue. Show it to your kids whenever you’re nagging them to pick up their socks.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Vail Resorts. The opinions and text are all mine.