Growing up in my family of 7, summer vacations were always a special time filled with cherished memories. We eagerly awaited my dad's PTO week at the end of July, and together, we made the most of the hot Minnesota summer weather.
Our cabin on Lake Mille Lacs became a hub of joy and adventure as we spent our days swimming, playing on the rope swing, and building cozy pillow forts inside at night. To top it off, my birthday falls in July, turning our vacation into a double celebration with candles, pie, and laughter captured forever in photos.
Now, as a parent, I keep the tradition alive! Vacation in July and a unique birthday celebration—last year was a chilly river plunge in Jackson Hole, WY, and this year, camping with in-laws.
But, if you're raising a strong-willed child who loves outdoor play but also resists the basic necessities like food, water, and sleep, making summer vacation fun can be a challenge. Fear not, I've got four tips that have worked wonders for me, and I hope they'll bring joy to your family too!
- Establish a routine with flexibility: Start your day by considering what your child needs to kick it off right. For us, it's a breakfast with protein and dedicated playtime where my child receives my undivided attention for 15 minutes. After fulfilling these essential needs, we can both enjoy some separate time. Then, we come together again for shared activities, meals, nap/quiet time, and repeat the cycle of togetherness and independence. This approach offers both closeness and predictability while ensuring that you also have time for your needs.
- Plan a mix of activities and involve your child in planning: Just because we enjoy certain things doesn't mean our kids do too. To avoid complaints, arguments, and tantrums, engage your child in planning the vacation schedule. Ask about their preferences and interests, and incorporate their ideas. Giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility will spark enthusiasm and engagement throughout the vacation.
- Give your child up to 2 reminders before a transition: Not threats, just reminders. "A couple more jumps off the raft, then lunchtime!" Too many reminders = resistance, too few = protests. Find that sweet spot.
- When your child protests, slow down and just be with them: Meltdowns can happen, especially when the excitement of summer vacation builds up emotions like a pressure valve. It's essential not to take it personally. Instead, be there for your child, offering comfort and understanding. Take a moment to breathe and be the adult while they release their feelings. Your calmness helps them reset, and the storm will pass.
Bonus Tip: Limit Screen Time 📵 - While it's tempting to let screen time run wild during vacation, setting reasonable limits promotes a healthy balance of activities. Encourage outdoor play, reading, and family interactions to create a well-rounded and enriching vacation experience.
With these tips in your back pocket, I hope your summer vacation becomes a time of joy, growth, and unforgettable moments for you and your family. Embrace the adventure, cherish the challenges, and celebrate the love that summer brings! 🌞💕🏝️
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P.S. Last free monthly gathering call of the summer is tomorrow! Join me and fellow parents of emotionally intense kids to talk about what-the-heck is beneath challenging behaviors and how YOU can make it better with your child.
RSVP for Wed Aug 2nd at noon central: https://samanthamoe.com/monthly-gathering/. Replay will be sent.