You've been planning for it since the weather started getting warmer. You've been looking forward to spending time as a family, to adventures, to getting to connect with your kids without fights about homework and getting up for school on time.
You've spent a ton of time and money trying to create the best summer vacation, whether you're traveling for summer break or having a staycation. You've even read the other blogs - the 5 big travel vacation mistakes, how to avoid summer break child behavior problems, how to make sure you don't mess up your kids summer sleep schedule...
But let me tell you something so many of those mainstream parenting blogs don't tell you - here are 3 common mistakes that will get in the way of that perfect summer vacation with your kids, and how to avoid them. Three ways to make sure you connect instead of have conflict, and get an actual refreshing break.
Three Mistakes Parents Make on Summer Break
Making all the decisions themselves
Hey parents. It's okay to get your kids input with how and where you spend your vacation! Hot take: It's their break too! Let them have control and agency, practice collaborative decision making, and respect their choices. It's okay to spend family resources on fulfilling your children's wants.
One of my all time favorite family vacations was a big trip we took to Dinosaur National Monument, thanks to my then-6-year-old. He got so much value, not only out of being able to touch actual dino fossils, but also being able to tell everyone proudly that he got to plan it. He glowed with the knowledge that we respected his interests enough to have this amazing experience!
Trying to make everything "educational"
UGH. STOP IT. Not everything needs to be a lesson! Or rather - not every learning experience needs to be articulated or formalized to be learned from. I promise, your kids are learning on your vacation. They can't help it. Ever tried to spend a day NOT learning something? It's impossible. They're learning. Let them just have the experience without any extra anything.
We learn best when we are enjoying ourselves without coercion or pressure. They get enough of it during the school year. Give them a break.
Cutting your kids off from their friends
Sometimes the joy of an experience is showing it off! Just because your kids are on their phones during a vacation doesn't mean they aren't enjoying themselves. Friendships are really, really important to your kids and stuff in their social life can change quickly. Even
being cut off from them for a week can be monumental in their world.
Be compassionate and let them view your summer break through their own, and their friends, eyes. You show them respect, and create a bridge between you instead of resentment.
Want more info on how to handle summer break and screen time? Check out this webinar for parents!
Roya Dedeaux (rhymes with play doh!) is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in playful parenting. She is the author of Connect with Courage: how to release fear and find joy in the places your kids take you. Find her books, journals, and parenting tools at www.royadedeaux.com/shop