Article: Making Memories
by Ms. Christina Miller, Owner, Millhopper Montessori School
CHRISTINA MILLER HAS BEEN THE PRESIDENT OF A PRIVATE SCHOOL IN GAINESVILLE FOR 39 YEARS. SHE HAS A B.A. IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION AND A MA IN CURRICULUM DESIGN AND ALSO HOLDS CERTIFICATION IN MONTESSORI EDUCATION FROM AGE TWO TO MIDDLE SCHOOL. CHRISTINA LOVES TO TRAVEL ESPECIALLY TO EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCES. BOATING IS HER FAVORITE PASTIME. SHE HAS ONE DAUGHTER AND ONE GRANDDAUGHTER.
FAMILY VACATIONS CAN CREATE SOME OF THE MOST CHERISHED AND VIVID MEMORIES.
Vacation time spent together can be some of the best “quality time” family members can have with each other. Often when we look back as adults the years may seem to be a run-on sentence except for the punctuation of the family vacations. Sometimes even the troubling moments that often occur can ironically bring families closer. Those instances can be what is remembered most and laughed about for many years after.
Often family vacations take the form of visiting another extended part of the family such as grandparents or cousins. Also common is a vacation centered around the children, such as a Disney vacation. Finding a vacation that is suitable for all ages, especially teenagers mixed with younger children, can be challenging, requiring a bit of creative pre-planning.
For those who like cruising, the larger cruise ships have something for everyone. However, the quality time will be compromised if everyone is off in different directions. A camping trip would allow for more quality time but the teenagers will be crawling out of their skin especially without Wi-Fi, which can be disappointing in the woods. I highly recommend you consider the ages of the children and their interests as well as the duration of vacation time.
Planning the trip together as a family is advantageous. Each member of the family can be assigned to consider various aspects once the when and where have been decided. A teenager may want to choose one or more of the sites to visit. Getting the teenagers to help plan will ensure that they are willing participants. A good plan is vital but it is also important to not be over-scheduled. It is never enjoyable to have the schedule dictate the entire trip. This is an advantage of a cruise because so many things are available simultaneously as well as at different times of the day.
Some families have found banning or limiting media helpful to become fully engaged in the vacation. It is common these days for teens as well as adults to be so busy taking pictures, and posting to Facebook with explanations, that they miss what came next, such as the whale that jumped out of the water while they were editing their last photo. Creating your vacation on an online timeline can make you miss the real vacation you could have been having. Also, the constant alerts of text messages or other incoming information creates a distraction that can ruin any attempt at quality time. Another distraction and saboteur of family bonding is when a friend is brought along. It is preferable to bring a cousin, etc. rather than a friend of one of the children.
I would always encourage packing as light as possible especially if air travel is involved. Air travel can be a challenge when delays and unforeseen setbacks occur. If possible, have back-up plans if the vacation allows. The winter holidays afford families the time to take a winter trip. If fl ying across the country from Florida, a southern route, such as through Texas rather than Chicago, can help with flight cancellations because of inclement weather in the north. Much can be chalked-up to common sense but often we see more clearly after the trip when hindsight is 20-20.
And finally, the teacher in me always emphasizes the importance and opportunity that a family vacation provides for learning. Not only are there opportunities to explore new places, but there are also rewards to be found planning the trip and experiencing problem-solving situations together along with brainstorming and learning about each other. And the best opportunity of all is learning patience. For more tips, I recommend 45 Secrets for Fabulous Family Vacations at www.parents.com.