Most of us know that we need to take a vacation from work. Vacations are important to our health and well-being. But they are also stressful, especially for parents. There's the planning, the activities, the worry about the fun that you will or will not have, and the exhaustion from traveling.

This past summer I've been thinking about the vacations we went on when I was little. I have no idea how my Mom went about planning them. I know that she didn't use a travel agent, so I just imagine her spending lots of time looking through magazines for ideas and then making lots of phone calls. (Thanks, Mom!)

With technology, it is a lot easier to plan a vacation these days, but we have another problem when it comes to taking time off. A recent study which took a look at parenting advice doled out over the last 28 years show an increasing amount of fears that parents are trying to address when planning vacations - everything from their children slipping academically to everyone having a good time. So now we have the problem that parents need vacations from their vacations.

I want to return from our family vacations well-rested and happy. So, here's how we are approaching vacations as a family:

  • Keep it a surprise. I learned this from a coworker. She never tells her children when or where they are going on vacation - that way it feels like more of an adventure for them and it negates the pre-trip anticipation, so they can stay focused on school and other activities.
  • All inclusive resorts are wonderful. At first this seemed a little lazy to me, but honestly, the worry-free aspect to it is great for parents. You can always use the inclusive as your starting point and then add activities from there.
  • Be flexible. Don't schedule every moment of your day. That is the easiest way to make your vacation feel like work. A little downtime is a good thing.
  • You don't need to be together all the time. Do you normally spend 24/7 with your family? Probably not. It's fine to spend some time alone.
  • Take a vacation from your vacation. Are you one of those families that does the same thing every year? Mix it up a bit and see how that turns out. Or, if Mom normally does the planning, let Dad plan it. See what happens.

Are you taking a vacation this year? If so, where are you going? Tell me at Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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