Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Vacationing With Young Children


I only remember having one family vacation as a child growing up and that memory has stuck with me my entire life. We went on a camping trip all over Ohio. As a family, we want to give our children the same experiences and memories. We had reservations at first of how our children would react to sitting, traveling, restlessness, and a tight environment. We wondered what to do or where to go. We worried about all the stuff that we would have to pack, carry, and repack. We set all this aside and focused on the experience rather than the barriers.

We recently traveled by car to Florida for a 10-day family vacation. I had prepared for a “National Lampoons Vacation” to Walley World in my mind, but honestly, it was a great experience that brought our family closer together. We simply wanted to get away and get to the beach. Our two children enjoy playing in the sandbox at home, so the beach seemed like a perfect destination. The look on my son’s face was priceless when he saw more sand than he could have ever imagined or move with his little dump truck. I thought they would enjoy the ocean, but surprisingly they both were not interested. We went on a boat ride and my son pointed out and saw the “fishes” (dolphins). My son did not want to leave the Daytona International Speedway with all of the cars. The gift shop was positioned well near the exit and was difficult to leave. We tried different foods, especially fresh seafood, which is difficult to find in Ohio. While at dinner, we experienced a bird “pirate” some fresh french fries from a neighboring table.

In the beginning, I saw the difficulties. The drive, how the family with two children would all sleep in one room, what we would do and where we would go and eat were all problems in my mind. In reality, I was surprised about how our children were up to the challenge and so much more. I am so blessed to have children who love to “do.” They will do anything, try anything, and seem to enjoy so many things. They are sponges and I love watching them soak up as much experience as we can share as a family. It will be these memories that will last their lifetime.

When Parenting Styles Clash

When you go on vacation with family members with children, what if your parenting styles clash?Have you ever spent vacation with your siblings and their children? Did you find that you parent differently from them? My family and I had the pleasure of spending nine days with my sister and her kids. We had a fabulous time. It was nice getting to know my niece and nephew. They are fascinating human beings. On our second day at the beach, I had an “ah ha” moment. I discovered my sister and I parent differently. In addition, I recognized that we share some similarities as well.

My sister takes a very different approach to certain things. We do not have the same expectations on the food our children should eat or helping out around the house. This caused some tension during our nine days together. When I asked my niece to carry two chairs to the beach she did not want to help. We walked in silence until we reached the water. I finally spoke up and gently explained to her that our family is different than the average family and we need everyone chipping in. She apologized and was more helpful throughout the week. Later my sister and I discussed the situation as I thought she would be upset that I addressed this particular issue with my niece. However, she supported my decision to speak to her daughter. When we vacation together next year, we agreed to be proactive and discuss with each other in advance how we would handle each other’s children if there was a direct conflict.

Where my sister and I are both similar is the way we advocate for our children. The mama bear comes out in each of us as we fiercely defend our cubs when needing our protection. We also both like to spend quality time with each our children and want each of our children to feel special.

Even though our parenting styles may vary slightly, my sister and I have both raised the most amazing and wonderful children and I can’t wait to spend next summer with them again.