CHILDREN (AGES 0 - 12)
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Connecting with kids will be one of the most important things you do as a parent. Your children will remember a lot of things about their childhood, but what will stick with them the most are the moments you played together, the vacations you took, and the connection they felt as you explored the world side by side. At a time when everyone seems to be more adapted to looking at a screen then they are at each other, it’s vital to learn how to connect with your kids, especially if you’re heading out on a family vacation. Use these eight tips for connecting with kids so that your next adventure is one they’ll fondly remember forever.
1. Let Them Be the Boss
Allow your kids to help you make decisions about what you do, where you go, and how you’ll spend your time on vacation. While you might not allow them to make decisions about your destination, they can definitely help you plan activities throughout your trip. Giving them the freedom to help plan your family vacation will improve your connection from the get go.
Say yes to things you wouldn’t normally do or things you wouldn’t normally let them do. Stay up late, have dessert for breakfast, splash around in the pool, and participate in activities you’d normally sit out on. Giving them more freedom and allowing yourself the same is a great way to connect with your kids because everyone will be more relaxed and in a good mood.
Connecting with kids is so much easier when you play the day away! Whether they are young or old, kids love to play and they really love it when their parents get involved. Play cards on a lazy afternoon, build sand castles, participate in a game of beach or pool volleyball, play “I spy” in transit to activities, or simply horse around in your hotel room. However you decide to play, it is sure to make you feel closer to one another.
Try something new that no one in the family has done before. This might mean snorkeling in the ocean, playing a round of golf, trying a new food that is native to your destination, or experiencing a historical sight together. Hopefully your family vacation is packed with unique experiences that make figuring out how to connect with your kids easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Share the experiences with family and friends! Sometimes connecting with kids means bringing other kids along, and while that does mean a bit more planning, it will only add to everyone’s enjoyment. Invite grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, family friends, or even just a schoolmate. When there are other people around, your kids might be more willing to try new things that they might shrug off if it’s just mom and dad making suggestions. When they have more fun, you will too, and the bond you create will be even tighter.
If you have more than one child, taking time to plan individual dates with each of them is a great way to boost your connection on a family vacation. This might mean that each parent takes one child for a “special” outing and then you swap, or you could have each child pick a special activity the whole family does together. Some one on one time is a sure way to heighten your connection, but if it isn’t possible, giving them the power to choose will always help.
Find time to just live in the moment. We all tend to be go, go, go all the time, but a vacation brings about the perfect opportunity to stop and smell the roses, literally. Whether it is getting in a little extra snuggle in the morning, sitting on the beach and watching the sunset together, allowing them five more minutes of pool time, or not rushing them to get out the door, take advantage of a more relaxed routine. You’ll all feel appreciative of the opportunity to just slow down, building the bond between you and your kids.
Let it go! As parents, we tend to always be responsible disciplinarians, who forget how to let loose at times, but when you’re on a family vacation, you don’t have to be. Get silly. Do embarrassing things. Laugh out loud. Take the selfie. When your kids see you having a good time, they’ll follow suit, and there is no better way for them to feel more connected to you than when you’re just being a kid right along with them.
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