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Why Those Tantrums and Crying Are Worth It During Family Vacation
  • When it comes to going on family vacations, the positive benefits that it offers to the whole household outweigh the negative. Sure, one may argue that traveling with the kids can bring unwanted stress, but as it turns out, our brain can turn even the most stressful vacations into memorable ones.

    That’s because we have “two selves,” the ‘experiencing self’ and ‘remembered self,’ according to Dr. Omar Sultan Haque, a Harvard University psychiatrist and social scientist, in an interview with The New York Times.

    “In the midst of vacation stresses, we may be stressed and annoyed by family and children and the indignities of bureaucratic travel, but the remembered self easily turns nausea into nostalgia,” Haque says.

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    That means that even if we experience some challenges regarding planning and while on the trip itself, what stays in our mind are treasured memories. “We tend to think of these kinds of experiences on the pleasure/pain level, but really, giving a child the gift of a vacation is more on the meaning/moral plane,” Dr. Haque says.

    Experts agree that spending on vacations is more meaningful than expenditures for material things. “Family holidays are valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterward in their memory,” says psychologist and bestselling author Oliver James in an interview with The Telegraph.

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    Traveling also brings the whole family closer. “It’s all about talking nonsense with your parents, sharing an ice cream and moments of time in which your interests are genuinely taken into account,” adds James.


    With the announcement of the 2019 Philippine Holidays, now is the best time to plan future trips. But be forewarned: a spontaneous vacation can be a significant stressor for children, especially little ones: “Kids like sameness, security, and feeling safe,” according to Dr. Suanne Kowal-Connelly, speaking to The Times.  “Sometimes trips feel rushed and scary. The plane or car is claustrophobic, parents are typically exhausted and cranky, and the accommodations are beautiful, but they aren’t home.”

    The key is to plan ahead and plan well. Here are tips from real moms and experts on how to survive a trip with young kids.

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    Choose a flight that coincides with your child’s waking hours.

    If you’re going by plane, book a flight that is more in tune with your kids’ biological clocks, suggests Kowal-Connely. “A red eye might be cheaper, but is it worth the chaos of a tired toddler?” (Click here for an estimate of regular fares to popular destinations in the country.)

    Prepare in -flight and -car entertainment.

    When asked for survival tips, many of our readers and members of our Smart Parenting Village Facebook group said they pack their kids’ favorite toys, snacks, and even pre-downloaded video games to distract them from the long ride. You can also plan games that the whole family will enjoy, and for your kids to know that you have their undivided attention. Try the ‘I spy’ game — one mom from our Village swears that her kids never get tired of it.

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    Set some ground rules.

    If you’re going to limit your kids’ screen time while on vacation, remember to discuss this before the trip begins so they’ll know what to expect. And remember to be a good example: instead of scrolling on your phone, decompress and have fun with the kids!

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    Remember to take photos!

    A study from the Yale School of Management found that taking photos, especially during a holiday, increases enjoyment and engagement of whatever it is that you’re currently doing. But don’t push for too many posed photos — you might end up annoying your kids. Take candid shots instead — these are far more interesting than staged shots, plus, it tells a story that you can remember fondly!

    Consider your kids when planning your itinerary.

     Your kids’ energies are entirely different than yours, so keep this mind when planning activities for the day. Too many activities can make children anxious and edgy and can lead to temper tantrums.

    Celebrity mom Kelly Misa offers this tip: Work around your baby’s sleeping and eating schedule. If you want to go to museums, just spend half the day there so that it won’t be boring for your child. “Then, for the rest of the day, spend time in a park or zoo, a place where your child can enjoy,” she says.

    Leave room in a day for unplanned hours.

    Allow yourself to breathe. Just because your time is limited when you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that you need to pack the whole day with activities. “Create space for spontaneity, exploration of new surroundings, and improvisation with family and friends,” Dr. Haque advises.


    Set realistic expectations.

    You might be psyching yourself for the ‘best vacation ever’ but setting the bar too high might dampen your spirit because no trip is truly perfect. The weather might suddenly change, or the AirBnB you chose may not be as lovely as the pictures on the website. Your car may break down, or your kids might throw a tantrum.

    When the unexpected strikes, re-center and remember why you’re making this trip in the first place. You’re here to spend quality time with the family, and you want your kids to use the memories from this trip as their ‘happiness anchor.’ According to a recent study, memories of family vacations from a person’s childhood can get him through tough times.

    “Reflecting on our happiest memories of joyful time spent together as a family can be extremely powerful in bringing relief and respite when faced with the darker times that life can bring,” says John McDonald, director of the Family Holiday Association, which conducted the study.

    Got your own tips to surviving a trip with your kids? Tell us in the comments!

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