Vacationing to see distant relatives is a summer must. Plus it helps the pocketbook a bit if you get to room with your relatives. Just remember, there are rules for staying with family while on vacation, for their comfort and yours.
One of the best parts about traveling during the summer are the trips you take to see your family. If you’re anything like my husband and I, visiting family is a necessity because we live 6+ hours away. So whether it is during the summer or for holidays, we are always traveling to see our families.
Not having to spend money on a hotel will help stretch your vacation budget, whereas doing so may seem like a waste when you have family members you can stay with comfortably for a few days.
Please notice the word “comfortably” there. Bringing two or more children along for the trips isn’t easy, but there are ways to make the best of it. Here are a few rules for staying with family while on vacation.
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Create Your Own Space
Although you aren’t paying rent or helping with the light and water bill, the best way for everyone to get along and be comfortable is if you and your family have their own space in your relative’s home. If that’s the basement, a spare bedroom, or even the bedroom of someone else who is willing to relocate, you really do need your own space.
This is not selfish. You are not trying to takeover. It’s a way to keep the peace and the level of stress low.
This is one of the things I look forward to the most when traveling back home, especially after having our twins. I love getting to see my family, but I love that we have our own designated space just as much. I know where the kids can play and where they can’t. If need be, I have systems in place around our house to keep them in or out of certain areas. I know where things are and how to access them immediately.
When you go and stay somewhere else, even in a hotel, you are no longer in your “controlled space”. Things can get stressful very quickly; don’t touch that, don’t jump on that, put that down before you break it, get out from under there! But if you can arrange with your relatives to have a designated space in thier home (even better if it is a familiar space), you can have a mini “controlled space” to house your kids, your things, and yourselves.
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Stick to your Routines
This tip is one of the harder ones to manage when staying with family while on vacation. Sticking to the routines you’ve established your kids.
When we go on vacation to visit family, of course everyone wants to spend time talking, playing games, building relationships, and just enjoying each other’s company. Although this is very important, making sure that your kids stick to their normal schedule is as well. When your kids are between the ages of zero and five, keeping their routine is key to keeping stress low and faces smiling. As they get older, you can be more lenient with bedtimes and routines. Being in a new environment will throw off your children’s schedule naturally. But when you completely alter their routine, it causes unnecessary stress.
The three routines you should stick to as best as you can are eating, nap time, and bed time. They will fight at first because they see that other family members are still awake and they want to be involved. You might even feel bad in the moment and consider letting them stay up for “a little longer”. DON’T. The moment you give in, you give your family and your kids an opportunity to completely wreck what you have spent weeks, months, and years establishing.
I know this sounds really harsh. But when you completely throw off their routine by allowing them to stay up or skip their naps, you will have to go through the same grueling process to re-establish everything you had in place. To be completely honest, disappointed relatives is NOTHING compared to the absolute meltdown of a toddler whose sleeping schedule is off. Visiting them is temporary. The sad faces will only last the length of a trip (from both the kids and the family members). Tell your relatives you love them, but your kids are going to bed.
Stick to your House Rules
This rule is the hardest one to manage when you’re staying with family while on vacation, especially if you’re staying with grandparents, aunts, and/or uncles.
Everyone in your family means well but remember, when you stay with family while on vacation, you’re entering into their daily lives and operations. They may do things, buy things, watch things, and eat things that you and your family wouldn’t.
For example, my twins don’t drink juice. They’ve only had one or two juice boxes and they’re almost 3. It’s not that juice is bad, but I want them to love water. I know that once I start giving them juice, it will be hard to take away. When we stayed with some relatives, my sister-in-law gave one of the twins a juice pouch when I wasn’t looking. She didn’t do it to be malicious, but that was her normal. I asked her not to give her anymore and she understood. The rest of the night however, that twin decided that she was going to find a way to get more juice, even if it meant drinking someone else’s.
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In no way am I saying to judge your family’s decisions. You are a guest in their home. However, don’t be afraid to stick to the rules that you’ve established in your home. Some family members will judge you and try to make you feel guilty for not allowing your kids to do certain things. Let them. Smile and Nod. Ignore it. These are YOUR children.
Set Boundaries and Share them with your Family
If you don’t want your twins to have sugar, then say so when you get there. Go to the grocery store before you arrive and buy the things you want them to have. If you only want them to have water, buy a case of water before you arrive.
If you’re faced with a relative that doesn’t respect your wishes, it’s up to you to determine what steps you need to take. That doesn’t mean be disrespectful or dismissive. Maybe a sit down conversation needs to happen between you. If that doesn’t work, then maybe staying at a hotel or with another relative in the area is a better option.
Do not completely alter and change the way you do things on a regular basis for the purpose of a visit. It’s temporary. After all is said and done, you’re back on the road, going home, and having to deal with the aftermath of whatever you let slide for a couple of days.
Visiting relatives is very important for your children. It helps to build relationships, gain wisdom and respect and provides them with a sense of heritage. But remember that it’s exactly that; a visit.
Allyson A. Robinson is a wife, mommy of twins, and international educator. As a transformational speaker and author, she offers a contemporary and relatable view of purpose, mommyhood, and uniqueness, endearing her to audiences nationwide. Her new book “How to Keep Your Baby (and Yourself) Alive When All Your Pets Have Died” debunks the myths of life after delivery for new and expecting mothers and offers a refreshing message: You’re Not Alone. Connect with Allyson at HeyGirlIntl.com and on Instagramand Twitter..