Summer months are usually comprised of family vacations. Whether it be a long flight, road trip or a trip to the park, traveling with kids can sometimes feel like the farthest thing from a relaxing vacation. Here are three tips which will not only make your vacation more enjoyable and relaxing for you, but will also help your child appreciate your efforts and their experiences throughout the summer months. 1. TRAVEL LIGHT As you begin to pack you think to yourself, what will my kiddo need? Security blanket. iPad. Supply of favorite snacks. Favorite Book. Crayons. Sketch Book. PlayDoh. Favorite game… They all seem like great ideas until you have two huge suitcases full of “favorites” and no clothes. A comfort item or two may be needed for a child, whether they be 3 or 13. However, it is unrealistic and unnecessary to take your child’s whole room. Flexibility and grit are two great characteristics which are learned through slightly uncomfortable situations. Let’s guide our kids to enjoy their vacations by learning to persevere through new experiences.
2. HAVE NO FEAR I say this in the most loving of ways… Kids are somewhat like puppies. They need food, love and attention. They also pick up on fear. If you are scared of roller coasters, the ocean, heights, flight turbulence (or even puppies!), they will notice and in turn emulate your fear. Most of our fears are learned behaviors, and some of our fears are even irrational.
While it may be quite a challenge to eliminate our own fears, we can take steps so our kids do not acquire our same learned behaviors. For example, I do not know how to swim, so I encourage my own kiddo to hang with my husband in pools so he could learn to love the water. Do keep in mind some kids are naturally more fearless or more cautious than others. Despite that, let’s encourage our kids to build their own stories, instead of copying ours.
3. TEACHABLE MOMENTS As an educator I will be the first to say much learning takes place outside of a classroom. Background experiences become the foundation to the knowledge of information learned in school. As adults we take for granted what we know and forget how we learned it. However, you do not have to be a teacher or home instructor to teach your child something new each day.
For example, when down the shore (for the Jersey folks), talk about the ocean, high tide and low tide. When in another country, expose kids to different foods, music, and dancing. When in your hometown park, talk about bugs you see or visit landmarks you may take for granted.
Opportunities for learning are everywhere! A trip overseas or to an expensive amusement park are not the only places learning can take place during the summer months. The most important thing is to spend quality time with your kids and connect with them face-to-face or through genuine play. It is through learning which we grow. May you assist your child in learning and growing enough to inspire others.
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a former teacher, school counselor and licensed associate counselor serving children and families in the northern New Jersey area. To learn more visit www.freetobemindful.com.