Fun family holiday ideas

Planning a family holiday poses some interesting challenges. Your four-year-old might be delighted to spend three days exploring the wonders of a tacky Santa's Grotto, whereas you develop a migraine after a couple of hours. You may relish the thought of spending a day at an art museum; your child would last an hour before collapsing in a puddle of boredom.

Here are some family holiday ideas that can make the trip more enjoyable for both generations:

  • Break up the day Remember that children are often most excited by simple and familiar pleasures. Spend two hours playing miniature golf if that's something your child likes, even if there's a similar course close to your home. Build a small sandcastle with a plastic bucket and shovel. No need to focus on elaborate adventures.

  • If you do take sightseeing trips Keep them short. A two-hour cruise on a harbour will be far more interesting to a young child than an all-day bus tour.

  • Budget for time apart Have your hotel arrange for a babysitter for an evening or two so that you can get some adults-only time. Don't feel that you have to do something exotic or dramatic; sometimes what you really need is a few quiet hours.

  • Keep your schedule loose Young children operate on their own time schedules. If your child's cranky in the afternoon, be willing to scrap your pre-arranged plans so that he (and perhaps you) can take a nap.

  • Travel when the kids are tired This varies from child to child. Some young children can be plopped down in a car or an aeroplane at 6 am and stay asleep until 9 am. Others wake up instantly. You may find that the best time for driving is during an afternoon nap – your child's, not yours!

  • Try staying in one location for the whole break. This reduces the number of new things that your child has to adapt to, which lowers your stress level as well.

  • Allow lots of extra time at airports These days, travelling by air can make a family trip very stressful, especially for young children. The frustration of a missed connection increases exponentially with every child who's with you.

  • Monitor your own emotions and attitude. Our children reflect our feelings in their own emotions. If we become upset, they'll become upset. If we're laid back in the face of a problem, they're more likely to handle things the same way.

Try to follow these tips without stressing too much on creating a perfect experience for all. Some days will be better for you and others better for your child.

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