This guest post is courtesy of SOSsitter.ca!
How to win at the intergenerational vacation game.
What’s that old saying? “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.” ― John Lydgate. Truer words were never spoken, particularly when it comes to intergenerational family vacations.
Family getaways are the norm these days, but does your family unit include more than parents and kids? Mine does, so it’s always an interesting challenge to plan and execute a vacation that works for everyone, and keeping Mr. Lydgate’s words in mind, I aim for ‘pretty good’ rather than ‘perfection’.
If you are planning a trip Travelling with Grandma, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Include EVERYONE in deciding where to go
A unilateral decree from you will not be appreciated by your parents or your inlaws. Do your research and make a short list of options for the rest of the family to look over. Everyone will have an opinion, so don’t make the list too long!
- Proximity to health resources (if that’s an issue)
- How physically taxing will the trip be, in terms of weather and terrain? A hiking holiday in the rainforest might not be the best choice if Mom just had a hip replacement.
- A little bit of fun for everyone. Disneyworld is great but if your parents really hate it, make sure that it’s combined with something else in the vicinity that they will enjoy. And a cruise up the Rhine would enthrall most grandparents. The kids however might mutiny. Find a balance for both worlds.
Make sure that the trip isn’t making work for someone
If you want to spend time without the kids, don’t assume Grandma is there to pick up the slack. She’s on vacation too. To that end, a city with great nightlife may not be the ticket, but an all-inclusive beach resort with a kids club could very well satisfy everyone.
Accommodations need to be big enough so that you’re not on top of one another and privacy is afforded to those who want it, but you’re still together. In my case, Mom is a snorer, so she is always entitled to her own room. Spaces with several rooms and cooking facilities are a good idea with kids so look for accommodations designed to take on families. But don’t expect Grandpa to make his famous pierogies!
You’re not joined at the hip
Remember that trip activities don’t ALWAYS have to be group activities. You can plan some parts of it where you go your separate ways for a day. When I started planning our trip to Europe to visit with family, including a few days in Paris, I planned that Mom would get time to go to the galleries she is interested in while I took the kiddo to EuroDisney for two days. A little break from one another can be a good thing too, particularly for those who aren’t used to spending a lot of time with their WHOLE family.
Have a few rules, but not too many
The single biggest issue with intergenerational activities is who is parenting whom? Be clear with your parents / in laws that you are the parent, and your word is final. That said, be prepared for the grandparents to spoil the kids too. There has to be flexibility for the fun to kick in. There will be some aspects that go off the rails: bad weather, cranky kids, lost bags… Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine that you are on a beach with a book and an umbrella drink, in the days before kids.
Have some ideas of what you’re going to do but don’t overschedule and create more stress. It’s vacation, not a week at the office, with your family in tow.
At the end of the day, an intergenerational trip is a great way to spend more time with family members who perhaps don’t get to interact at this level all the time—particularly if you live far apart. So again, breathe deeply, remember the goal of ‘fun’ and go have some!
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