Bend Oregon Marriage Counselor Says: “If you want to reduce stress on your family vacation, create a Family Vacation Plan!”

July 11, 2013 by

Foster Cline of Parenting with Love and Logic  fame liked to ask parents this question, “do you know how you ruin a really good vacation?" Pausing for a beat he would answer, “you bring your kids!” Though seeming to implicate the kids, his message really has more to do with the parent’s lack of setting limits and planning. This can lead to needing a vacation from your vacation. Taking care of all of the children’s wants, wishes and possible conflicts leads to having no time for your relationship. Often vacations are with extended family— parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, etc. Add some friends to the mix and emotions may rise. Everyone has their own thoughts and ideas about what they want while on the vacation. This often is a recipe for negative feelings, grudges and conflict.

So what can you do to create a more enjoyable family vacation? This Bend Oregon Marriage Counselor says: “be proactive and create a vacation plan”.  I imagine some of you are saying, “we have a plan”. My experience and those of many of my clients suggest that often the plan is to general or it’s not a family plan—it’s your plan. A vague plan often invites trouble due to the variety of expectations and competing ideas clashing during the vacation. Planning only for yourself and not taking others into consideration invites frustration from other members of the family, especially your spouse.

To vastly increase the odds of success ask your spouse first. What is it you both want from your vacation? Some alone time for the two of  you? A hike or walk along the beach or lake? A romantic dinner? Then ask the children what they want to do on the vacation. Include them in the dialogue to schedule the timing of when they can expect get some of what they want. Next have a conversation with your extended family. What do they want? Do they have expectations? What are they? After you gather the information prioritize with your partner about what is important for your vacation. Then create a tentative schedule of events that includes everyone’s top priorities and communicate this to them. If someone has a frustration with what’s been scheduled you and your partner can decide to change the schedule or simply hear their feelings and let them know why you feel you need to stick to your plan because of someone else’s desires.

This Bend Marriage Counselor says: The trick is to be inclusive while at the same time setting limits so that everyone gets something out of the vacation. This includes time for your own relationship. When we all get something we want we are generally happier and more cooperative than when we don’t get anything we want or the vacation turns into a battle of competing agendas. May you create a great vacation!

To learn more about how to dialogue with your partner to work through power struggles, consider working with a certified Imago Relationship Counselor. Contact Tim Higdon MS LPC to hear more!