How to increase family bonding during a vacation

Planning a family vacation is not easy, yet it is a perfect way for family bonding. Here are some tips to help you make the most of it

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I am paraphrasing an observation on travel attributed to Dagobert D.Runes, he said ‘People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the people they ignore at home.’ Though the author may have had the general population that one is part of in mind, it holds good even for close family members. Thus holidays become that moment to ‘re-ignite the spark’ and ‘re-establish’ relationships with others and the self.

Holidaying with your family [spouse and children] and parents provides a break from the stage on which you all relate to each other.

The varying ages in the group is a challenge as needs differ and have to be catered to. Not to mention the dynamics of relationships between your spouse and parents, children and your parents and so on. Given the challenges one would do well to carry an open mind and a plan.

Take along books, games/toys

Sightseeing is one way of spending time together on holidays. Spending time with the family could also involve indolently reading a book or solving puzzles or playing cards or a board games. Board games are a good way for everyone to be together. Another reason for getting these along is keeping your child engaged during the journey.

Try independence for a change

Get your children to participate in the holiday planning and then get them to pack their clothes and be responsible for their luggage. In fact if they are old enough they could also lend a hand to the grandparents with their packing. Such tasks provide children with opportunities for various kinds of decision making and planning which will benefit them in the long run. Get your children to read up about the place before the holiday. They could then serve as your informal tour guides for which you could give them some additional pocket money.

Record memories

Delegate the task of recording holidays to your children. Ensure it is not restricted to selfies and photos only. Get your children to write about what they experience through prose and poetry. If they are good at sketching, take along sketching material and let the kids loose. To ensure this happens, children have to be told of their responsibilities in advance and a time needs to be allocated for this during the holiday.

Avoid the normal

Memories are created when you do something new. Don’t let yourself or the rest of your entourage get sucked into the narrow confines of what the cellphone and other electronic gadgets provide. Question the impulse to use social media to update the world of your activities and the need to be briefed on what the world is up to. Even if the idea is to spend time by the pool or at the beach, avoid playing your favourite video game and instead initiate a conversation, people watch, read or just do nothing.

Let the grand kids and grandparents bond

If your children are old enough and the grandparents game, find activities that they can do together. This would give you and your spouse ‘alone time’ while the grandparents and grand kids enjoy each others company.

Carry snacks and basic first aid

Travelling does make one hungry and if you don't want your outings to be interrupted by frequent breaks for stopovers to eat then carry enough snacks for everyone. And make sure to take everyone's choices into consideration. Travel also gives ample scope for minor injuries. Young children and teenagers are prone to mini accidents so it is best to be prepared for such occasions. Also do ensure that they have had their tetanus shots.

Patience is key

Being a parent makes one used to plans being constantly changed and holidays are no exception. Mood swings and injuries don’t take a break either. Therefore keep your plans open ended and carry a large dose of patience with you. The key is for all to remember that this moment has been carved out specially for everyone. This can only be communicated successfully if you are patient and respond instead of reacting to situations.

Seneca said ‘Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.’ It not only does that, but gives ample scope to build on relationships taken for granted as you deal with the everyday. Taking care of the basic essentials gives you the freedom to spend quality time with those you love and care for.

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