Some people dream of spending their summer vacations in sparkling water during the day and taking languorous walks on the beach in the evening. Others anticipate the sights and sounds of a city, with plenty of time to enjoy great restaurants and art. Whether they plan to go away or stay at home, most hope for freedom from the “daily grind” and time for pleasure and relaxation.
I know I do. I love to get away from the ringing phones and the daily chores; I look forward to quiet times or an opportunity to spend quality time with the ones I love. I do discipline myself to put the electronic devices on hold and schedule an hour to check for any urgent messages.
Next: Five Tips to Beat Vacation Stress
The following questions and tips can help you get a handle on vacation stress.
1. Are you being realistic in your planning? Confer with fellow travelers in advance about what each expects in terms of activities and rest time, then plan accordingly. Children aren’t the only ones who need to unwind between stimulating activities – adults need to do so as well.
2. Have you planned “unscheduled time?” Unscheduled time gives family members a chance to kick back and just do what they want to for a little while. Alone time is also important for some. It’s an opportunity to build a deeper connection with oneself.
3. Have you discussed finances? Most vacations involve lots of choices to make in regards to spending money. Getting clear on your budget in advance and making children aware of spending guidelines can help reduce anxiety with this issue.
4. Are you communicating? Increased contact with family members during a vacation can bring conflict to the foreground. Someone may feel he is not getting to do what he really wants to do, while others need to learn to compromise or let another lead from time to time. Honest communication and sincere listening can result in real understanding of each other’s needs and solutions that bring more balance to the situation.
5. Bored in the car or plane? It’s a great time to share something you appreciate about each of your traveling companions. A simple activity you can do with your children is to take turns and have each person you’re traveling with share what they appreciate about someone from your group. Try to keep the tone of this activity fun but sincere. Sometimes it might be best for a parent to begin by sharing their genuine appreciation for one of the children so they can get a better feel for of the concept. This exercise can be fun and gives everyone a chance to express something positive about someone else that they may not have otherwise had an opportunity to share.
My summer vacation this year was spending time with my son’s family and his two-year-old daughter. We created unscheduled time to relax and appreciate each other and did activities geared for family fun. We went to the zoo, and prepped with water, food and other necessities for an outing with a toddler before we left. We agreed ahead of time that we don’t have to see every animal in the zoo and set up pre-scheduled break times to relax on the grass under the shade trees. We promised to communicate and speak up if anyone needed anything. We also used a fun technique called prepping the field environment.
Each person’s thoughts, attitudes and emotions emit energetic fields that affect the social field environment as we interact with each other. Research shows that we can help to precondition the field environment by sending love and positive energy to gatherings before we go. At HeartMath, we call this “prepping the field environment.”
We stayed at the zoo for about three hours. I most enjoyed perceiving the experience through a two-year-old’s eyes and delighting in the spurts of elated joy she radiated from the wonderment of her day. I felt that prepping the field environment helped to enrich that experience for me.
Join the Facebook page HeartMath My Kids! A game from Teaching Children to Love e-book is posted every other Friday.
Teaching Children to Love: 80 Games and Fun Activities for Raising Balanced Children in Unbalanced Times by Doc Childre is an excellent resource for parents. This e-book is chock-full of activities that support heart-based values like gratitude and appreciation.
What are your summer vacation plans? I would love to hear about them.