Stop. Step back and breathe. Yes, I know you want to see and do it all, and when will you have a chance again? You have a point there. But no one is going to see or appreciate anything if the stress level of the schedule is high and your kids are melting down because they've had no downtime in two weeks. Better to match the scheduling and activity level to your kids developmental age than take a "vacation" nobody is actually enjoying.
As you plan your family vacation, consider your kids ages and personalities. Plan for what the youngest in the family can really and truly handle. Then back off one step further. Yes, that's right. It might seem a little unfair to your older kids, but when their little brother or sister has a major meltdown because they are overtired and overstimulated, it affects everyone's day. Fair is relative and consideration of the big picture counts for a lot.
As your kids get older, you can do the longer car trips and longer museum visits - and engage them in the planning, too. Having influence into your vacation days can help your older kids feel more committed to the trip, and may help them enjoy it more. But when you have younger kids, don't even think about trying to do more than they can handle.
Keep your vacations focused. Grand plans are, yes, grand - but can quickly become too much. Is it really possible to see and enjoy the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley in two days? And then on to other national parks? Will you really be appreciating what you see or just checking off that you saw it and getting back in the car. More significantly, what will you miss at each place by running through so quickly?
Whether your vacation is a driving vacation or renting a cottage on a lake or any number of possibilities, add time to whatever amount of time you think you need at any given location or attraction. This is vacation, after all, and why rush? Give yourself and your family to really enjoy several things rather than see and not appreciate many more things.
Family vacations create wonderful memories. Just make sure those memories (and resulting photo albums!) are of true relaxation and fun, not a stressed out family trying to see too much. ?
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