3 Steps Towards A Great Family Vacation

This is a good time NOW.

I teach this stuff for a living. And this past week, Lisa and I took time to stop and say… this is a good time NOW. We only get our kids at home with us for a short time. Once the hustle and bustle of the early baby years go by, we are looking at ages 5 – 18/19 before they are off to college. That’s 14 years—728 weekends. That is NOT a lot of time. So if I only have this short time with them – I am going to get intentional about it.

We just got back from a family vacation. It was the best trip our family has ever taken together. Here is why I say that…

  1. We got intentional

It started last year when we got back from Spring Break and asked all of our kids to list pros and cons about the trip. We then asked them what they wanted to do in 2018 and brainstormed as a family. Lots of great suggestions. Lots of waaay out there suggestions. (Vinnie?—hmmm not sure we can go to another planet and fight aliens like the Power Rangers Space Patrol??%!!)—but I’ll add it to our list.

Once we had a shared purpose or vision for the trip, we got even more intentional. We started talking about our behaviors on our trip. I wonder how we can have the best trip ever? I wonder how everyone needs to show up? These conversations started about 8 weeks before the trip.

The first rule was NO PHONES. As a family of 7 with teenagers galore, Instagram can dominate our attention, Twitter gets lots of time, and seems like I would be an ogre if I dared bust up the energy of a “Snapchat streak”—heaven forbid. Taking a hard stance on “no phones” was bold. But you know what—it was also dumb. And not realistic. We quickly realized that we use our phones to take pictures. We use our phones to communicate quickly to someone at another end of the resort. We realized that we give our teens more freedom when they are able to check in with us quickly. So there was some changes going on. A give and take. And this was awesome. It helped set the stage for us to proclaim—the one thing we can do to behave on this trip is GIVE UP OUR OWN WAY. The compromise was agreed upon beforehand partly because Lisa and I had just demonstrated that we were willing to give up our own way too. And starting the intentional talk of our behavior, 8 weeks prior, gave our kids time to slowly digest the message of giving up their own way.


  1. We rooted for each other

The second thing we decided that would affect the outcome of our trip was our attitude. Rooting for each other—and being light hearted and fun was going to be necessary. Our family values are share, believe in yourself and each other, achieve, and behave. The answers to the test are simple: live our core values. You want to know the answer? Live our values. Any question that comes up- live the values. We intentionally discussed that having the answers to the test beforehand makes it easier to show up in alignment. Living our family values—not just saying them– would allow us to root for each other and have the best vacation ever.

For example, we shared 1 bathroom. And yet, there wasn’t one fight over a shower. There wasn’t banging on doors and yelling. We didn’t complain that there weren’t enough towels. Carly had to wash her hair in the sink one day (I’m still not sure why??) Maybe “patience” should be added as a value?? The point is, we all shared, we all rooted for each other and we behaved with the core values in mind.

  1. We got with the program

The last thing we agreed upon was having a catch phrase. This is a quick word we all know the meaning to—that if we are ever out of alignment—it can be spoken so everyone is on the same page quickly. Usually if we are not aligned, we say, “Get with the Program” meaning get alignment with the agreed upon plan. This trip, the kids wanted to use, “We are at the beach!” as in, “Seriously, can this be a big enough deal to fight about—I mean we are AT THE BEACH!”  literally and figuratively. I am proud to say I only had to use the code word twice. Which is half as much as the kids used it with me. I know I know… what was my problem? I honestly can’t tell you. I am just here to say that the rules had to apply to me too. Which is humbling. Which is awesome. Which leads to why do I think this was our best vacation ever?

We are creating safety in our family. Safety to show up and be who you are. You can own your own feelings here. It’s harder for me than Lisa—but I am getting better at letting my kids own their own feelings.

We are being vulnerable. We are sharing when and where we are wrong, and we are pursuing things with a passion and ability to fail. That is vulnerable to me. Letting my kids see my shame, my guilt, the errors in my ways. And in return they are being vulnerable with us. Saying what they feel, sharing when they think we are out of alignment and learning emotion regulation.

We are together. Going after a shared purpose. Even if it was just a family vacation. We rallied together. We rooted for each other. We laughed together. We loved together. We lived together.


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