Planning a road trip or vacation with your family, or blended family?
Giving some focused thought now will make for happier trails and pay off for everyone, starting with YOU!
Perhaps nowhere is this more guaranteed than when traveling or vacationing with blended families. More often than not we find families not of the traditional 50’s or 60’s model of two original parent partners and their children. These days it's common to find a variety of family compositions, and multi-generations, all contributing to the changing face of our ideas of 'family.'
If you plan for it, vacations or outings with a blend of families, friends and generations can provide an interesting 'neutral ground' to create an opportunity for a more satisfying, fun holiday adventure.
Where to Begin?
Ask, Then Together, Make Some Good Decisions.
In a phrase, ASK all parties what is most important to them for a happy, peaceful and pleasing holiday. That would include both activities as well as the actual environment around them. For instance, if one set of family members are more ‘visiting’-oriented and the other is more ‘doing’-oriented, a balancing act is called for.
People who have a need for speed will be unhappy lounging about, and vice-versa. The phrase ‘something for everyone’ is what we’re ideally looking to create.
Rules of the Road….And Home Away From Home
Next, consider when travelling to others’ homes or vacation arrangements that it's crucial to decide upon some ground rules and boundaries that will both create and maintain respect between partners, children and extended family members.
Each adult, child and family is unique, so consciously consider that they may have wildly different expectations of 'house rules' as well as disciplinary ones. Asking and deciding upon these issues together, in advance, increases the likelihood that a happy vacation will unfold. And you may even find yourself invited back!
A Little Awkwardness Might Pay Off, Big-Time
It may not be comfortable to ask a new partner or in-law to talk with you about things like defining an agreement on how to respond to broken house rules, but it'll feel a lot more uncomfortable if it happens without having had any clarity between you to begin with! How surly moods, unhappiness, power play struggles and misdeeds are handled, punished or even remarked upon will be noticed and perhaps cause family members to 'take sides' (or be accused of it) by children and adults alike. Avoid the inevitable fall-out and needless mis-communication by talking it out now.
Tap on the Truth to Find Courage & Self-Compassion
Tap with the simple truth, getting more and more specific on where the real problem lies. It might sound something like this:
Even though just the idea of this conversation makes me feel awkward… Even though I am worried about how they’re going to receive this conversation on boundaries… Even though I don’t want my partner to take offense…Even though my new sister-in-law may think I am being silly… Even though Stan’s kids really don’t get me, and I am afraid to say ‘no’ to them…
Tapping does most of the hard work for us – it helps us find clarity, and quickly neutralizes our emotional overwhelm. Now you can see where your discomfort is really coming from, and where you might need to tap before your conversation. The ability to have a clearer, more grounded conversation goes a long way towards finding resolution and relief on all the unspoken worries and doubts.
Try some surrogate Tapping on your partner or in-law, and watch what happens! I am continually surprised by the change in behaviors and perspectives of those I’m worried about. My favorite protocol for that is the one EFT-Master Gwyneth Moss taught me: Talk About…Talk To, and finally, Talk AS. (And don’t forget to de-role, coming back to your lovely, compassionately truthful self!)
Okay! Back to the issues at hand.
Here’s a handy list of some subjects you might want to consider in your conversation with your partner or other involved family before the trip:
Consider talking about very specific things like...
- How will broken rules be handled, and by whom?
- What are the absolute 'deal-breakers' and how will we handle those immediately, even if all parties aren't present?
- Are there different ground rules with respect to age? How will those be clearly expressed, and when? By whom?
- Will there be time set aside for spending time in smaller groups versus the larger group, or some single family outings vs. the group of families?
- Is there agreement on how everyone will address the adults and their roles in the group, for instance, a new partner, an ex-partner, absent parent, a casual date, a step-grandmother, or a nanny?
- Is there an expectation that different activities to suit different tastes will be honored, with room for everyone to choose their preferences?
- Is there a plan to spend adults-only time in the itinerary, so that everyone gets a sense of 'vacation?'
- Is there an expectation that labor will be shared? Chores like cooking, clean-up, driving, shopping, laundry or childcare? Is there or can there be a role for everyone to pitch in?
- Is there an expectation that parents will be supported by their partners, in-laws, or exes when talking to or delivering consequences to their children?
- Is there agreement on how children that are not yours will be spoken to or disciplined, in their parents' absence?
- Are absent parents on-board with your trip plans and decisions?
- Are there expectations about kids calling home to absent parents or friends?
- Have you talked about any limitations to technology, games, phone use, or social media posting during the holiday?
- Are there limitations on the amounts/costs of activities, purchases or souvenirs in your vacation plans (and how will you handle the inevitable constant requests for things that are not in your plans!)?
And When All Else Fails...
Consider one more agreement with your traveling partner – can you agree to 'fix' the inevitable troubles and plans gone awry when they arise, instead of letting them build up or fester? Consider the old adage of 'not letting the sun go down' on hurts, slights, broken rule and disappointments. No one wants to drag a grudge cross-country!
One More, for the Road…
Consider documenting your vacation, together, while on the road. It’s something fun to do, it keeps people present and focused on the unfolding adventure, and prevents overwhelm and ‘vacation amnesia’ from cramming so much activity and expectation into a small timeframe.
You can go old-school, with paper and photos, travel brochures and journal entries. Or make it modern, using the new retro polaroid cameras or cell phone cameras with interesting digital effects. Interview one another with a voice recording app. Consider mini-movies of adventures, meals and events. Everyone can have a hand in making the vacation ‘album’ or ‘movie’ to document their favorite (or even the worst!) parts for later laughter and nostalgia.
Either way, it helps reinforce the memories you're creating together and anchors them in for years to come. Trust me, the times with our kids goes by so fast, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it.
And you can feel assured there will be many more good times ahead to record, because you did take the time to consciously ask and decide on good ground rules for a great vacation!
May your Tapping be happy and helpful! Happy trails,
Jondi Whitis, MTOT
Jondi's passion is teaching everyone how to access the creative power of Tapping to create better lives for everyone. As coFounder of TappingStar, she believes we can change the world by teaching our children how to take care of themselves.
Join her to learn more about using Creative Tapping Techniques, compassionate truth-telling and a greater understanding of children’s emotional wisdom; then help them weather and triumph over the everyday stresses, obstacles, pains and fears, paving the way for a bright future. Visit Jondi's full AAMET profile here.