We are just back from a short family-friends ski trip that brought amazing feeling of energy and family bonding. We all loved the feeling and we did not want to go back to regular routines. On the way back I realized it is the 3rd year we are doing 3-4 days early spring ski trip as a family. We loved it so much the first time that I wanted it could become one of our family traditions. And so it becomes.
Steven Covey in “7 Habits of highly effective families” writes a lot about power of family traditions to build family connections and nurture relationships (sharpening the saw activities). He refers to family dinners, activities with family and friends and special vacations as relationship building and critical to develop family spirit.
At the same time I often hear the opposite from the circle of mothers that I know “going on a short trip is such a hassle: packing, unpacking is getting you more tired than you were before. I’d rather focus on big and long summer/winter vacations”
I want to share few tips on how to make the short (3-5 days) family trip more enjoyable and even relaxing.
- Plan it. Most of our vacations (short and long) are part of annual family plan and each has a role. Early spring ski time is a moment to escape from heated work/school routines back into the winter and challenge ourselves with snow activities. Its final times for fireplaces and long hot and rich winterfood dinners before summer will come.
- If you go together with friends or family, think ahead whether your rhythms and activities are coherent and would you be able to enjoy the time together. This is especially important if families have young children who have different sleeping/eating routines vs adults. I must admit that with some of our friends I would rather plan an evening or day together than go for short vacation – if you can’t really do activities together or at least enjoy the dinner – it is better to plan something else which all could enjoy.
- Go to the place that is familiar to you. We try to explore new places in the longer vacations and also day-trips, while when we go for a short family vacation (especially if we have a few families going together) I prefer to understand beforehand how logistics will work. It’s not the time to explore new things, for us it’s the time to enjoy our family, enjoy time with friends and I would try to minimize logistics as much as I can.
- Understand expectations early. Talk about expectations when you go (what are you most looking forward to, what you absolutely want to do and what are optional activities). Try to do at least the “musts” for all your family members and create place for the “most looking forward to” early on. Talking about vacation helps to create positive energy too and anticipation is learned to be happiness booster as S. Lyubomirsky writes in “The how of happiness: a new approach to getting the life you want”.
- Create routines that help to build “togetherness” and enjoy each other. We try to go to a place where kitchen and living area is big enough to allow time together. What we love doing is cooking dinners together (sometimes dividing dinner responsibilities by families and evenings). Spending long dinner hours at the table with aperos, main course and dessert while using the time in-between for table games, quizzes and reflections of the day. We do evening shows when there are enough children and we do “slow” reading and playing when we are just us. During the day we may have different activities and rhythms but evenings are long, warm with the fire and spent together.
Last one, our discovery from this trip. We finally managed to have the time for two during this trip as well. Thinking about time for two ahead of trip and finding few childcare solutions options early on helped to carve a couple of hours for exploring the mountains and black slope skiing without kids. And it made this family time unique and unforgettable.
Now, back to daily routines, but with a wonderful still fresh feeling of being relaxed, challenged and loved.