Everybody is on vacation, but ages, interests and energy levels may vary between the 6-year-old and her grandfather. How can you maximize the together time, but not leave anybody dragging or bored. And how much togetherness is enough?
Be Upfront Before the Trip
Why are you taking this trip? Is the purpose to spend quality time as a family without the distractions of everyday life at home? Or is it to see new places? How active would everyone like to be? What are everyone’s expectations, and how can they all fit into one vacation? Make sure everyone understands each other’s hopes for the trip, and that everyone is willing to compromise a little if they don’t all match.
Plan an Itinerary With Everyone in Mind
Maybe you’ve always wanted to see the Parthenon and your mother dreams of floating through Venice in a gondola. But are those the best places to spend that three-generation trip of a lifetime? Maybe, but maybe not. Both places require a lot of walking: Are everyone’s legs up to it? Remember that little legs have to take twice as many steps to keep up, and older knees tend to creak after a certain age. Be realistic.
It’s Okay to Go Separate Ways
In fact, unless you’re a family used to spending a lot of time in close proximity, it’s probably a good idea. Maybe grandparents would love to spend a couple of hours relaxing on a park bench watching the kids play in a park, feed the ducks or splash in a wading pool while you hit that museum. But make sure everyone knows where everyone else is and when you can expect to get together again.
Don’t Expect Grandparents to Babysit
At least not all the time, and unless they actively want to. That may be why they joined in this adventure, to spend relaxed time with grandkids they don’t see often. But even that doesn’t mean 24/7, and it doesn’t mean parents should take this for granted. Everyone needs to be honest about this, including the kids. Ask them (privately, please) exactly what they think of this idea. With thoughts of forbidden sweets and 100 percent spoiling in mind, they are likely to be fine with it, but do ask.
You Don’t Need to Eat Every Meal Together
Parents may want to take in a little nightlife on their own, a good time for kids and grandparents to eat earlier, perhaps while parents have an aperitif snack before going on. Just as likely, grandparents may also wish to have a quiet dinner for two in a new locale. If an adults-only dinner is on anyone’s agenda, say so. This is everyone’s vacation.
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