Reaping the benefits and avoiding the pitfalls to the traditional extended family camp.
Have you ever watched your parents or the in-laws help the kids knot a tyre to a tree? How about build balsa wood boats bound for sea? It’s amazing some of the ideas that spring from the minds of our family elders, when we give them half a chance. Perhaps it’s perspective gained over the years, or maybe they’re just drawing from their own childhood experiences when kids could roam from breakfast till dark, just before tea.
No matter the reason, few kids enjoy those kind of freedoms these days so it’s particularly special when an extended family member shows us there’s another way.
Spending time with different generations enriches your holidays in unexpected ways, instilling traditions that can resonate for decades, but, as with anything worthwhile, a little strategy and a bit give and take go a long way. Here’s how it’s done.
Sharing the load
One of the key benefits of travelling with extended family is the capacity to share the load. If everyone pitches in on the tasks at hand, everyone has the potential to enjoy a break; planning ahead (even if just loosely) will minimise the risk of too much falling on person’s shoulders.
These benefits are particularly noticeable when it comes to taking care of the kids, especially when it comes time to setting up camp.
But it’s not only adults who can lend a hand in keeping the tin-lids occupied. Often, kids love the company of other kids. So when cousins and friends get together, it can be a real blast if all things are going well. Especially if the older ones embrace a leadership role. Of course, it isn’t always smooth sailing but you’d be surprised at how providing slightly more mature company for little ones can.
A matter of respect
Life has no rule book so it’s natural for households to run in different ways. Therefore, key issues such as bedtimes, meals, levels of supervision can become points of angst when others’ decisions impact how your family runs when you’re away. Trust, communication, knowing your limits while keeping an open mind can pour oil on the inevitable friction. What’s important to you may not matter to others and vice-versa but everyone’s here to have a good time. Relaxing or changing routines and acknowledging others’ values can head off many issues on the fly, but some things, such as discipline approaches, how much money families are willing to spend on activities, and what’s an appropriate time to knock on gran’s door may be worth discussing early on.
Sharing the decisions
Organising activities for others takes a lot of effort and it can be upsetting if not everyone values your contributions or agrees. Dealing with grumbles is normal but escalating situations can really get in the way of enjoying yourself, so consider if it is worth wreaking your holiday before taking aim. Sharing the decision-making over the course of the trip can lessen the likelihood of these issues blowing out. As will providing everyone a bit of space to regroup, or even to privately blow off steam.
Allowing others to take the reins can be tricky for some, but give it half a chance and you may even relish the break. And who knows, the experience you didn’t expect to enjoy might end up being the highlight of your trip.
Whenever you’re travelling with a large crew, especially in cases where ages vary greatly, it’s natural abilities and level of experiences will vary. If you’re on tour, for example, choosing a less arduous route, adjusting distances the between camps or choosing camps with greater facilities can help to ensure everyone is able to enjoy their holiday at a relaxing pace. By taking others’ needs into account your shared holiday may look different to how you might plan it if you were to go it alone but in the end isn’t that point of inviting others in?
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