Before having children, vacations with friends are pretty simple: You pick a destination and agree on accommodations and go. After kids are born, it becomes a much more complicated activity. Oftentimes, families have different outlooks about child-friendly vacation activities, finances, etc. Living with others is always an exercise in patience and compromise, no matter the circumstances or the length of time. Here are some tips for making that vacation with another family more fun.
Plan Ahead Agreeably
It’s important that the plans for where to go, where to stay, and what to do are things everyone can agree on. Nothing spoils a vacation like hearing, “I told you we should have gotten that condo down the beach.” Plan who pays for meals, for rental of equipment, etc., so there are no misunderstandings. Agree in advance on the big decisions, to minimize arguments down the road.
Kids Live In Peace = Happy Vacation
Do your kids get along with your friends’ kids? This can be critical. You don’t want to hear your child whine about the other children for the entire vacation. Also, check in on differing parenting styles and plan with the other parents how you will address them. For instance, if your child gets to have sugary snacks and doesn’t have to take a nap—but your friend’s child can’t eat sugar and has to nap—plan on meltdowns.
Unless you can afford a full-time maid and cook while on vacation, chores will need to be divided. Clothes still need to be cleaned off the floor. If it’s a long-term trip, dishes must be washed. Work out a plan. If you agree on who does the chores and when, it will diffuse a lot of tension. Nobody wants to spend vacation time feeling like Cinderella.
Compromise On Activities
I like to read, eat, and watch the waves on the beach. My best friend likes to hike, kayak, and visit museums. Sound familiar? Figure out what each family wants to do and then accept that not all activities will be done as a group. It’s best to discuss this before you even leave town, to avoid friction and miscommunications.
If finding time for a “date night” is difficult at home, perhaps one advantage of vacationing with another family is the opportunity to get those nights on vacation. You and your spouse can watch all the kids one evening while your friends go out, and you can go out the next night. That way, all partners get some kid-free time.