You’ve been waiting all year for this week and now it’s almost here - that wonderful bonding time with your family to relax and enjoy a few days off from the regular routine. The family vacation can either be refreshing for you and your children or leave nightmares of a 10-hour car ride filled with complaining and arguing. How does the typical homeschooling family prepare to enjoy this treasured time together? The following few ideas may help your family get organized:
- Start planning. If you haven't planned your summer vacation yet, it's not too late. Ask everyone what they would like to do during their vacation, then pray and pick an affordable destination. Once you have decided, include your children in the preparation by having them study maps and highlight your route. The trip will feel more like their vacation as they research books, web sites, and brochures to locate attractions you might want to see or stops you will need to take.
- Assign jobs. Designate the front seat passenger to be the navigator. Some teenage children love to assume this responsibility. Use current maps and stack them in the order they will be used. You can attach them to the car's visor with a large clip or rubber band to be ready to use during the trip. Choose a child to clean the windows and dump the trash when you stop to fill up for gas. Assign the "buddy system"; between an older and younger child during rest stops – no one gets left behind!
- Multi-task your cooler. Pack a cooler with fun snacks for children. Juice boxes, string cheese, fruit snacks and crackers are some favorites. For an easy, no-mess healthy snack, punch a straw through the foil top of yogurt. Not only is a cooler useful for holding snacks, it can also serve as a table for coloring or playing games. The cooler can also be used to keep the peace. If children begin fussing over personal space, try setting up a natural boundary by putting the cooler between them.
- Organize objects. Children tend to lose shoes, toys, and other objects in the car. Save yourself the trouble of digging under the seats to find these items when it is time to stop. Bring along a backpack for each child or pack a large empty tote bag for their shoes and coats. If you have room for each child's favorite pillow, have them pack their pajamas inside the pillow case.
- Check your list. Don't forget the extra batteries for cameras, portable music players, and other electronic toys. Include a first-aid kit, sewing kit, and travel car repair kit with your items to pack.
Remember, all the time, effort, and money it takes to schedule a vacation with your family is worthwhile. Vacations provide the "memory glue" that forever hold families together. With Jesus as your travel agent, you and your family can experience the victorious vacation of your dreams.