Our family flew to Germany yesterday. My husband has been there 15 years ago but for our daughters and myself this is our first time in Europe. Over the next while, I will be posting our experiences and my reflections.
Everyone wants those Rick Steves’ travel moments but how often are those visions in our head smacked down and replaced by a Griswold’s family vacation? Now I have nothing against the Griswolds but a combination of the two vacation ideals would definitely be my preference.
So today I spent time reflecting and writing on what goes into the journey and how through our travels we are trying to be more intentional in how we relate to each other as a family. Don’t get me wrong…there will definitely be many Griswold moments along the way. I promise I will share those too!
So when travelling, remember…
Recognize Each Other’s Strengths
Getting ready for this type of trip requires much planning. I’m a spontaneous person but my husband is the planner. We are a great pair that way. Mostly. Sometimes we get frustrated with each other’s uniqueness. My approach to “fly by the seat of my pants” or “I’m more creative when I push something to a deadline” doesn’t always work in every circumstance and can totally stress an “A” personality out. Just like at times his colour coded spread sheets and prioritized lists make me feel overwhelmed and panic. But for the most part, we compliment each other and appreciate the gifts we bring to our marriage. When we attempt to understand where each other is coming from, we allow our spouse to bring his or her best into the marriage.
Not Every Moment is FB Perfect
Now travelling is such a family bonding time and many special memories are made but truth be told it also brings added stress to a marriage, between siblings or child and parent. We have spent some time discussing how to give each other grace when under pressure. What does that look like? To recognize what our trigger points are during stressful times is important. It doesn’t alway happen and in the heat of the moment it can easily be forgotten. But we are going to keep reminding ourselves to let the little things “go” and keep the bigger picture in mind. So if one child is freaked out by “old things” be respectful when taking him or her to a museum and understand anxiety levels will be higher. Or know that if another child uses humour and may be overly wild, it could be a coping mechanism for feeling nervous. Know that what might come across as anger or moody could actually be panic or anxiousness about a new situation. We all handle our emotions in different ways. Attempt to understand before trying to be understood. And sometimes things just get messy. Bickering will happen. Plans may not go according to how we think they should go. Take a step back and start a clean slate…I know I always appreciate being offered a “do over”.
Respect Each Other’s Passions
Not everyone in our family is into the same interests. When doing our planning for travelling we try to remember to take this into account. We want to balance where we eat, what we see and do as well as pace the day out. My husband is not one to sit by a pool on vacation. He is a goer and needs to be active. But he also knows even though I love to be on the move too, I desperately need some quiet time here and there. Both our daughters have different interests and passions as well. So sometimes on vacation we will plan doing things on our own for a few hours or pair off together for activities and then come together to share our experiences. When in Florida last November, my husband left for a little adventure to tour around different hotel resorts around DisneyWorld. My youngest daughter and I were much more content to enjoy some pool time and reading. Later that day the four of us got back together and enjoyed some great laughs about our day and looking over our photos.
When my husband began his business and our girls were babies, we didn’t travel, unless it was back to Manitoba to see our families. Starting up a business is hard financially and takes a toll on the emotions too. I was also working several jobs from the home while looking after babies and having poor health. There were some really tough years. Now we are in a season where we can enjoy doing travelling together. Not every family is in a season to travel or travel doesn’t work or interest them. We all have different points or paths in our journeys. We are thankful we are able to travel and do something together we love and I never want our family to take it for granted or feel entitled to it.
There may be a season in our lives again where travel is not possible and that’s ok too. For as much as I absolutely love our travels as a family, it’s not just about what we see and do, for me it’s my crazy crew that I am thankful to do it with. No matter what journey we are on, I’m just thankful we can journey on together.