Here are 5 Tips to help your family thrive over Christmas Break:
1. EMBRACE THE “ARE WE THERE YETs?”
Road trips often begin with excitement and fun but as the hours add up, the excitement fades. Kids start asking “How much longer?” every. Five. Minutes. Bathroom breaks take much too long. We start to get antsy and angsty and frustrated. If you are one of those people who can’t handle the question “are we there yet?” then start preparing your own heart and mind for travel. Don’t just pray for safe travels; pray for fruitful travel. Talk to your family about embracing the wiggles and the long stops and the whining and the questions. Be intentional to help your family thrive by being patient and self-controlled.
Practical Idea: Give each person a roll of quarters at the beginning of your trip. Set up parameters for travel behavior. For instance, if any of your travelers (adults included) whines, fights with each other or asks “are we there yet (excessively)- that traveler pays a quarter. Set up what happens with the money being payed in. Maybe it gets donated or it gets put towards a treat for the person with the most quarters left at the end of the trip.
2. COMMUNICATE ALL TRAVEL PLANS
Historically, I am a “travel by the seat of your pants kind of gal.” I just go with the flow and can thrive with zero to little plans. However, this loose travel arrangement doesn’t allow the people around me to thrive. I have come to realize I need to be very up front about travel plans with all those involved. Parents, in-laws, aunts and uncles, grandma, and even my kids don’t always know what we are doing and where we are going. My son loves to know our schedule and he will ask every question there is to ask about where and when we are doing things. I am learning the mapping out our travel plans helps him thrive as we travel. Having a schedule and general structure then communicating it to your loved ones sets good expectations and helps them thrive.
Practical Tip: Even if your travel plans are not completely determined, send the tentative schedule early. Just put “flex day” or “TBD” on the days you are unsure of your schedule. Then everyone knows up front that the plans for that day are loose and flexible.
3. ALL IN FAMILY CLEAN UP TIMES
I was talking with a friend recently who hosted 33 family members at her house for Thanksgiving Break. My first thought (and response) was “How do you survive that chaos?” She shared that while yes, having 21 kids in your house is chaotic, her in-law family has a tradition that everyone cleans up at the end of family gatherings. Not just a fluff the pillows and throw out the trash but a vacuum, mop, and scrub the toilets kind of clean up. What an amazing blessing!
Help those you are staying with thrive this Christmas break by leaving their home better than you found it. If you are not traveling, then schedule all in family clean up days during your break to help keep your own house in a manageable state.
Practical tip: Be sure to prepare your family for this expectation prior to the actual clean up time. Let your kids know what their responsibilities will be. Tell your In-laws or family members that everyone will be pitching in to clean the house so they can be ready with supplies and a general plan. Also, check out this podcast (click here) about equipping your kids to take responsibility around the house.
4. FAMILY SERVE DAY
One of my favorite memories as a child is going with my Grandpa to serve Christmas dinner at the Salvation Army. During the Christmas Break, the needs of the widow or the poor or the homeless don’t stop. Use a few hours of your extra time to serve as a family together. Take the time to contact some places and schedule a family serve day. Serving helps others thrive and gives your family to obey God’s call to love others – especially those who are lacking basic needs.
Practical Tip: Local community centers often host kids events several nights a week all year long. Contact those organizations to see if they could use help while their regular volunteers may be traveling.
5. FAMILY FAVORITE DAY
Ask your kids what is their favorite thing to do as a family-then make it happen! Well maybe not if they say Legoland or Disney World. But let them dream and have fun learning their favorite thing to do as a family. If it is something that doesn’t fit the budget or schedule just say “I would love take you there someday but what’s your favorite thing to do when we are at home.”
My daughter loves playing board games as a family. We pull out the card table and pile up the games and play for hours. My son loves to play Mario Cart as a family; he especially likes beating us all. So we all grab controllers, I check my competitive spirit at the door and we play and laugh together.
Practical tip: If you are staying with extended family during the Christmas Break, schedule a window of time for just your family to go somewhere together and do a favorite thing OR invite others to participate in your favorite family activity.
Click here to listen to hear more tips for Thriving Over Christmas Break.