Newspaper Page Text
816-L«ncasler Fanning, Saturday, July 9, 1994
by Rebecca Escoft
Extension Home Economist
For Lehigh County
Isn’t it time for a vacation?
That’s probably what you’re all
thinking, but when it comes right
down to it, family vacations can
be quite stressful. My extended
family vacationed together in
Wildwood, New Jersey, several
weeks ago, and after being there
for six hours, one of the mothers
exclaimed, “Yep, it’s started. We
haven’t been here even one day,
and all our clothes are wet and
everyone’s sunburned.” Fortun
ately, once we settled in, things
As stressful as they can be,
family vacations are important.
Dolores Curran, author of Stress
and the Healthy Family, studied
families that deal well with stress.
She found several common traits
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among these families. These fami
lies play together. And the parents
with children report spending time
with their children and enjoying it.
So taking time to vacation and
play as a family is actually a posi
tive stress-coping -strategy. When
families play and laugh together,
this communicates to themselves
and others that, “We’re a unit; we
share a history and a future.”
The goal is to get past the hair
pulling tension to the laughing to
gether joy. The following plan
ning principles may help. First of
all, not all family vacations and
family fun require a lot of equip
ment or a lot of money. Some
don’t even require much planning.
As much as possible, involve all
members of the family in both the
planning and the vacation activi-
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During the initial planning
stage, ask each person to share
two or three things that he or she
really enjoys doing with the rest of
the family. Compile a group list.
Begin to ask questions like,
“Where could we do those things?
Which ones do most of agree on?
How can we build this into our
schedule' to make sure we don’t
Using this process gives every
one ownership of the vacation. It
also sets up an expectation of the
vacation being a team/family pro
ject ... not something that either
the kids picked or the parents
picked (and the rest have to live
with it.) Why make planning a va
cation a team project? This helps
children build valuable skills that
are prized in schools and will be
prized as they enter the workforce.
“Cooperating to achieve a com
mon purpose” is a skill that they
will use throughout their lives.
Make the preparations a family
affair, too. Are there food prepara
tions? Items to purchase? Packing
to be done? Share the responsibili
ties. Cook together. Ask a school
age child to manage the list as you
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shop. Use the “divide and con
quer” principle where the task is
broken down into smaller jobs and
each person takes several. This
way one person doesn’t shoulder
the planningn and preparation bur
If there’s a disagreement at any
time, ask both parties to state two
good reasons for and against the
choice or rule. After each has
pointed out both positive and
negative sides, invite them to re
think the choice. Is it really fair?
The best option?
A family vacation can be won
derful, or it can be miserable. You
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make the difference by taking
time to involve all family mem
bers in the decision making pro
cess, including some of each per
son’s favorite activities, and then
sharing the preparation work. It’s
not easy. In fact, it’s probably not
efficient either. But in the long
run, you build important team
work and stress-coping skills.
And then once the planning’s
over, enjoy the time away from
your normal routine. If your fami
ly won’t take a break until after
crops are harvested this fall, clip
these ideas and use them to plan a
relaxing vacation on your lime
schedule as the season changes.
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