How to Avoid Having a Lousy Summer Vacation

Steering clear of problems in summer vacation paradise

Posted Jul 16, 2016

School has been out for a while now. The novelty of summer vacation is coming to an end and the natives are getting restless. These conditions can lead to stress.

While summer vacation equals fun for many students, it may lead to added stress for parents and caretakers. Finding day care options for children out of school and even planning family vacations during the summertime can leave parents feeling stretched and stressed. There is social pressure on families to schedule vacations or spend increased time with your children during the summer months.

If you go away, you can escape with your family to a new setting but you can't escape the family dynamics that come along on the trip.  Not sure what I mean? How about:

  • Moody teens.
  • Picky eaters who "hate' certain foods
  • Strong reactions to changes of plans
  • Messy rooms
  • Kids "not hearing" requests to get off electronic devices

Stress related to summer break or vacation planning can increase reliance on the unhealthy behaviors many people already use to cope with everyday stressors related to money, work, personal and family health matters, and raising children. Setting expectations about vacation with your family can help lessen these stressors, but it’s critical to also take steps to manage stress in healthy ways.

The American Psychological Association warns that increased reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress, such as drinking heavily or overeating, can lead to long-term, serious health problems.

The Pennsylvania Psychological Association offers these tips to make summer vacations a better experience for all family members:

  • Put things in perspective -- make time for what’s really important and plan only the family activities that are right for you.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Don’t expect summer to be better or different from other times of year and help your family to do the same.
  • Have conversations about the summer activities that fit into your family’s schedule and make compromises if necessary. For example, take a day off work to pack a picnic and go to the park or the beach if it is not possible to take an elaborate vacation.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities -- taking a short walk, exercising, starting a project, or spending quality time together at home. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change.
  • Don’t take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time. Ask for professional support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family.

To lower defiant behavior in children or teens check out: 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child

The above article was adapted from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's News You Can Use.

To learn more about stress and mind/body health, visit the Pennsylvania Psychological Association’s Web site, www.papsy.org, or the American Psychological Association’s Consumer Help Center at www.APAhelpcenter.org.