How friendly are extended family holidays?

Relaxing over a glass of wine after dinner with friends, discussions turned to holidaying with extended family and groups of friends. And whether family holidays are family friendly?

Let me preface this by saying that spending your holiday with extended family and close friends can be a wonderful experience. Your children have others to play with and spending the evening with people other than just your partner can be nice too.

But behind the idyllic picture there can be stresses you should confront and consider before the actual holiday – rather than burying your head in the sand and expect everything will just flow.

Here are my tips on what you should consider:

1. Choosing the accommodation

Everyone is going to have different expectations. Be open with all the adults you will be holidaying with about your likes and limitations – you need to tell each what your budget is, what features you would like both inside and out and whether you want to all share one place or stay within the same complex, but in your own room.

This bathroom won the females over!

There is no point one person researching accommodation that will cost you $2000 for the week if your budget is only $1000. It might sound like hard work, but you will get a short list and come up with something everyone is happy (or at least satisfied) with.

2. Eating arrangements

I do have to tell this story, which I hope my brother does not mind. Last year in Italy, I was lucky enough to stay in a beautiful Italian villa with my family, my brother and his family and my parents – a total of 6 adults and 4 children.

Believe it or not, the issue that caused the most tension was dinner. My brother and his wife do not like cooking while on holiday and wanted to eat out. However, my husband & I believed a barbecue or take away pizza at the villa was a better option.

Eating out with kids – sometimes it all gets a bit too much

Neither of us was right or wrong in what we wanted. But because we had not discussed our expectations prior to the holiday, it did lead to some tension. Trust me, sort this out during the planning stages.

3. Sightseeing

I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting for people and the indecision holidaying as a group can bring. As my friend’s hubby said, the danger of holidaying with groups is that no-one gets to do anything they want because everyone is trying to be diplomatic and keep everyone else happy.

I know this sounds a bit banal, but set out expectations and wishes at the start of the holiday and plot out what days you plan to do what activity. Being inclusive and diplomatic can result in no decision being made and days wasted doing nothing.

Three generations on a Budapest sight-seeing tour

Remember – holidaying together does not mean you are joined at the hip. If everyone wants to do something, you can do it together. But if you want to do something no-one else does, just go! If you don’t, you will probably regret it later.

4. Who looks after the kids?

The beauty of having lots of adults around is that there are lots of eyes to watch the kids. But just because there are lots of grown-ups around, does not always mean they are watching your children. Even if you are disappearing off to the toilet for a minute or two, let the others know so they will know to keep any eye on your child too.

Children need watching – especially if there is a pool

If you are staying with parents who don’t have much opportunity to get out by themselves, you might offer to babysit one night so they can go on a date.

Share ‘nanna nap’ afternoons. When you are doing nothing on a holiday, there is nothing better than lying down with a good book and drifting off the sleep. If possible, you might be able to alternate this opportunity with a couple of other mums and dads so everyone gets some relaxation.

5. Different parents, different discipline

This is the hardest one to offer advice on. What do you do when you have told your children not to do something (such as climbing back up a slide, blocking the others coming down), but you are sitting next to a mum who does not seem to mind her own child doing the same?

Or the dad or is standing 20 metres away from his toddler who is bending over the edge of the lake – “Come back Luke, you will fall in. Luke, I told you – you will fall in mate. What is Daddy telling you Luke. You don’t want to get wet, do you?” – as you run over and scruff little Luke by the neck as he starts to topple in.

All children misbehave at times – and all parents deal with it differently.

Different parenting styles come to the fore on holiday – even little things like bed times. What do you do when your children go to bed at 8.30pm but others in your group go at 7.30pm? Do you make yours go early?

Maybe this is where you really do have to grit your teeth, take a deep breath and chant the word ‘compromise’ over and over again. And remember all the GOOD things about holidaying together with extended family and friends, not just for you, but for your children.

P.S Thanks for the topic idea Jane!

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