Holidays can be strange. We look forward to them all year, but sometimes we come back more tired and tense than before we left—and many families find that squabbling and arguments can break out on holiday more than at other times of the year.
So, why do families argue on holiday?
First of all, most of us are not used to spending all our time together. In most families, at least one parent works full time, while kids typically spend a lot of time in daycare and/or school. Just as it can be good for parents to get a break from their kids, children can benefit from a break from mum and dad. But on holiday, the whole family is together 24/7 and conflicts that can be made easier by just taking a break from one another can come to the fore.
Resentment can simmer when one person (usually the mother) is a stay-at-home parent. They are responsible for all or most of the household chores and childcare all year round, and they can find themselves filling the same role when they are on holiday. If this happens, it’s time for the working parent to step up and play their role with responsibilities like childcare and food preparation, so that everyone feels that they are having some time off.
One big problem with holidays is managing expectations, especially when there is a wide range of ages to be catered for. If everyone heads off expecting to have a super time every single day, it’s not at all unlikely that those hopes will be dashed. Holidays are about fun and relaxation—and they are also about compromise. If adults want to spend a day at the museum, it’s a good idea to balance that with a day at the waterpark—but it’s not necessary to plan every single day around the children. Holidays can be a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to learn about the gracious art of compromise.
Holidays with the family can be stressful for adolescents, who can find that their parents and younger siblings are getting on their nerves. While it’s never OK for them to act out and be obnoxious, a little understanding of their need for privacy can go a long way. If your teen is getting near the end of their tether, allowing them to spend the occasional day alone with their X-box, book, or entertainment device is not the end of the world. It’s their holiday too—and a little time away from all the madness will probably help them to be pleasant the rest of the time.
So, what are you waiting for? Have a great time!
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