Traveling with grand parents and in-laws can be rewarding and challenging in equal measures. Experiencing new things together can bring families closer and create lasting memories. But too much time together also means that it there are chances for overstepping boundaries or being unfairly judged. A little planning ahead to ensure some time apart and laying out the dos and don’ts early on can be the key to success in such a situation.
We learned that over Christmas when we headed to Florida with my husband’s parents and his sister and brother-in-law. They have been envious of our travels and wanted to see my son’s reaction to new experiences first hand. We did go a little overboard as we planned a long road trip starting in Orlando and heading to Key West over five days in Florida. I was nervous about the trip. This would be the first time my in-laws would be spending an extended amount of time with our then nine month old. This trip served as a window to my son’s everyday life amidst the busy travel itinerary.
When dealing with an infant it is very easy to become self centered. The baby becomes the focal point of every decision that parents make, from when to make a pit stop to what restaurant we choose. To ensure we still could work our schedule around Devin’s need, we got our own rent-a-car for the road trip. That way, when my sister-in-law wanted to go shopping at the outlets in a drizzly afternoon, we could choose to explore the area in a laid back drive. The time apart also gave the in-laws a reprieve from the exhausting task of being around an infant all day long.
As parents, it is our duty to set boundaries for our son. Though grand parents, aunts and uncles may have differences in opinion, it is up to us to ensure that our rules are being followed. It does help us to be a little flexible on small issues as long as we make our wishes be clearly known on key matters. In preparation for the trip we had engaged in candid conversation with my in-laws to help them understand our parenting style for Devin. They recognized that if Devin cried about being left in the pack and play that we would pick him up, if he wanted to watch nursery rhymes on the iPad while eating that we would let him and if he wanted to sleep on the bed with us, we accepted that. Being upfront with them allowed my in-laws to pitch in effectively when we were feeling tired. Seeing us function as parents with our own set of convictions was an enlightening experience for my in-laws as well. It felt great to be complimented by my in-laws, who I respect deeply, for our parenting style despite it differing from their own.
By spending time with my son for five days, his grandparents and aunt got to see his reaction to all sorts of new surroundings. They were amazed by his fearless smile on the air boat ride at Everglades and how fascinated he was with the colorful art deco buildings in Miami Beach. Traveling together helped to strengthen our bonds and my heart warmed at seeing how much my son was loved by his family.
Though nervous at first, I’m glad we jumped in and decided to go on this trip with our son. If you’re concerned about traveling with family start with a day trip or a weekend stay and see what works for you. Since we were prepared for the challenges of traveling with family, I’m glad that we had this action packed itinerary. If you already love traveling, chances are that you will be able to make it fun for everyone involved.