Partial Vacations – When The Whole Family Does Not Go

One of the toughest parental decisions is when you are faced with partial vacations.  This is what happens when there is a family vacation, but not all the kids join in.  There are a number of reasons you might be faced with this issue.  In fact, sooner or later it is practically guaranteed to come up.  Here are a few situations and how we have handled them.  Maybe it will help you find a solution that works for you.

Partial Vacations Due to Young Ones

Early in your parenting career, this situation is a possibility.  It is not very likely when only one or two children are involved.  Especially if those children are close in age.  However, when you have several children and a wide range of ages this becomes very likely.  The problem is that you plan a vacation that is not appealing to the young ones.  This may be a trip to a historical location or even a visit to an amusement park.  These can be locations the little ones are too young to enjoy

We ran into this with a trip to Disney World.  Our youngest was under three and needed regular supervision in crowds.  He was one of those toddlers that could quickly toddle off.  We also had his sister that was five and needed attention on a long day like Disney tends to produce.  The older ones were not quite old enough to go off on their own.  Thus, we had five children to watch and two adults.  Even worse, one adult was in a cart most of the time and not mobile enough to handle the young ones.

The Tough Decision

We ended up sending the youngest for some time with his grandparents while we went to Disney.  Although he missed out on some family memories, he was so young they would have been soon forgotten.  It also ended up being the right choice, as keeping the four kids we took together was almost too much.  He also got to enjoy some one on one time with his grandparents.  That opportunity has been rare in such a large family.  In the end, the best way to handle these sort of situations is to try to make the best of them.  If you have to split up the family vacation, like we did, find a way to at least make that time valuable to those you “leave behind.”  I think we parents worry over these situations more than the kids do.

When The Kids Get Older

We are currently in the season of life where we have kids that are not yet off with their own families, but they are not part of our daily lives either.  They have school and jobs that make it hard to schedule a time for everyone to meet.  I actually took a page from my parents in dealing with this situation.  We look for larger blocks of time for vacation.  Thus, instead of a long weekend, we carve out a couple of long weekends and the week between them.  This allows the kids to join us for at least part of the vacation when they cannot make the whole thing.

This can be a chaotic way to do things, but it at least gives the kids the option to spend some time with us.  This can also reduce costs since you do not need to budget for the whole family being on vacation the whole time.  Better yet, it allows some more focused time with the kids during those days where they are with you, but many of the other kids are not.  You can even look for one or two days of overlap where everyone is in the same place so you can get family pictures and have a form of reunion.

Family vacations are important.  However, there are times it makes sense to craft partial vacations.  Do not let yourself be filled with guilt if this happens.  It is just a challenge large families face.  Instead, find ways to make the time you have with each child a special memory for them whether it includes the whole family or a few siblings.


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