How to Balance Personal and Family Time on a Family Vacation

Do you remember when your vacations were your own? The days when you got to relax oceanside with your toes in the sand?

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No? Me either.

It's a way-too distant memory. And instead of feeling refreshed after vacations, I used to end up feeling like I needed a vacation to recover.

That is until I learned how to balance personal and family time on vacation. And once I learned how to do this, everyone had a better time.

It's all about taking care of yourself, so you can be the best you can be.

And if you feel like you're struggling to get this balance down, don't beat yourself up over it. It's difficult to master. And even once you've "mastered" it, you'll have moments where you struggle.

But the more you work at balancing personal and family time, the easier it’ll get.

So, here are my best tips for balancing family and personal life on vacation.

1.  Create a budget

Think about that relaxing vacation of your dreams. All is right with the world, and you’re free to relax and enjoy the moment. But if we snap back to reality for a moment, this suddenly feels unrealistic. Why? Because we’re always worried about money – especially when we’re spending it vacation-style.

But if you have a budget, you really don’t have anything to worry about. You already know how much you’re going to spend, and you won’t have to cringe when you look at your credit card bill later.

Just keep in mind that this only works when you’ve taken care of things ahead of time. Don’t go on vacation until your bills are paid. Take care of your car finances and service checks, credit card bills and any outstanding loans. Make sure you’re current on everything and have some budgeted money to spend – and you’ll be able to enjoy whatever time you spend on vacation.

2.  Divide your time

Designate at least one day of “me time” within the vacation. You'll want at least one day to do something that's fun for you.

Naturally, you’ll have to make some compromises and remember that this isn’t a solo vacay. If you’re traveling with a friend or partner, maybe take turns on your “me time” while you’re traveling.

Let your spouse take care of the kids while you have a spa day. And you do the same when your spouse decides to go on a hike or to the beach. It's a win-win.

But if you're traveling alone with the kids, a "me day" seems out of the realm of possibility. In this case, be sure to do things you enjoy doing. You may not get your perfect spa day, but you can choose the kid-friendly activities that are the most fun for you. Remember, this is your vacation too.

3. Consider a sitter

This tip isn’t going to be right for everyone, but it can make all the difference for some. Consider hiring a sitter or taking advantage of drop-in childcare while you're on vacation so that you can have a few hours of personal time.

Of course, you’ll want to do your research beforehand. Read reviews and check accreditations. You won’t enjoy yourself if you’re worrying the whole time. But this is a great way to avoid that post-vacation regret. You should be able to do all the things on your bucket list too.

4. Shift your mindset
When planning a family vacation, it’s naturally all about the kids. These are the moments they’ll remember for a lifetime, and you want them to be magical. But at the same time, you may be visiting places you won’t visit again. And there may be things you want to do there too. Don’t forget that you’re important in this vacation too. You’re the one footing the bill, and you should get to see the things you want to see.

5. Share the itinerary in advance

If you can’t have any kid-free time during your vacation, no worries. You can still do some of the things you want to do. But it will take some prior planning.

Talk to your kids about the itinerary in advance of your trip. They should know exactly what you’re planning, so they’re prepared for the not-so-fun parts.

And from my experience, it's best to fit your interests in the very beginning or very end of the trip. This will likely depend on your kids, but I find the beginning of the trip is usually best. This way, they have the fun kid-friendly stuff to look forward to. And they're likely to be on their best behavior until you get there.

The most important thing to remember on vacation is that you’re all there to have a great time. Don’t forget that your experience is also important. Use any or all of these tips to do something for yourself while on vacation. Everyone will be better off for the balance.

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