5 Easy Steps to Relax While on a Family Vacation

Written by Laura Waldvogel

Who doesn’t love to go on vacation? In the summer, we Minnesotans usually flock up north to a cabin on a lake. The warm sunshine, refreshing lake water, and lovely breeze are unbeatable – especially when you realize winter is only a few months away. But sometimes, the serenity vacation brings can be dampened by family dynamics and the little things that just drive you nuts. You know, your nephew waking you up at 6am, your father-in-laws tasteless jokes, and your husband’s grandma constantly tidying up when you’re trying to relax. It’s one thing to vacation with the family you grew up with, but it’s another thing to spend days with a family you are new to. Depending on how similar and different your family of origin was to your partner’s, your vacation might not be much of a vacation.

For me, I’ve been both. I’ve been the new in-law trying to figure out how to fit in and I’ve been the family member observing a new in-law trying to figure it all out – and guess what, it’s hard!

I find it’s a balance of being polite, being comfortable, and being yourself. There are things I’ve learned over the years that I make sure to do while on vacation with my husband’s family. These things keep me at my best and keep me in vacation mode. If you are the new in-law joining the family, I’ve got 5 tips for surviving a vacation with the in-laws. And if you have a new in-law joining yours, be gracious and share these tips with them.

  • Go with the Flow.
    When it comes to food, space, and time – be flexible and adaptable. Throw the schedule you’re used to out the window and let things happen. This will help reduce the stress of things not happening how you would have done it.
  • Take Care of Yourself.
    Sleep when you need to sleep. Eat when you need to eat. And find quiet time and space when you need it. Everyone needs to recharge (yes, even on vacation!), so listen to your own body and do what you need to do.
  • Put Down Your Phone.
    Disconnect from social media during the day (the pictures will still be there to share when you get home). Try to show up and be present during the down time of the day. Use that time to connect with family. You’ll be glad you gave them your undivided attention.
  • Be Generous.
    Indulge in conversations and share stories. Contribute to the collective vacation experience by bringing food, games, etc. And be generous with your ability to help out. Offer to wash the dishes, pick up after the game, bring the s’mores fixings out to the campfire, etc.
  • Connect with Your Partner.
    Remember your relationship. Don’t ignore the reason you’re joining this new family. Find time where the two of you can connect – my favorite is to go on a walk before dinner. And if you’re struggling to find serenity on vacation, talk to your partner about it. They might be able to help you navigate the dynamics.

This last one is crucial, as your partner is the one who knows their family the best.  They are essentially the bridge between you and the uncharted territories of these new family dynamics. If you are struggling to connect with your partner’s family, take time with your partner to understand the values they hold. Not only will this build trust and support with your partner, but it could also ease the stress you may be experiencing on vacation by understanding how their family works.

Now that you have a few tips under your belt: sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation with the person you love most.

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