How to Adjust Your Kids After Coming Back From Family Vacation


Just as your kids finally acclimate to the routine and schedule on vacation, it’s time to come home and reintroduce them to the real world of not being on vacation. Though there is no place like home, you quickly learn that there is no place like a resort in which someone else makes your bed, cleans your bathrooms and cooks your meals and then cleans up after just about everything that you do. Your job is to provide entertainment and fun for the kids while also getting them ready for bed at night, and that’s about it. You really have no responsibilities. And then you’re home and real life happens and suddenly everyone is cranky and unhappy and working hard to figure out just how they’re supposed to adjust to the fact that vacation is over. It’s really hard with kids, especially since they like schedule and routine.

With four kids, it always takes a day or two to get our kids back into their routine and adjusted to life at home after a trip (I say trip because vacations are reserved for travel without kids). While our 15-month-old twins adjust easily, our 4 and 7-year-olds need a bit more time. They’re excited and wound and all kinds of crazed when we get home whether we just drove an hour to Orlando for a long weekend or we hopped a flight to Southern California for a week of fun and a three hour time difference. The good news is that it’s not that difficult to get everyone used to being home again if you play your cards right, and I have some advice that might help you as much as it does help my family.

Come Home to a Clean House

Your kids are far more easily adjusted to coming home when mom and dad aren’t stressed out and crazed. What my family likes to do is come home to a spotless house. Okay, so I’m a neat freak and my house is always spotless, but I like it spotless-spotless before we walk out the door. What I like to do is pack the car and send my husband and all four kids to fill it up with gas while I quickly run the vacuum and wash all countertops and floors one more time before we go when I can guarantee no one will touch them again.

The night before we leave I make sure all laundry is washed, dried and put away and I make sure all dishes are clean and put away. We like to walk in our door to absolute cleanliness so that we can relax. It helps when the kids come home and their rooms are in order and they can just relax.

Make Sure you have One Full Day Home before Returning to Work/School

The most important thing you can do for your kids is give them a full day after you get back with nothing to do before they have to go back to school. We always like to come home on a Saturday so that we have Sunday to relax – and yes, we typically miss church on those Sundays. Our kids need that time to sleep in since they’re extra tired, and they need that time to take a nap if need be and to feel unrushed and unhurried. They also need that time to enjoy their rooms and their toys that they’ve missed.

Give the Kids some Space

When we get home from vacation, our kids like to go to their rooms, shut the doors and play with their toys. They missed their stuff and they just spent ample time with us and their siblings without a break, so they like to use this time to get away from the rest of us. And that’s completely fine with us. We don’t mind that they like this time to themselves, and it helps them adjust to being home. And if they want to go to bed early that night, we let them; they’re tired and they’re in need of some down time.

Repack Accordingly

Before we head home, we repack our belongings in very specific manner. We use one suitcase for all the dirty clothes and one for all the clean stuff. We are pretty frequent travelers, so we have toiletry bags for us and the kids that do not require unpacking. They’re always ready to be tossed into a bag and have a second of everything we use in the bathroom on a daily basis so that we do not need to pack and unpack and repack all that stuff every time we travel. Additionally, we like to pack our bags to go home so that everything that goes in drawers is together, everything that gets hung up is together, and everything is broken up by person and bedroom. This makes unpacking so simple for all of us. We can unpack four suitcases for our family of 6 in under 20 minutes and have our house in perfect order again.

Unpack Right Away

Now the trick is to unpack right away. Nothing makes it more difficult to adjust the kids and you to being home from vacation than having suitcases lying around and things left undone. It’s far easier for the kids to adjust when all that is taken care of and they can relax and you can relax. When you’re relaxed, they’re a bit more relaxed.

Return to your Regularly Scheduled Programming

We like to try to keep the day we get home and the following day as close to schedule as possible. It might seem like the kids are off-schedule, and it’s because they are. So we like to get back to it without much of a transition. This allows them to see that we are home and we mean business, and I’m positive that it helps us all feel like normal people again. There is no, “One last night of vacation, so let’s order pizza and stay up late watching movies,” business in our house. It’s back to normal ASAP so that we can, well, get back to normal.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


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