Written by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, the Marriage in a Box blog shares insights into common relationship struggles, gives ideas for moving beyond the roadblocks, and helps you find your path to happiness – both individually and within your relationship.
It is not unusual for a partner to lash out by criticizing their spouse sometimes after a tough day. It is healthy to realize that something hurtful was said and apologize quickly. You may feel stung as a partner on the receiving end of the critical words, but hopefully, you can empathize with a hard day and accept a heartfelt apology. If criticism shows up occasionally like this in a relationship, it is not a cause for concern unless criticism escalates to becoming a habit where consequences can be devastating.
To compliment is an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration.
To criticize is to find fault with or point out one's flaws.
The Difference between criticism and constructive feedback
For a relationship to function well, feedback must be given and accepted. There is a line between constructive feedback and criticism. Healthy feedback is about behavior and not a person. We can let our partner know what we think or feel without criticizing them individually. An example would be, "I'm worried about eating too much fat in our diet. Can we talk about how we might eat healthier?
On the other hand, criticism lends itself to commenting on a partner's character or personality and is often extreme and non-specific. For example, "You're lazy and always cook with a lot of fat, like fried food and food drenched with butter, and never cook healthily. You don't even care if it kills us!". Criticism usually contains words like always and never as part of the accusation.
This type of delivery kills our message's value and makes the feedback pointless.
The Effects of Criticism on your Marriage
Our critical side can raise its ugly head during stress or frustration, making it a difficult habit to break. Understanding the effect criticism has on your partner and the shared bond may encourage you to reexamine your ways.
It breaks down your partner's self-esteem.
As anyone who receives criticism knows, these statements cut deeply. Repeated criticism can shake one's confidence and cause doubt about the ability to perform. If criticism comes from someone who is supposed to love us, we begin to believe that what they say must be valid. It raises questions about our value and worth.
It erodes trust.
Frequent criticism feels like betrayal and violates the implied promise of protection from hurt made in the formation of the relationship.
How to break the cycle of constant criticism
- Stop trying to change your spouse.
Trying to force your spouse to change can cause more harm than good. Couples changing and growing should happen naturally, not something you should push. Encouraging self-improvement is an admirable quality of a supportive partner.
- Treat your partner with Respect.
Respect indicates that your feelings, happiness, and welfare are essential to your partner and promote trust, appreciation, empathy, and safety. A mission to change your spouse is disrespectful to them and your relationship. It can break down their self-esteem, hurt their feelings, and demean their sense of self.
- Stop pushing your partner away.
Personal growth is fantastic. Everyone has things on which they could work. Changing behaviors and responses for your partner is sometimes a good thing. But if you constantly try to change your partner, you disrespect them and send a message that what they offer you isn't good enough, and distance is created.
- Put yourself in your partner’s shoes
Realize that you wouldn't accept someone criticizing you. Think about how it would feel if your partner constantly told you that you need to change. Nobody likes to be picked apart and told what to do all the time. Demanding change from your spouse can leave them feeling unworthy and leave you emotionally exhausted and unsatisfied.
Tips to stop criticism.
The antidote to criticism is to use a soft, gentle manner to complain without blame.
Decide the kind of person and spouse you want to be and how you want that reflected in your marriage. If you are serious about removing criticism from your marriage, decide and commit to working on your part.
- Discuss your feelings using "I" statements and expressing a positive need. Avoid using "you" statements and expressing negative judgment, which will make your partner feel attacked.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your partner instead of the negative.
- Do what it takes to stop finding fault, belittling, nit-picking, cutting down, or chastising your partner. It takes work to accept your partner, even their annoying traits, bad habits that aren't harmful, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.
- Think about why you married your spouse and praise their good qualities.
Resign yourself to the fact that you will not change your partner. Observe any behavior changes in your partner. Without criticism in your marriage relationship, see if your partner is more interactive, lively, open, or spontaneous and seems more relaxed.
There are resources available from the Marriage in a Box website in the form of a toolbox, The Marriage in a Box toolbox and coaching can both help you and your partner change how you relate to each other. Marriage in a box tools and resources can provide tips to communicate effectively. Feel free to check out the available kit, resources, and counselors online at ttps://www.marriageinabox.com.
Research shows that you will be on the road to change if you apply new behaviors for thirty consecutive days. Everyone deserves to live in a criticism-free environment.
It is inevitable in a marriage that you will have conflict. How you handle conflict can affect the health of the relationship. We choose whether a conflict will lead to damage or a time to explore new ideas, approaches, and solutions for managing the dispute better. Reaching a middle ground is not something that comes easily to a couple. It takes practice and a conscious effort to ensure you don't burn bridges with your spouse and save yourself from lingering, debilitating bitterness.
Strategies for Healthy Conflict Resolution
Know yourself. How do you handle conflict?
Examine your thoughts and feelings about your marriage as they determine your attitudes about your marriage. Your thoughts and body language are vital in handling conflict, as they can inspire hope or negativity, and direct your behavior. Often the motive is to get the other person to serve one's purposes and is rooted in selfishness that leads to manipulation. It is easy to push hot buttons with negative words and behavior, which may cause someone to react negatively. It is best if communication is a calm, purposeful, thoughtful process.
If you need a time out for calming, it is essential to ask for this. It is best to use I feel statements to tell how things made you feel or use phrases like “It made me angry when …or It hurt my feelings when …” to discuss your emotions productively. Explain the effect of the behavior and express your expectations. Using open-ended questions starting with "how" or "what"; can help draw your spouse into a discussion. Try to manage your behavior instead of controlling your spouse's behavior.
Is it worth an argument, or can you let it go?
Relationship problems can arise and hinder communication with your partner. Contemptuous feelings and interactions, defensiveness, and criticism are traits fed by refusal to listen and come to a compromise. These attitudes and actions can lead to a breakdown in relationships and may ignore your partner's side of the conflict because of the desire to be correct.
Research shows that conflict can bring two partners closer together when handled constructively. Walking away and saying nothing is not a good option because the other person may feel they're being punished and doesn't let them know that you will return later. It may help to take a time-out and talk when things are calm.
Believe in your spouse despite doubt.
Believing in your partner despite doubt shows a sense of caring and understanding in your relationship and dramatically strengthens it. It conveys a sense of having faith and trust in your partner, and they will feel closer and more appreciated by you. This will, in turn, help them give you the benefit of the doubt.
One issue at a time, please.
Focusing on one issue will help keep things calmer, as discussing multiple problems at once will increase your chances of getting angry. Bringing up issues from the past as a weapon will not lead to a solution and will cause damage. It is best if you can deal with one point at a time and plan to deal with unresolved problems from the past another time.
Don't dwell on the conflict.
Exit an argument earlier than you think you need to.
You know yourself and your body better than anyone else, so once you feel tensed up and your thoughts start to boil, walk away. If anger increases, leaving the argument will become more difficult and steer you away from remaining calm.
Try to come to a compromise.
If you are fighting to be "right" or "win" in an argument, take a moment to stop and think if winning this battle is worth it; maybe cooperation and compromise is the real winner of this battle. Reaching a middle ground consensus doesn't come easily to a couple. It takes practice and calm, thoughtful effort to ensure you are both satisfied with the choices you make.
Marriage In a Box is a great resource that gives you access to the simple tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the site. You can set goals and earn rewards. Feel free to check out the available kit and sources of information online.
As a "neutral" third party, a professional counselor or therapist can serve as a safety point to help guide, contain, and consider feelings such as anger, guilt, or fear. They will examine causes and help you work through conflicts if needed.
Research shows that there's no on e thing we can point to that triggers infidelity in a happy relationship. Both men and women are susceptible to temptation regarding having affairs. Statistics show how frequently unfaithfulness occurs between the sexes and how attitudes about cheating vary.
- 21% of men have been unfaithful to their spouse or significant other.
- Women tend to cheat less, with only 15% acknowledging an affair in a current or previous relationship which reflects a 40% increase over the past two decades.
- 74% of men say they'd step out on their partners if they knew they could get away with it.
- 68% of women said they would have an affair if there were no chance of their current partner finding out.
Why does a Spouse Have an Extra Marital Affair?
Infidelity has many causes that are complex and varied and occurs in happy relationships as well as in troubled ones. Most affairs are due to relational dissatisfaction, but they can also happen with low self-esteem. Good relationships are balanced in their give and take, and when out of balance, it may lead the partner to look elsewhere. Other infidelity reasons include relationship deficits such as a lack of affection or a social standard that condones cheating.
Those vulnerable to infidelity are conflict avoidant, have a fear of intimacy, or have life changes like parenthood and an empty nest. Some dissatisfied partners begin to exit an unhappy relationship and rewrite their life with a new relationship. Multiple affairs may be a symptom of sex, love, or romance addiction. More recently, Emotional affairs have emerged due to social media and technology and involve secrecy, deception, and possible sexual intercourse.
What Happens When the Other Spouse Finds Out About the Affair?
- Even if the partner suspects something wrong, they are still shocked to discover the truth about the affair.
- The betrayed partner may have bouts of anger, anxiety, and mood swings, and self-esteem may suffer. The wounded spouse will need a lot of patience and emotional support.
- Loss of Trust - When there is betrayal in a relationship, trust is damaged.
- The partner will struggle with whether to stay or leave the relationship. If they remain, they will need a lot of time and patience to repair broken trust. They may micro-manage time and check their partner's texts, emails, and ask questions.
Cheating Spouses Must Cope with What they Have Done.
- The unfaithful spouse should never blame their partner for their decisions and behavior and take full responsibility if they want to restore the relationship or put themselves in a better place for relationships in the future.
- Avoiding the temptation to cheat again must be done. "If you want your marriage to survive, commit to ending all communication with the other person involved.
- Guilt tends to be about the person feeling the emotion. If someone cheats in a relationship, they may feel guilty and ashamed because of judgment for what they did.
- Remorse is an emotion that comes from genuine empathy for the pain the other person feels because of your actions. Someone who feels remorse understands and regrets what they did and the pain it caused someone else.
Can A Marriage Be Rebuilt After an Affair?
Factors that Need to Be Considered include:
Impact on the Children
The lasting effects on children who grow up with infidelity affect their future romantic relationships and their ability to trust. Be mindful of your children, as their feelings matter, and adultery can impact them. Avoid giving children too many details about what happened, but honesty is essential. If they see you working through your mistakes, this can be a positive and vital life lesson.
What will be necessary to rebuild the marriage:
- A sincere remorseful apology is needed to begin the restoration process of safety, shared values between the partners, and a promise of change.
- A willingness to forgive and believe in the other's sincere regret and desire to change is needed for a couple to move on.
- Avoiding the temptation to cheat again and commit to ending all communication with the person with whom you were unfaithful.
- A resilience to trauma will require flexibility to engage in different coping types to overcome it and move forward. As healing begins, it is essential to have clarification as requests come forward, including details and dates, rather than ruminating, obsessing, or interrogating the betraying partner endlessly.
- Reset the trust point by honesty, non-blaming examination of the state of the relationship and its issues before the affair. It is vital to discuss the wants and needs of each partner in a newly repaired marriage, renewing love for themselves and each other and leaving the affair behind.
A Marriage Counselor Can Help
As a neutral third party, a professional counselor/therapist can help guide safely, contain, and consider both partners' feelings. Also, therapy for children involved in infidelity is beneficial if you see increased anxiety, depression, anger, or behavioral issues.
Marriage In a Box can give you access to the simple tools, techniques, and solutions professional marriage counselors use for typical relationship issues. Marriage coaching is also available on the site. You can set goals and earn rewards. Feel free to check out the available kit and sources of information online.
Smothering someone in a marriage relationship is detrimental to the marriage. Planting a flower in a shady, dry ground stifles its growth. Eventually the flower will die if it cannot freely receive sunlight and water. Stifling your spouse’s growth by smothering them can cause them to run in the other direction. Every marriage requires a balance between togetherness and freedom to be yourself.
5 SIGNS THAT YOU MAY BE A SMOTHERING SPOUSE
- You need to talk to them every day, every hour that they are not around you.
Constant phone calls and text messages all day long might be sweet the first week of your marriage. After that, it is just downright annoying. At some point, they will be forced to avoid your phone calls and stop answering your texts so they can get their daily work done. You are setting your relationship up for failure.
- You are jealous of his or her friends.
A lot of people who are extremely jealous partners get that way because they don't feel secure in their relationship or have underlying self-esteem issues to make them act that way. When you get very jealous and try to "wedge" yourself between your partner and their friends, you're going to end up smothering the relationship to death.
- You feel the needs to control your partner’s life
The need for controlling a partner in a relationship doesn't come from a place of love; it comes from a place of anxiety. It's a sign that you're anxious that your partner will leave, cheat, or otherwise hurt you. Controlling them will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- You need to know every little detail of where your partner has been, who they’re with, or what they’re up to?
Pumping your spouse for answers to every little detail of their day is not sweet or loving. It is a sign that you do not trust your partner. Has your partner cheated on you or given you a reason to distrust them? If not, your incessant questioning will likely drive them away from the relationship.
- You Feel Your Partner is Your Life
Expecting your partner to be your everything only puts a lot of pressure on them and ends up making you feel crazy. It's not an attractive quality. You're not contributing anything to the relationship because you do not have any outside interests or friends of your own. You're smothering your partner through your expectations.
If any of these signs sound familiar, you are smothering your partner. When someone feels smothered, they do not enjoy being around the person smothering them. They aren’t happy in the relationship and will start getting irritable with you and seeking ways to avoid you. Eventually, they will seek a way out of the relationship.
The best chance you have of saving your marriage is to stop smothering your spouse.
Have an open an honest conversation with your spouse and admit that your behavior has been smothering.
Find a convenient time to talk with your spouse when you won’t be interrupted and ask if you may speak with them about your behavior. Come clean about your behavior. Don’t give excuses or reasons to try to justify your behavior, just admit that you know you have been smothering them with different actions.
Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
When you wrong your spouse, you need to own up to it. Apologize for treating your spouse that way and ask if they can forgive you. They may not be able to forgive you right away, but you need to ask them for forgiveness to let them know you regret your behavior. Reassure them that you love them and want your marriage to work.
Work out a plan together to put a stop to your smothering behavior.
Tell your spouse that you want to stop your smothering behavior and will need their help to do it. Ask them what things make them feel smothered. It may be hard to hear, but you need to know what specific things make them feel smothered so that you can focus on ways to stop those behaviors. Ask for their understanding and patience while you trying to work on your behavior.
Brainstorm things you can do to help stop your smothering behavior.
- Have Your Partner Set Clear Boundaries.
Ask your partner to make clear the amount of time alone they need to do things with friends, work out, or just do your own thing. Make it a very specific amount so that you have a clear expectation of when you will see each other again.
- Redirect your attention to things you are passionate about.
Look for classes at a local community center or college that you can join to develop an interest in something outside of your relationship. It will help you meet new people and find something you can devote your time to.
- Schedule Date Nights.
Regular date nights introduce healthy couples time into your marriage. Use the time to go out to dinner, go see a play, go do things together. Talk about things that drew you together and try to rekindle the initial attraction.
Learn More About easy marriage therapy exercises you can do together.
If you and your spouse have decided to go into business together, you'll have to balance regular business start-up requirements with some special considerations. You'll need to be meticulous in your plans and not forget that your business partner is also your romantic partner. Read on for some tips and tricks.
Write a Business Plan
As you and your spouse develop your business idea, take the time to write up a business plan together. This can actually improve your chances of business success and help you stay on track. Begin by describing your business, and include plenty of information about your products and services, your business's structure, tasks and roles, funding and financial projections, and marketing. You can make revisions over time, for a business plan is really a living document, so be flexible.
Find Space for Your Business
Perhaps the two of you are considering starting a home-based business. If so, you must make sure your current home is large enough to accommodate that business. If it isn't large enough, consider buying a larger home.
If you're a first-time buyer, determine what you can afford, and get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your house hunt. You might also hire a real estate agent to guide your search and the purchase process. Check out some potential homes online, and select a few to visit. Just be sure they have enough space for your business.
Market Your Business
When you get your business up and running, you and your spouse will have to begin your marketing routine. Build a website and set up social media pages. Make those sites extra eye-catching by adding a banner to boost brand awareness. You can create one with a free banner design tool. Just select a template and customize it with your own text, colors, and fonts. You could even add in animation or a short video.
Then put your banner on your Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Twitter feed as well as your website. Don't neglect more traditional forms of marketing either, such as newspaper ads, posters, and word of mouth.
Balance Work and Life
When you work with your spouse in a business, you must be careful to find a balance between work and life. Set specific hours for your business and try to wrap up work at the right time so that you can relax with each other. Watch for increasing tension and make an effort to manage your stress levels so that tension doesn't wreak havoc on your relationship. Set aside time for date nights, enjoyable activities, and vacations. This helps you maintain your romantic relationship even in the midst of your business partnership.
Build Your Business
You and your spouse can build a strong, healthy business that you both enjoy running. Just be sure to write up a detailed business plan and find enough space for your business (even if that means moving to a new house). Market your business well but also balance life and work to keep your relationship strong.
If you’re dealing with relationship struggles, visit Marriage In A Box to learn marriage therapy techniques that can dramatically improve your relationship.
Romantic texts, playful social media posts and random video chats are sweet ways for couples to stay connected. Regular communication with your spouse through texts and Facebook posts might even make couples happier and more secure in their relationship. However, when your smartphone replaces your time together, face-to-face conversation, and intimacy, it has become an unwelcome third party to your marriage.
Over 2 million Americans use their phones for calls, texts, Facebook, Pinterest, news feeds, sports scores, video streaming, music, and endless apps. We sleep with our phones on the nightstand, set them on the counter to help us make meals, rest them on the table as we eat, keep them on our desk as we work, and take them with us in our pocket or purse wherever we go.
At what point are we choosing to spend more time with our smartphones than with our spouses?
Experts say that smartphone use is meddling in our marriages in ways that are frustrating, causing quarrels and division among couples. The problem is that when we text, e-mail, Facebook, and the like, we are replacing the physical and emotional connection with a digital connection. When we tune into our smartphones and digital devices, we tune out to each other and gradually grow apart.
Physical and emotional connection is essential to forge and retain an intimate relationship in marriage.
A smartphone cannot create a deep, meaningful relationship between you and your spouse. We use our voices, body language, and touch to:
Communicate with each other. Couples need meaningful conversation to stay connected. The constant distraction of a smartphone prevents good conversation. It keeps spouses at a surface level of interaction and minimizes deep, intimate communication.
Express our love for each other. We need sweet spoken words, hugs, kisses, and intimate touch to love and be loved. Using your smartphone instead of engaging in these special moments with your spouse can make them feel as if they are in a competition to get your attention. It sends the message that you’re not fully invested in the moment. You are more interested in your phone than in having sex with your spouse.
Relate to one another. You need time together to experience each other. Time spent together exercising, watching your favorite TV show, going for a walk, having a date night, sitting on the beach, etc. is sacred because it promotes fun, laughter, play, new activity and conversation. That time helps you relate to each other and deepen your bond.
Set Boundaries on Smartphone use to protect your Marriage.
No devices during mealtime. Dinner time should be reserved for face-to-face conversation. There will be plenty of time after dinner to reply to phone calls and text messages.
No phones in the bedroom. Sleeping and intimate times should not be disrupted by texts or Facebook posts.
No technology on dates or time together. When out at restaurants, or spending time together, no phone use is allowed unless it is a call from the babysitter.
When you have something important to talk about, do it in person. No texting or talking on the phone. There is a huge gap in a ‘conversation’ when texting because you don’t fully understand what that person really means unless you hear the tone in their voice or see their face. Things can be taken the wrong way, creating bad feelings. Face-to-face communication is best.
Anything that interrupts or replaces your time together or connection to each other is not healthy for your marriage. Show your spouse that they are more important than anything else by limiting your smartphone use.
He usually forgets to put the toilet seat down. She usually leaves sticky hairspray on the bathroom counter. We all have bad habits or personality flaws that can get on a spouse’s nerves. Sometimes that annoyance results in one spouse nitpicking or nagging the other to do something or not do something.
This kind of fussy fault-finding usually involves petty, inconsequential issues or tasks. Most people who nitpick or nag don’t mean to disrespect their spouse. However, if you do it on a regular basis, it raises a big red flag in your marriage, ultimately tearing away at the bond in your relationship.
When you point out what your partner has or hasn't done or how they said or did something wrong, you may be belittling, embarrassing, and demeaning your partner. You're also saying that you want the other person to change and that they aren't good enough. Nitpicking or nagging are signs that you don’t respect your spouse.
How to Deal with Each Other’s Quirk’s
Address the real underlying need. There are no perfect people in this world an no amount of nagging or nitpicking will turn your spouse into a perfect person. We each have different personalities and habits. We can change in small ways, but a leopard cannot change its spots.
Those personality quirks and habits have always been there. They were there when you were dating. They were there when you got married. Over the years, for some reason, those quirks and habits began to get on your nerves, and you started nagging or nitpicking.
It is quite possible that your nagging or nitpicking is covering up something else you need. Are you seeking your spouse’s attention? Are you angry at your spouse for some slight? Try to open up to your spouse and communicate what is really bothering you. Make the attempt to resolve the underlying need.
Be Nice. You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. Rather than use negative behavior to try to change your spouse’s habits, show them kindness and respect. Talk to them as an equal instead of scolding them like a child. Bring up one thing that is bothering you in a friendly tone of voice and ask nicely if you and your spouse can talk about it and come to some type of solution. Please and Thank You goes a long way in a relationship. “Please put the toilet seat down after using the toilet.” OR “ You need to put the seat down when you use the toilet.” Which sounds nicer?
Learn to Live With it. If you constantly nag and nitpick your spouse, they will grow tired of never meeting your expectations, always disappointing you, and always feeling like a failure. No one wants to live in an unhappy marriage. Eventually they will look for a way out. You have flaws just as your spouse has flaws. Happiness comes from learning to overlook the flaws and love each other for who you are, spots and all.
Don’t Put Up with Nagging or Nitpicking. Marriage has enough conflicts from external sources without inventing internal conflicts by nitpicking and nagging. If you feel you are being nagged or nitpicked by your spouse, you should tell them that you have had enough of their nagging and nitpicking and take a time out from them. Hopefully, after you have done this a few times, your spouse will stop.
Abusive behavior in a marriage is never okay. While you may think it is constructive criticism, your spouse won’t see it that way. Take steps to stop this destructive behavior or seek professional help from a marriage coach at marriageinabox.com
Many married couples don’t travel with the children when they are young or limit travel to grandma and grandpa’s house. However, you and your spouse need a respite from your daily life every now and then and traveling also gives you a chance to spend uninterrupted time with your kids and bond as a family. Traveling with your kids and babies can be stressful and overwhelming, but, if you are prepared, it will be fun and worth it all. Here are ten tips to make traveling with kids easier.
Pack well in advance of your trip. You need time to think things out and make sure you pack everything you will need. Luggage takes up a lot of room and can be cumbersome to tote around. Plan on 2 suitcases, 1 carryon bag. One suitcase for you and your husband’s clothes, shoes, and toiletries. The other suitcase is for the children. Use color coded packing cubes to pack each child’s clothes, shoes, and toiletries in and fit them side by side in the suitcase. If you are traveling with a baby, you will also need a diaper bag with all the baby essentials.
Don’t Overpack. Babies and little ones have and need a lot of stuff. However, you need to focus on just the essentials when packing to travel. Think about the activities you will be doing while on vacation and pack accordingly. You may be going out to eat or staying in a condo, so invest in a foldable seat that attaches to the table. Pack a flexible entertainment mat rather than a suitcase full of toys. Pack n Play cribs can double as a place to sleep and a playpen. Invest in a good travel stroller or you will be toting heavy children through all the trip’s activities.
Pack a change of clothes for the kids and adults in the carryon. Roll up simple clothes changes for each child and adult and put them in a color marked zip lock bag. You never know when someone will spill something on themselves, have a bathroom accident, or throw up, so be prepared.
Plan for emergencies. Children can become ill at the drop of a hat. It is not uncommon for a child to get car sick, plane sick, or seasick. Always pack something for nausea, liquid Tylenol, a thermometer, band-aids, and Neosporin.
Use luggage and bags and aids that make it easy to walk with. There is nothing worse than trying to carry several suitcases, bags, and equipment through an airport with children in tow. Use bags and carriers that strap on to your bodies like backpacks, waist packs, carriers that double as strollers, rolling luggage, and rolling carryon bags. Use the luggage carts at the airport. Invest in a foldable wagon to tote things back and forth to the beach. Anything that will make transporting the things you need easier, invest in and use.
Keep them busy during the flight or car ride. Bring a bunch of little toys and books from the dollar store and put them in zip lock bags in the carryon bag. Give them to the kids to open when they get bored. They get excited knowing that there’s something new for them to play with throughout the flight or car ride. Any time you travel, make sure to bring a tablet or I-pad so kids can play kid-friendly games & watch movies on there.
Always have portable snacks and drinks. Hungry children can make your life miserable in a car or plane. Pack several small snack bags of crackers, dry cereal, gummy snacks, and sippy cups of water. Many places sell sippy cups that look like small water bottles where the lid closes shut and doesn’t leak.
Book adjoining rooms for adults and kids. Having everyone all in one room is a recipe for a sleepless night. At home, children usually sleep in their own quiet room. Try to keep their routine as close to normal as possible. Let the children sleep in a separate section of the room, like a suite, or a room with an adjoining door to yours. Set up a baby monitor so you can hear when the kids are up. Everyone will sleep better and be happier throughout the trip.
Choose kid-friendly activities and restaurants. While you and your spouse will not likely be able to dine in a fancy restaurant, you can choose restaurants with outdoor seating and some kid-friendly meal options like mac-and-cheese or chicken fingers. Most areas for tourists have a list online of kid-friendly activities to do. Parks, museums, nature trails, beaches, pools, etc. are all good options.
Don’t forget to plan a little “couple” luxuries. When you are out and about during the day, pick up a bottle of wine, some cheese, and appetizers that you and your spouse can enjoy on the patio after the kids go to bed.
Traveling with children is challenging and a lot of work, but you can have a very enjoyable and memorable family vacation by planning in advance.