In the Kohut family, vacations have always been a spontaneous affair, like piling four kids in a motor home and finding an open lakeside campground for a week. As a high school math teacher, Janine, along with her kids, had summers off, so the only schedule to plan around was her husband Kevin's.
But something strange happened over the many years of vacations . . . . The kids grew up and no longer have synced schedules.
Dustin, 21, is now in the marines and away on active duty. Ashley, 19 and a freshman in college, has a summer job. Only Julia, 14, and Elliot, 13, were left to take the Jet Ski for a spin and make s'mores with Mom and Dad. In the end, all six of the Kohuts went on vacation to Millerton Lake in Central California, but only for a couple of days.
Like many families with teens and young adult children, the Kohuts are finding that the venerable summer family vacation is now competing with summer jobs, sports camps, and internships. But rather than just chucking the entire summer out the window, Janine and some other moms in this season of life are navigating the transition creatively, with practical wisdom and insight. Here are their seven easy ways to keep growing-up families from growing out of family vacations:
1. Enjoy more one-on-one time
Janine decided she could either mope about her older two kids not being present, or she could turn the situation into an advantage.
"It is hard when they are not all there, but on the other hand, it's a good time to connect with the other kids," she says. Janine said that the Millerton Lake trip gave her hours to kayak with Julia, giving her precious one-on-one time that is hard to get with four kids around.
2. Plan early
Janine has had to make one very practical change in order to pull off vacations: plan early—sometimes as much as a year in advance. Planning ahead can be challenging with multiple schedules, and it's a foreign concept for a figure-it-out-as-you-go family, but the extra effort is worth it. But be careful not to get upset or frustrated if your entire family still can't make it despite your planning ahead. Enjoy those who can be there.
3. Travel to your kids
The Kohuts have decided if their kids can't come on the vacation, they will take the vacation to their kids. Later this year, Dustin will be in Florida, and Ashley in New York. Instead of bringing them both home to California, the Kohuts will go to New York, pick up Ashley, and all migrate to Florida to see Dustin. It will cost more, and the logistics are harder, but Janine and Kevin are willing to do it because "it's important to keep the family close to each other andcontinue the relationships."