My family loves traveling together. Whether it’s driving to a national park or visiting the beach, we’ve made all kinds of memories on the road.
Can I be honest, though? Some of our trips haven’t been filled with 100 percent happy memories. Some—okay, all—of them have involved at least one fight or argument. For instance, the time we got lost in the Arizona desert. (Google Maps said there was a road. There wasn’t.) Or the day we visited all the Washington DC monuments in 95-degree heat, and whining became the children’s theme song.
Road trips can be a blast, but close quarters with the kiddos can also lead to mommy meltdown. Whether you’re preparing for one last summer trip with your family or planning next year’s vacation, here are some must-haves to add to your packing list. (Hint: All of these can be found in Galatians 5:22-23.)
I know a mom’s heart is full of love for her kids, but your vacation may test your limits of it. Look to God’s example of sacrificial love, and remember He can fill you when you’re struggling to see your kids through His eyes.
Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the days of your childhood when vacation was just plain fun? Now that you’re responsible for the details, the excitement of family trips may get lost in the mire of your to-do list. Make sure to pack an extra helping of joy and wonder, and look up once in a while to savor the moment.
Life isn’t perfect, and neither are vacations. When your plans get waylaid or your kids won’t stop fighting, take a deep breath and draw from the peace that can only come from Jesus. Your kids may not say it, but they’re looking to you to stay calm for them.
Oh yes, you will need lots of it. Take note of how patience is described in Galatians 5:22 (Amplified Bible): “not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting.”
This can sometimes be confused with love, but the Greek root means “useful or profitable—the opposite of severity or cutting something short and quickly.”[i] When conflict happens on your trip, ask God how you can show this type of kindness to your kids and spouse.
Nothing will test your character more than being in close quarters with your family for more than an hour. Packing goodness may involve bringing your Bible or some other tool to stay close to God while you’re away from home.
Kids are the best at holding us to our promises, aren’t they? Faithfulness on vacation might mean keeping your word or graciously telling your kids why you can’t. It might also mean being loyal and constant, especially when you see other moms with the perfect family and wish you could make a trade for the day.
There will be times when you’re pushed to your limit on vacation, even if you’re the gentlest of souls. When you feel your blood start to boil, step away and let out your frustration in private. Then come back to your family with calmness (and an apology, if necessary).
Road trips bring plenty of opportunities for self-control, not only with our family members but also with our food choices. As much as I might go on vacation with a plan to stay healthy, my family always seems to find that once-in-a-lifetime restaurant that makes me want to gorge. If you find yourself in the same dilemma, ask God to help you enjoy the moment without making choices you’ll regret later.
Vacations may be fun and stress all wrapped together, but with the right tools in your suitcase, you’ll make memories to last a lifetime. Happy trails, mama!
[i] Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (NASB), AMG Publishers, 2008