Family vacations are stressful when you’re traveling with kids. The change in routines, parenting in public, transitions, and uncertainties all add to what can make for the vacation feeling not even worth going on.

In this podcast, you’ll learn tools to help make traveling with kids easier. Tools including: 

  • What to do about feeling anxious 
  • Changing your self-talk
  • Instilling confidence in your kids
  • How to think about your kids
  • Navigating transitions
  • How to stop “shoulding” on yourself
  • Parenitng in public
  • How to get excited about your travels

This podcast will help you show up more confident and excited about your upcoming family vacations!

If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space designed to help you overcome challenges and live your best life. I’d love for you to join me inside the Mom On Purpose Membership where we take this work to the next level.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Mom On Purpose, where it’s all about helping moms overcome challenges and live their best lives. My hope is by being here, you are more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog, mama, Chicagoan, and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.

Hello my lovely friends. How we doing today? How is your summer going? I hope it is going well today we are going to talk about a summertime topic, vacations and travel with kids. I have been getting a lot of requests for this topic. I do a lot of coaching and teaching on this topic and specifically we are going to dive into dread, feeling anxious about upcoming trips. How to be proud of yourself for going for it when you have kids changing your self-talk around what the trip might be like, how to think about your kids and how they’ll be on the trip in a way that’s both in integrity with what’s likely to happen and also that really gives them the benefit of the doubt in a really empowering way.

We’re going to talk about transitions and how to stop shoulding on your kids and also what comes up with respect to parenting in public embarrassment and all of that good stuff. So I’m looking forward to diving into this topic with you. Before we dive into that, I just want to give a shout out to all of y’all inside the Mom On Purpose membership. I set an intention to make the membership even better and more impactful than it has ever been this summer because traditionally summertime’s a really easy time to skip out on doing this work, skip out on our goals, not really pay attention, and kinda just enjoy ourselves. The problem with that is we end up kind of mad at ourselves in the fall for not continuing to do the work and oh my goodness, through this intention, all of you inside the membership have made this come to fruition.

You are showing up, you are getting coached. It’s just been so fun for me to see this vision come to life and to see the impact of it on all of the members’ lives. It’s just why I do this work to help women and their unnecessary suffering help them have tools and skills to show up as the woman they want to be, as the wife, as the mom, they want to be in all of their roles. However you want to be doing it more purposefully and with intention, using these tools to make your life better. That is what it’s all about and life continues during the summer. So kudos to you if you’re doing the work. If you’re not in there yet, I highly suggest you join us right now over at See what it’s all about. I promise you my friend, you will be able to change your life with these tools and I would just love to see you get to do that this summer.

Alright, with that, let’s dive in to today’s episode. A member wrote in with the following question. Hi Natalie. We have a couple summer vacations planned as well as family reunion this summer. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety, thinking about traveling with my three kids, aging from two to eight years old, the plane flights, the eating, the sleeping, the hotels, the travel, the meltdowns, the screens, the later nights, the hard moments in public, the lack of routines, the transitions, all of it makes me nervous and dread the upcoming family events that I know should be really exciting. Do you have any tips or advice to help make this a little bit easier? Yes, I do, my friends, let’s jump right in. I think what you’re experiencing is so typical for any sort of travel with kids. I’ve often used the expression that, you know, it’s not a vacation, it’s travel.

And if that feels empowering to you, use that. But sometimes also we want to give ourselves permission to enjoy what is our family vacation. So setting realistic expectations, getting your mindset in check and kind of having a little bit more empowered mindset than where you are right now, I think will be very helpful and valuable for your upcoming trips. So let’s start off with talking about feeling your feelings. It is okay to feel anxious. It is okay to feel nervous. Anxiety is just fear about the unknown future. Your brain wants to make sense of what it doesn’t yet know. It can’t predict exactly how your kids are going to react, behave, what problems or challenges are going to come up. And so your brain is like a prediction machine. It’s going to work on coming up with likely scenarios. So what you can do to just experience this anxiety without letting it be in the driver’s seat is name it, allow it and have the self-confidence that you will be able to navigate anything that comes your way.

So it would just be something like this, oh, I see you there, anxiety, I hear you. I’m going to breathe through this experience right now, this emotion and allow it. And I know that whatever comes up during our travel, I will be able to navigate at that time. So it’s okay, you can calm down. So you’re acknowledging it. Naming it is so powerful and you’re breathing through it, but you’re not kind of spiraling and attaching to it. You’re witnessing it, you are watching your feelings. I also want to mention here that you should be really proud of yourself. This is something that I didn’t see in your submission. You are living your life traveling with your family. It’s so much easier to just stay home and not do these things and kudos to you for doing it. And I think it’s so important that you tell yourself that because no one is probably knocking on your bedroom door saying, Hey, you way to go.

This is awesome. And so you need to do that for yourself. Give yourself that positive self-talk because it really will change the way that you view yourself through all of this, and that will give you more self-confidence and more enthusiasm instead of some of that dread. Now let’s dive into what you’re telling yourself about how hard this will be and your own self-confidence. So are you telling yourself this is going to be so hard and therefore I don’t think I can do this? Or are you telling yourself this might be hard and I know we’ll figure it out, or there could be hard parts on this vacation and I know that I’m capable.

So notice that the difference between what you make hard mean matters because it influences your belief in yourself. Do you believe that you can do this? And are you telling yourself that? Are you telling yourself, I’m capable? I can figure this out. This is temporary. There may be challenging moments and I can do challenging, I can figure this out that’s very different than, this is hard. This feels impossible. I can’t figure this out. One thought that I like to go to in the moment is, Oh, this is just harder than I thought it was going to be. Because intellectually sometimes we understand that something might be hard, but when we’re going through it, it can feel a lot harder. And so I just tell myself that I was wrong with respect to the magnitude of hard. And so I just say to myself, oh, I didn’t know it was going to be this hard.

I was wrong about how hard this is going to be. It’s harder than I thought, and that’s okay. I can do hard. So you have to add in that. And after the hard to tell your brain what to make hard mean. Hard doesn’t mean bad. It just means hard. So make hard mean you can handle it. You are capable, but still validate your feelings along the way. Your feelings are valid and you’re still capable. Now let’s shift into what are your specific thoughts about your kids. Now, just like all human beings, we experience positive and negative emotions throughout the day. This is true whether we are home. It’s also true whether we are traveling. So you might feel frustrated while you are in the airport, or you might not get to go on an excursion during your vacation because, one of your kids is having a meltdown and you might feel defeated.

We all feel a variety of emotions kind of throughout the day, and those feelings are valid. And you can just say, I am feeling fill in the blank, but what are you thinking and feeling about your kids? What is your mindset about them? Are you thinking that they’re not really capable and the whole time they are going to be problems and challenging and, melting down? And are you kind of seeing and expecting the worst in them? Now, I don’t think going to the opposite end of the spectrum is helpful, where you just think they’re going to be on their best behavior, but also thinking that they’re going to be on their absolute worst behavior. It it reinforces to them that you don’t think they’re capable. So if the running narrative in your mind is, my kids are not capable of handling this, then you’re going to act kind of overbearing and a little bit clingier and just, the way that you parent them will show that you don’t believe that they can figure things out.

And I’m not suggesting at all that you, you go to the opposite end where you think they’re going to, you know, always do the right thing and be happy the whole time. But in the middle is you believing that they are capable of figuring things out and knowing that they’re going to have some positive emotions and some negative emotions just like you will. Now, their capacity to feel those negative emotions in an acceptable way is probably different than your capacity as it should be because they’re kids, they don’t have that prefrontal capacity yet. But the way that you think about them really matters. If you’re thinking, my kids aren’t capable, they can’t figure this out, they’re going to have meltdowns the whole time, they’re not going to, do well on these trips. That negativity is going to come out in your parenting and they’re going to live into that.

They will feel that. Comparatively you can think something like they are capable and they’re going to figure this out and they’re going to build skills along the way and we can navigate hard moments together. So you’re living in the reality that there will be hard moments, but you’re not thinking that those hard moments are bad. You’re thinking that it’s an opportunity for you to work together to navigate whatever the hard moment is about. So project confidence onto them and live into that. And it’s okay if you know, worst case scenario happens and they melt down, that’s okay too. But the way that you show up believing in them and their capabilities really influences what they live into. I talk about this a lot when I talk about separating out feelings from identity. And the example that I I give often is with disrespect, instead of thinking my kid is so disrespectful, it’s, I have an amazing kid who just did that thing that was disrespectful.

So you separate out your identity from actions as well as from feelings. So instead of, I have a bad kid, it’s, I have a really good kid who’s having a hard time right now who’s feeling upset When you have a positive identity in your mind for your kids, number one, it just benefits you because it’s more connecting and more empowering for you to just relate to your kids to be with them. And also it does positively impact them because they pick up on your belief in them. Now, that doesn’t mean automatically they have the skillset of regulating themselves at a level 10, but it does mean that they keep trying, knowing that you’re believing in them. So it does matter. So notice your thoughts, feelings, and actions about your kids. Notice if you’re combining their identity with their actions and or their feelings and separate that out, really believe that you have a really great kid who’s learning this skill of fill in the blank and who is capable of figuring it out with your help.

An additional point that I want to talk about here is parenting in public. I know that with travel and with vacations and with being around extended family and just strangers in general, there is this added layer of navigating all of this in public. So what I find fascinating about this topic generally is that embarrassment often comes up, and I looked up the definition of embarrassment, and I want to share it here with you. The Googles say that embarrassment is “an emotional state that is associated with feelings of discomfort. When someone does a socially unacceptable or frowned upon act that is witnessed by or revealed to others”. Another definition I read was the “shame you feel when your inadequacy or guilt is made public”. Now what’s interesting, and and that is somewhat left out of, of these definitions that I want to make sure the link is, is made clear, here is the thought that creates the feeling.

So you might feel the feeling of embarrassment and that happens after there’s a circumstance like your kids having a big meltdown in the middle of the airport. But that meltdown in the middle of the airport doesn’t create the embarrassment. It happens almost instantly. But the difference between you feeling embarrassed and the person kind of across the aisle from you who doesn’t feel embarrassed, is the story that you’re telling about your child. So the story that you’re telling in your mind, the thoughts that you’re thinking create, the feeling of embarrassment. And typically with embarrassment, particularly with respect to parenting, you are making your child’s actions mean something negative about you. And so you are judging yourself and you’re particularly thinking that other people are judging you. So coach yourself and find the thought. What are you thinking that’s creating embarrassment for you? Are you thinking something like, they’re judging me, I’m doing something wrong.

They think I should have a better handle on this. I can’t believe this is happening. What are you making the circumstance mean your kids’ behavior mean about you? Once you figure that out, then you kind of have your starting point of your mindset that’s creating the embarrassment. Then you can create a different story and you can do this out of the moment, knowing that there are likely going to be some instances in public where you’re going to need to parent or hold boundaries, or your kid might be having a meltdown or, or something that, would normally create embarrassment for you. What do you want to think? Instead, you can create a story that feels so much more empowering. So instead of thinking that people are judging you and annoyed with you or your kid or whatever is happening, you can decide to think that people are probably relating to what I’m experiencing so much right now, and I bet they have the most compassion for me, even if they feel a little bit annoyed, just like I feel a little bit annoyed.

One thought that I like to go to with this is it’s totally fine for us to take up space. Women historically have been socialized to be people pleasers. So growing up we were told, oh, you’re such a good girl when you are accommodating, when you are pleasing, when you are quiet on an airplane. And what I frequently remind myself of is that my goodness is internal. I am good inside and taking up space is okay, even if it’s slightly inconvenient for someone else. Now, I’m not going to deliberately make my space inconvenient for someone else. I’m not going to deliberately throw a tantrum. However, if my child is throwing a tantrum and I’m doing my best and we are navigating it together, I remind myself in my mind, it’s okay for us to take up space. And I like to tell myself, it’s none of my business what other people think about this.

So you can go to thoughts like, people are probably mostly being compassionate about this or they’re relating to me or, and sort of positive thoughts like that if you’re going to make up a story about what other people think, because the truth is you never know what someone else is thinking. Not ever. You can’t, even if they give you a dirty look, you don’t know what they’re thinking, you can just as easily think, gosh, that was rude, or Oh my gosh, she’s judging me. Or you could think, oh, she must be having a hard day. I get it. This is a hard moment for us too. You can have compassion for other people. You can not feel embarrassed at all. I have to say, I really do not get embarrassed in public at all with respect to parenting. And, there are definitely other instances, maybe personally where I would feel embarrassed.

I guess I could think of hypotheticals, but with respect to parenting or my kids melting down or like us taking longer, like even just little things that might typically trigger thoughts that would create embarrassment don’t for me, because I’ve done so much work on this mindset where I tell myself, it’s okay for us to take up space. It’s okay for my kids to be here. It’s okay for them to act like kids. Now of course, I want to be considerate. I do not want to encourage meltdowns or anything like that. But I think we so often go to the other end of the spectrum where we feel so shameful like we are doing something so wrong when our kids are having a hard time and they’re having a hard time because they’re learning. They’re not doing it deliberately. They’re not maliciously having a meltdown in the middle of the airport.

They’re having a hard time because they’re tired, they’re sleep deprived, they have a different routine, and that’s okay. That’s a skill they’re building, right? Alternatively, we just stay inside our home every day and do the same routine over and over. Of course, we’re not going to do that. We are going to take the trips, we are going to go to the store, we are going to do, you know, the events or whatever it is. And that means routines will be thrown off. And that means that our kids will have an opportunity for their capacities to grow. And part of that means struggling and just knowing that and being okay with that. And of course, you’re going to do the things that you want to do, comforting them, providing them with, you know, food and drink and opportunities to sleep to the extent that you can. And also, I just don’t think there’s a space where embarrassment is useful at all.

I’m like, I get it. My kid’s screaming, right? Like, I don’t, I’m not enjoying it either. And it’s, it’s so much easier to navigate that and be connected to my child from that space without the embarrassment. So work on that. You can do a lot of work on your thoughts about that out of the moment and ahead of time. Okay, now let’s talk about transitions. Transitions leaving for a trip or a vacation and then transitions coming home. One of my favorite go-to thoughts for this is expecting resistance in the transition. So I just expect there to be resistance in the transition. I expect there to be challenges and kind of this, day ahead and day after where we’re all navigating, how to get back into our routine. And so I don’t expect us to jump right back into it. I expect there to be some resistance in that transition and that thought alone just helps me navigate when there is that, kind of predictably, difficult time leading up to leaving and or integrating back into our day-to-Day life at home when we return. The last thing I want to talk about is shoulding on yourself. At the end of your submission, you wrote that, you know, you should be really excited about these trips and not feel nervous or anxious or dread. And while I think it’s fun and awesome to feel excited about trips when you should on yourself, you think that there’s a way to be that is right and a way to be that is wrong. So what you’re saying is, the way that I’m feeling is wrong. I should be excited. I shouldn’t feel how I’m feeling. And when you do that, you invalidate your authentic experience. It’s very disconnecting for yourself. And so just tell yourself, oh, that’s me shoulding on myself. I don’t ever need to feel anything other than how I’m feeling. My feelings are valid. It’s totally reasonable that I am feeling a little bit of dread and nervousness and anxiousness leading up to these trips.

Of course, I’m feeling this way. So you’re validating yourself just like you would want to be validated from a friend. I got you girl. I know this is kind of hard and tricky and there’s a little bit of nerves and anxiety. It’s all good. I’m feeling exactly how I want to be feeling, and I know that there will be some exciting things to come on these trips. So you can get into excitement if you want to, but do it from a place of wanting to feel that way, not from a place of thinking. You should feel a certain way. There’s no way you should ever feel. You can feel however you want to feel, and that is valid and so important that you recognize that for yourself. How I’m feeling is valid and I can decide if I want to feel differently, that’s available to me.

So do you want to feel excited about these trips? Because you can hold space for multiple feelings. You can feel a little bit of nervousness and you can feel really excited, but only choose excitement. If you want to feel excitement, don’t choose it because you think that’s how you’re supposed to be. You’ll just add more kind of layers of, of disconnection and judgment onto yourself, which just makes the experience harder than it might be. So if you want to feel excited, feel excited, because that’s just who you want to be. And if your default brain creates some nervousness, feelings and some anxiety producing feelings, that’s okay too. Embrace all of it, my friend. All right, I hope you all enjoy your vacations and your upcoming travel with your families this summer. If you would like me to answer your question on an upcoming podcast, call into the podcast hotline at 8 3 3 3. Ask Nat. That’s 8 3 3 3 2 7 5 6 2 8. Happy summer my friends, I will talk with you next week. Take care.

Thank you for being here and listening. Now, head on over to to learn more about the Mom On Purpose membership, where we take all of this work to the next level.

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