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Letter: Family Vacations are Impossible

It’s that time of year again when I find myself pulling my hair out as a parent. Baruch Hashem, I am blessed with a number of sons and daughters, and they get along quite well – so well in fact that they look forward to going on vacation with each other. Knowing how much siblings can fight, I find this extremely heartening as a parent and is something that my husband and I try capitalizing on. The problem is, we almost never get the chance to do so, and this problem is never more evident than it is in the summer months.

To put the problem simply, boys and girls rarely, if ever, have the same vacation schedules. When the girls get off from school in the summer, my boys are still in school, so there is no opportunity to go on a family vacation then, and when the boys do get off, the girls are already in camp. When the boys finish camp, the girls schools have often already started, so obviously, we cannot go on vacation then either.

The same issue plays out with midwinter vacation and other times children are able to be away from school for a few days. Over and over, boys and girls are given different schedules, making it impossible for parents like myself to plan a family vacation without ruining someone’s schedule or getting them (and us) in trouble with their school.

I know we are holding way too late in the summer to fix the problem for this year, but perhaps a school administrator, principal, or other official will see this and implement changes that make sense for next year.

Family vacations are not only a fun thing to do. I strongly believe that they do much to foster connection and goodwill between siblings, and truly work to create a family bond that having supper together quite simply does not accomplish (not to disparage families having supper together – that’s important too!).

I may be going out on a limb here, but is it so far-fetched to think that if schools gave children the opportunity to spend more quality time with their parents and siblings it would mitigate a lot of the at-risk issues we are experiencing in our community? I have seen research showing that there is no greater buffer that keeps children from straying away than having strong family bonds and knowing and feeling that they are part of an inseparable family that will go to the ends of the Earth to help each other.

I love my children, I love my family; I think the least schools can do is allow us time to take advantage of that and soak it all in.

(TLS welcomes your letters by submitting them to letters@thelakewoodscoop.com.)

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There are 28 Comments to "Letter: Family Vacations are Impossible"

  • Rina says:

    Amen. Thank you for saying it. Wont change a thing … but thanks nevertheless.

  • Zs says:

    I agree with your complaint until you got to the part of this helping to prevent kids going off the derech. Seriously

  • Yakov K. says:

    If only the people making decisions would be more in tune with our needs this and some other issues wouldn’t exist. It’s just unfortunate. I feel your frustration!

  • Resident says:

    As far as I know, bein hazmanim is off-time for both boys and girls. If you choose to send your girls to camp and then “don’t have the opportunity for a vacation,” then your complaint really is that you don’t have enough opportunity for both your kids to go without and you and for you to go with them. Each has its respective qualities, and you’ll have to choose one over the other.

    • Busy says:

      Boys go to camp, they come home, have a few days and then yeshiva starts. In those few days my girls are in camp because it’s the middle of the summer for them because of the totally different schedules. So if I kept my kids home and did not send them to camp then yes we can take a family vacation but is it worth it to keep your kids home for a five day vacation?? Not in my opinion ! I mean we love each other but there can be too much of a good thing. We try to utilize the time when the older kids are out to do trips with the younger kids that we don’t usually get to do Such as zoos( the older kids would not tolerate it). And we try to squeeze in family vacations either right before pesach(yes I make pesach!) or on a long cool hamoed.
      On an unrelated note I have three sons in three different camps and they all keep asking me for the number to call their brothers it was so sweet ! They really do care about each other.

  • Brian says:

    Good point.

  • Zeldy says:

    Oy, stop kvetching. Focus on Klal Yisroel’s real issues.

  • sweet says:

    Well written letter.
    But, really, unless you put ages of ur kids, no one can help you.
    One thing I will tell you. I know this will come as a shock to many but I’ve done it: Take urvkids out of school for a day or two.
    Nothing will happen. Its very good for them.
    Enjoy !!

  • lkwdresident says:

    If you think 3 days out of the year of bonding keeps kids from going OTD, then you’re living a fantasy.
    Unfortunately, many people are going on vacation because they are pressured to do the “normal” thing.
    As for aligning schedules, you are welcome to keep kids home from camp if you feel a family vacation is more important for their development.

  • beny says:

    Because of this problem, I try to go away chol hamoed for 2 days / 1 night. I know its inconvenient (Sukkah/matza) but its the only time so I make it work. Also Shabbos chanuka is a time that everyone has off.

    • anonymous says:

      just saying that shabbos chanukah not everyone has off….Perhaps most but not all…

  • Whats the issue says:

    Just wanted to say as a member of a large family that manages to go on vacation every year I can say that chol hamoed is a great time to go away with cheap flights and a creative mind we have flown all over the usa on a shoestring budget and we all have a blast with 12 kids ranging in all ages

  • Outsider looking in. says:

    I think vacations are a problem for the letter writer. She can make it work out if she uses some creativity & less kvetching, I believe.

  • just suggesting says:

    The fact is that as children get older, it does get harder to find time when everyone is off. So instead of flying away for a week or a couple of days, try finding 2 days for an overnight or even a day trip. It can also be enjoyable.

  • YB says:

    May I introduce you to God’s given, mutually scheduled, predetermined vacation?

    It’s known as Chol Hamoed.

    Enjoy it.

  • Moshe says:

    With regards to family bonding, I would agree with you if you were going to a more private place with your family where they are not there with their friends.

    Like others we take opportunities like Channukah or chol hamoed to doi those trips. And also just pulling them out from school for a couple of days.

    We do find it a bit frustrating but I do understand the logic.

    For the most part no matter how much we wish it were different older kids do not want to “hang out” with their parents. They want to be with their peers.

    Now if you give teenage boys and girls the same vacation time you are asking for a lot of trouble. There is no positive side to that scenario.

    A mother can not understand what is going through a boys mind during that stage of their life.

    It is very good that they don’t overlap.

    The time will come when they are out of Yeshiva and seminary and you will all get together for yomtov.

    It will be beautiful and kodosh.

    All the best.

  • EN says:

    When the sleep away camp schedule their summer program, as many mechanchim say, a sleep away camp experience is a life changer. Many campers grow in ruchniyus and gashmiyus levels that would not happen by staying home or spending time with the family. Chol Hamoed is family time and the summer is meant for children to inhale the proper Ruach that isn’t found at home

  • Hisht says:

    Maybe not worth printing your dilemma! There are many in town who wish they had yourn problem…many people can’t afford to do daycamp and vacation in the same summer. And there are many more who can’t afford either option. This letter can really be sore pointnfor those who are not as blessed as you

  • Leah says:

    I agree with ” Hisht”. To have this ‘problem’is an absolute luxury. If your life circumstances bh allow you to have this problem, i hope you find a solution, but please be sensitive and do not call it a problem.

    • hm says:

      I don’t agree with you.

      If someone has $100 and another has $200, the latter can’t call himself poor because the first one has less? Why does someone have to have it the worst in order to be able to complain?

  • Don't remove hope says:

    Hi. I didn’t read the letter, nor the comments. Just the headlines and i don’t like it. I’m a single guy and I’yh hope to build a family. Please don’t scare me out of it.

    • reply says:

      Read the article. It is not so scary. It is a good problem, baruch Hashem.
      A problem, yes, but only because of so many many good things.

  • Hindy says:

    Well I do echo your sentiments about it being inconvenient to schedule a vacation, I do make an effort to make things work. I’m happy to take the kids out every Friday afternoon when the weather is nice. We also go for long walks on shabbos afternoons, it may not be a change of scenery but it is a vacation one where I get refreshed too. New Jersey is a gold mine of outdoor parks and adventures, if your goal is a family that stays together and you don’t necessarily need to go to another state together, we have very nice things to do as a staycation if you’re focus is correct. Stay local.
    The schedule is amddening for many reasons other than vacation planning, but if your goal is honestly to spend time with ur family, to give them positive experiences and to bond u only need the will and a few hours per day.

  • Mutty says:

    This article is written by a woman; Yup; like it says in mesechtas chulin: a woman’s shechita is not kosher because when it comes to a very hard job woman konk out.
    Travelling on a far vacation with kids is a very difficult job for the mother.
    When my kids were little 30 years ago we used to go on short summer vacations to New Hampshire , Florida and other far places of which I had a conversion van like a motor home of which the kids slept comfortably and sometimes in the parking lot of attractions there were minivans of heimische young families of which I heard such screaming and fighting husband and wife from within it I was amazed the windows didn’t explode.

    • Scoop Ninja says:

      Mutty, You can take gemaras and sometimes read them whichever way you want to read them, but I am sure I am not alone in feeling this statement about women konking out at a hard job.. as you put it …. is offensive. I’m just dumbfounded really. A woman is the akeres habayis for a reason. I look at how many times my wife comes through with hard jobs- both physically and emotionally and am amazed you even wrote that. Maybe it is because you are not mindful in your writing and you don’t realize how this comes across, but if you are going to pull out the mesechta and the daf and try to honestly tell us that the mesoirah and chazal hold that women can’t do hard jobs… you can save it.

      Maybe ask someone you trust in inyonei bayis for their opinion on what you wrote.

  • Mobile says:

    Generally, those that complain that it can’t work because of some outside reason won’t make it work when that reason is removed and those that can make it work will do so regardless. Always convenient to blame on circumstances/someone else.
    Bottom line, you get to choose what you want to do. There are many opportunities to do what you would like to do. The question is if you would like to take the opportunity or just write a letter to the Scoop.

  • TreeInTheForest says:

    My initial response to this post was to chalk up the letter writer as just another kvetch. But the fact is, I make it a point to go on a family vacation every summer, and I don’t think the value of it can be underestimated.

    There is a lot of value in spending time together as a family. Spending time with each child (homework, playing ball outside) etc, is not the same thing as spending time as a family.

    Day trips may be nice, but when children are different ages, it is very difficult to find day trips that they would all enjoy. I am also not a fan of going away on Yom Tov, While it can be a way for family to bond, it can come at the sacrifice of Yom Tov itself (just my opinion).

    I had one week this summer where all my children were home, and we went away for that week. I have also taken my children out of day camp for a week to go on vacation,

    I get that cost maybe an issue for some people, and depending on the year, sometimes it is for me as well, but it doesn’t have to cost a whole lot. sometimes the time spent in the car, watching the scenery, singing songs is the most memorable part.