expectations and family getaways

Last week our family spent a couple nights in Santa Barbara. We needed a little time away, just the four of us. Can I confess something? Sometimes while we’re away, I start getting a little annoyed. It seems like we aren’t in sync and things aren’t going like I’d hoped. Instead of ‘going with the flow’ I start to feel grumpy.

After I gave it some thought, I realized my frustration stemmed from unmet expectations. So I asked everyone in our little family their priorities for our trip. I thought, if we can lay out what’s important to each of us and set some expectations, maybe we’ll all be a little happier. And guess what, it worked!

Steve wanted to go for a few bike rides. Done!

Matthias wanted to go see The Croods movie and eat pizza. Done!

David wanted to play piano and explore. {He didn’t say it with words, but we know what he wants} Done!

And I wanted to get a few family pics and shoe shop for the boys.  On our first evening in Santa Barbara we walked to pizza and on our way back I asked if we could snap a few family pics. Everyone already knew this was important to me, so guess what? They didn’t complain. Woohoo! I set up my timer and snapped a few shots. 

A few family photos and my heart is happy! My expectations were met–and I felt more relaxed on our trip.

What’s important to you when you get away? Do you HAVE to have time to read a good book? Do you have a favorite restaurant that you want to go to? Do you need to sleep in to feel like it was a true getaway?


  1. Oh I love that last pic!! Print it, post it! I’m going to have to try the “expectations” on our next trip.

  2. What a great plan! I’ve found that when we’re away with the kids I need a little bit of alone time to regroup. Whether it’s simply 1 hour with a book and a glass of wine, or a several mile walk with my favorite music, it helps me keep things in perspective and I find that we end up enjoying the whole experience much better.

  3. Lisa, that is so simple, yet so brilliant. I’m going to start asking my husband this on Fridays in preparation for the weekend. He works a lot of weekends so the ones we do have together are important. But, we find ourselves getting grumpy when we can’t decide what to do or our expectations clash. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful family pics, too 🙂

  4. Hi Lisa honey, I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I’ve commented.. Crikey life has been crazy busy with my new part-time job (ugh!). I still read your lovely blog every day!

    What’s important to me when we go away (which isn’t often thank heavens because I’m a ”home” girl), is I love to go rock/stone hunting. My getaway is not complete until I have found some gorgeous stones or rocks to take back to add to my huge collection. I have to remind myself to look at the scenery and when I spot a river I’m like a dog seeing the sea from the car window.. I get a little excited! LOLOLOL Smiles..

  5. I have the “unmet expectations” grumpies from time to time too. So much better when you can just get it out in the open & look at how adorable those pictures turned out!

  6. I totally get that! We do road trips every summer – lasting from 10 days to 4 weeks (with two boys and two dogs). It seems to always take a day or two to get “in sync” with our travel routine; managing everyone’s expectations is definitely part of that 🙂

  7. I’m planning a big family vacation for next year, and last week we decided to sit down and write down what each of our expectations are for the trip. I always worry that we will end up focusing on what 1 or 2 of us what to do and then not meet the expectations of others. Or, even worse, we make assumptions about everyone’s expectations. Plus, I love that everyone is engaged in the planning part instead of it just being me planning for everyone.

    1. I agree– planning a vacation is stressful and I don’t want to carry all that pressure. Better is we work together. xo

  8. Lisa,
    Thank You for this post. I am guilt of this too.My husband and I are planning
    a weekend away in a week. I will talk to him about is important for him on
    the weekend.

    PS: your family photos beautiful!!!!!!

  9. I love the idea of setting priorities for everyone on the trip. I am more of a type-a list maker so I totally relate to your feelings. I will do this before we go on our 2 week road trip up the coast of CA. I know hubby wants to go to San Simeon and I want to go to San Francisco. And we’ll start from there! Also, your family is adorable. As always.

  10. You are always so open and honest and very wise about how to look at your issues. I love your idea and it works in all of life, not just time away. Sometimes driven people ( is that you?LOL) have higher expectations than others. I lived with one so I know. Glad you enjoyed your trip. You are fortunate to get to go to so many nice places. Just try to embrace that blessing first. By the way, your last family photo is definitely amazingly framable and perfect for this year’s Christmas card.

    1. Yep, I think I’ve finally accepted that I am driven–it can be hard to relax. Thank you for your kind words. xo

  11. I know EXACTLY how you feel! I wasted so much time in London of all places, feeling the exact same way – grumpy without being able to put my finger on it. Next time we go on a trip, we will use this trick to manage expectations and have a better – easier going time!

  12. There is so much wisdom in this, for vacations and everyday life! So much of what we are annoyed by could be solved with knowing each others expectations! I homeschool my 3 boys and just had a baby girl in the fall, so I really needed to hear this encouragement! I love your blog!

  13. Love you! Love that you say (write) these things on your blog becuase I feel the same way sometimes and we need to feel it and then move on and embrace our lovely families! GREAT family photos. LOVE!

  14. That’s a great idea! We are on our last day of a cold, somewhat rainy spring break. I had been worried that we couldn’t spend hours together on the beach, but realized yesterday that everyone is still having a great time…playing games together, biking to the village for ice cream, eating when we’re hungry and relaxing (it’s 9:30 am and I’m still in bed!). I think I’ll start our next vacation by following your lead and asking what’s important to everyone!

    1. I worry if everyone is having fun too–usually when I stop worrying everyone has more fun! So glad you’re still in bed at 9:30am–that sounds heavenly!

  15. what a fabulous idea! i love that everyone only had a few expectations each – makes it reasonable and achievable. 🙂

    how was the movie? our 4 yr old is chomping at the bit to see it! 😉


  16. You are so wise. We have been doing family trips for the last 7 years (usually a couple a year, sometimes 5 days, sometimes 3 weeks) and it wasn’t really until our trip to Florida last year that I finally *got* this. It was so nice to know everyone’s hopes and expectations and when it was time to meet those, you’re right, there was NO COMPLAINING because we all had buy-in on the plan! I love the *real* photos here….. just a beautiful family! 🙂

    1. Complaining drives me crazy–a vacation without complaining means we’re all much happier! xx

  17. You have a gorgeous family!

    I always feel the same way on vacation – and it is just my husband & I.

    I live for a schedule. I am happiest when I know what is happening ahead of time.

    But on vacation my husband expects no schedule whatsoever. Wake up whenever, go to the beach whenever, do whatever. It drives me insane. Lol.

    His idea of a vacation sounds like a nightmare to me. So we kind of compromise. I go down to the beach by myself in the morning and do some walking/praying/swimming. That way he can wake up whenever he wants and I won’t be waiting for him all morning.

    Just knowing I’m waking up at 7am and then going to the beach every day really helps my need for a schedule.

  18. My husband and I like to do little weekend trips as well as a vacation somewhere in the U.S. each year. What is important to us we have finally figured out is to not pack too much in! We are so much happier seeing and doing the things we really wanted to all while getting some relaxation time. I also have to snap lots of pictures and find some fun stores so those are my expectations as well as enjoy the nature of wherever we are!

  19. it’s funny when we finally learn to read what’s wrong in our selves, we can fix it. what I’d like to know is why it takes so long for us humans to figure this out ? It took me till my late 40’s to finally stop and ask myself these kinds of questions. Now instead of getting upset, I can deal with it like you did. looks like a fun trip, I miss that part of California.

    1. I totally agree! It takes time to stop and reflect on what’s going on in our hearts! Thanks Lisa!

  20. Just doing things outside our normal schedule is a getaway to me. We could go camping two hours away and just enjoy the beach, ride bikes and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire and Id be completely happy. I guess each trip is different, based on where we go. Sometimes its fun to shop(I scope out every thrift store I can find) and other times, like you said, its fun to enjoy sleeping in.:) I think overall its just whatever makes you feel refreshed and ready to go at life with new eyes.

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