Every year we get together with our family for a big family reunion trip. Hold up, that’s a vague statement because our family is enormous. We get together annually with our immediate family for a week at Lake Cushman on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. We love it there; it’s beautiful. We love even more though creating the most fun memories with all of the kids. It’s #HowWeFamily in the summer and it does wonders for our family for the rest of the year too.
Family reunions are something a lot of families both look forward to AND dread. They’re also something that so many families will only do once in a blue moon. Not us. Since we do it every year, before we’re even separating from each other we’re talking about next year. I’ll be honest: when I joined the Taylor clan I thought it was the weirdest thing ever that they all like each other and do an annual family reunion trip together. 12 trips to Lake Cushman with them later…
What you'll find...
Why have a family reunion trip
Confession: we live an hour away from aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents but we don’t see them often enough. I know, it’s odd to live so close and not spend every weekend together or something, but you know, we’re all busy people. Isn’t that the excuse most people use for becoming distant with friends and family?
Having an annual family reunion guarantees us the chance to rebuild any connections that have faded and get closer to one another. Every year immediately following our big trip together, we also are really good about seeing each other. Each year it’s gotten better and better, and as the kids are all getting older, they want to spend more time together. After a week of playing with cousins, they all want to hang out and it gets us active as a big family more and more, and for farther out after the reunion each year.
True, as summer fades, holidays begin, winter travel hits and we see each other less and less. But then we’re busy, right? And that’s why it’s so great that we can randomly chat about the next upcoming family trip. And then we connect again and as the family reunion approaches, we see each other more and more. It’s a circle.
Really, having an annual family reunion truly does make us a stronger team each year. Don’t take my word, plan one for your family and hold each other accountable for doing it year after year. You’ll see the amazing benefit (and make great memories!)
How does family time play out
Until this year, our annual family reunion has always been a camping trip. We’re all getting older now and would like to have a bit more comfort, so this year we booked a VRBO (vacation rental). It was incredible and we all had our own space. Having space doesn’t mean that anybody just goes off on their own, but it means that each family unit can function in their own way and there’s harmony.
Family time during our annual family reunion is a mish-mash of help and relaxation. Us being the dads with the youngest kids, get a little extra help… because everybody wants to help with a baby/toddler. OMG, it’s amazing when auntie or grama or grampa or other dad is just present at all times and up for changing a poopy diaper. That sort of support, especially while traveling and on vacation, is such a relief.
And naptime is great too, as any number of adults can hang back and watch over sleeping kiddos while we get to play in the water with everyone else. We always have grampa’s boat for inner tubing and cruising around the lake, so being able to do that without worrying about our tiniest fellow, that in itself is relaxing and a wonderful gift that comes with dedicated family time.
What do the kids love?
Let me rephrase that: what DON’T the kids love? They love it all. Our oldest, Oliver, he’s all about playing with his older cousins. He’s younger by at least two years, so getting to hang out with older kids (including an almost teenage niece) is pretty cool. He loves his cousins and they love him.
For Elliott, our youngest, he loves all of the attention, especially from grama and grampa. And he loves cousin time too, carefully guiding his older cousins by the hand as they explore the area. It’s just the best and you can tell that ALL of them are happy being together. We love that they love each other and that’s what family is all about.
Note: even though Chris only has one sibling, all of the cousins grew up close like our kids are now… and they all act like brothers and sisters. You can see the benefit of growing up close and having time with family.
Side note: because boating has always been the family activity, it’s become a source of camaraderie, sharing knowledge and actually passing down skills and traditions. Who knew boating could be so great for all of this?
The benefit for the adults
Oh gosh, where to begin? Being an adult is so different from being a kid. This year, the house vacation rental we had for our annual family reunion had a park in the neighborhood, so if the kids didn’t want to splash and play in the lake, there was a park to occupy them. This gave all of us adults time to rotate watching over the little monsters and just relax together instead of being on water-safety watch.
And I don’t know about everybody else, as I’m the only full time stay-at-home-parent in the group, but getting time with other adults was amazing. It takes a toll on you when you’re trying to communicate continually at a 2-4 year old level. Having conversations with other adults recharged my brain and reminded me of how grateful I need to be that I do get to stay home with the little guys.
Ultimately, us parents and grandparents benefited the most from our annual family reunion trip by getting to watch all of the kids spending time together. We’ve done this trip forever (and it was happening before I joined the family) and seeing the kids grow up together and that they’re all friends is such a reward. Hopefully this is inspiring them now for when they’re grown ups and have their own families.
I know that we’re exceptionally lucky to be a part of such an active, supportive family and that others aren’t so fortunate. Being active as a group has helped us stay connected over the years and given us so many wonderful memories. As the kids all grow up and move on (which won’t happen because they’ll live with us forever and ever and ever), I know that our annual family reunion trip will keep happening and the bond and memories will keep growing, because that’s #HowWeFamily and we love it!
Need help planning an awesome family reunion trip, here are the steps we take. Pin it and start planning some awesome family travel!