I have to admit, mentioning „conference“, „family“ and „great experience“ in one sentence is a bold statement.
Despite the fact that some say „Going to a conference is work and you don‘t take your kids to work.“, I believe its possible and sometimes neccessary.
The amount of blessings you can get out of it as a couple and family can be enormous. You don‘t want to miss out on all inspiration, encouragement and advice that getting away and spending some time with God and friends can provide for you.
Maybe you’re thinking: „I do agree but how can it work without becoming too much of a strain for everyone?“
Recently I took my whole family six hours down to Mainz where we‘ve spent almost a week combining vacation and advanced training. It’s been a fantastic week for all of us.
This is what I would recommend:
1) Take your own car
Of course, if you‘re flying in, this doesn’t really apply. However, even then you might be better off getting a car by either renting or borrowing one.
The flexibility of not being tied to a schedule of being picked up and dropped off will give you a whole lot of freedom.
In addition: No car seats to get in and out (if you got small children) and your kids might be more relaxed in a car that‘s familiar to them.
2) Find an accomodation that works for you
This time we‘ve stayed at an airBnB outside the city. This added quite a bit of driving to our daily program but we had heaps of space, no Hotel guests next door (who weren‘t happy about a bunch of lively kids) and all of this for quite a good price.
In addition we made sure the house was suitable and furnished for a familiy. The playground within walking distance was a benefit as well.
3) Adjust your expectations
This might be the most important thing. And don‘t get me wrong: „Adjusting“ your expectations doesn‘t equals „bringing them down“.
I‘ve had my kids with me at several other events (including a three month sabbatical overseas). It‘s a good thing to do but it’s just NOT the same as if you go on your own.
You need to relax. Your kids need your attention.
Take time to drop them off at the kids program. If they‘re not happy with you attending the main session, stay there. Just connect with other parents.
Take turns with making sure your little ones are having a good time too.
We‘ve even had them going to bed at their normal time. One of us just stayed at „home“ with them and the other one went back to conference.
Doing some fun stuff (indoor playground, swimming pool, ice cream, ...) outside the conference schedule can be a good idea too. Dare to spend some money and create some good memories.
How do your expectations with family and conference look like?