|One can never see "The Fall of Atlantis" at Caesar's Palace too many times...|
Last week was a crazy week. I took most of the week off, stopping only briefly to let you know I’d be gone and to introduce you to my friend, Shannon, who was kind enough to write a guest post for me for the “In Celebration of Mothers” series. My timing was good because Shannon and her husband, Tobin, are currently en route to Ghana to FINALLY meet their little boy (yay!). While they won’t be able to bring him home this trip (Ghana requires two trips for International adoptions), they will at least be able to spend time snuggling and cuddling him and getting to know each other in between rushing around to complete the necessary documents for finalizing their adoption. So, keep them in mind, if you will, over the coming weeks. The sooner they get that little guy home, the better.
We spent last week in Las Vegas with several members of our family. In between trips to the golf course, the pool, the shops, and the casinos, I realized how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to travel with my kids. I also realized that many people are apprehensive about traveling with their children. In light of this, I thought I’d share some tips about how to have a successful vacation with your children (even if you DON’T go to Disney World).
1. If possible (and your children are very young), bring a sitter along with you. We often brought one of our regular sitters with us when our children were younger in order to provide Charlie and me an opportunity to enjoy a quiet meal, show, or even just a nap without needing to worry about entertaining the kids. I know this is a luxury, but it doesn’t have to be as extravagant as it sounds. Typically we only took vacations when school was not in session, so most of our babysitters were available. Also, I considered room and board, travel expenses, and tickets to whatever activity the family attended payment enough for babysitting services. I rarely paid above this and my sitters were perfectly content with this arrangement. Make sure you are clear about how you will compensate your sitter and what your expectations are for them well before you leave on your trip. You may find this more economical than leaving the kids behind with a sitter and having to provide entertainment for them at home while you’re gone. Plus, your kids will benefit from exploring new places.
2. Don’t just stick to the “family” restaurants. Don’t get me wrong – my kids have had their share of chicken strips and mac & cheese – but they also know how to order steak, seafood, and all sorts of International cuisines at a restaurant. We let them order from the children’s menu, but allowed them the opportunity to sample from our plates when we ate out. As a result, they are not “picky” eaters, and restaurant servers often marvel at their sophisticated palettes. Additionally, they have (mostly) good table manners, something I was quite proud of last week when we ate in large groups with my family.
3. Teach them how to pack for themselves. As soon as they could read, we made lists for them to follow when packing their own suitcases. THIS IS A LIFE SAVER, PEOPLE!!! Don’t leave anything off – remind them about toiletries, pajamas, and special stuffed animals that will keep them comfortable away from home.
4. Electronics are not evil when you are stuck in a car, plane, or train for several hours. Portable DVD players, PSP’s, IPods, and ebooks are all items that have proven useful over the years. They don’t all own each electronic item individually, but they have learned to share these items with each other to help pass the time when they are traveling from place to place. Books, playing cards, crayons and coloring books, and action figures are also examples of the less expensive items they brought along to occupy themselves while in transit.
5. This is the most important suggestion: relax and enjoy. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true – your kids are only young once. Take them with you from time-to-time. Introduce them to the world around you and all its wonders. And don’t forget to let your hair down and have fun with them. Vacations provide the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. Take advantage of the break from housework, cooking, laundry, and work and let your kids see you play for a change. They need to see this side of your personality, and you need the chance to unwind and focus on enjoying your life and your family so that when you return to the daily grind you do so with renewed energy and a lighter heart.
For more insight on the benefits of traveling with your kids, please visit this recent post by Kat on Jack Straw Lane. She and her husband have braved many exotic locales with kids in tow, and, as a result, have even more great stories to tell! So, next time you’re debating on whether or not to bring the kids with you on your trip, go ahead and let them tag along. You may surprise yourself at how much you all enjoy each other’s company….