10 Tricks for When You’re Crazy Enough to Vacation with Kids

If you’re planning on a vacation with kids, don’t.

If you’re still reading this, it may be too late. You may have already scheduled the thing, or are driving or flying to your destination and are reading this to block out the nearby shouting.

I’m sorry. I feel for you.

Fortunately for you (and me), we live in the age of technology. Plugging a child into a device like a robot buys you hours of uninterrupted time, time they would have spent poking each other and using their imaginations and such.

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Yeah; I’m not in favor of devices for each kid. I’ll go into that more later.

For now, I wanted to recommend some tips once you all arrive at the family vacation spot.

  1. Have a plan. Winging it is a terrible idea, unless your children are adults. Even then, there’s going to be a lot of, “I dunno; what do you wanna do?” questions, while you fume at them for doing what they could have done at home.
  2. If you’re brave, have the kids be part of the planning process. Always give them a monetary limit, but freedom of choice will make them feel more involved and guilt them into trying to enjoy what they chose.
  3. Get outside and do something you couldn’t at home. I mean, why did you even leave your house and its area?
  4. Get outside and do something you could do at home, like going to a movie or a restaurant. You’re on vacation, so label it as a ‘special activity.’
  5. Eat out a few times but don’t go crazy. Costs add up quickly with children, especially considering how often they don’t eat their $10 kids meals.
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  6. Go to lots of free places; like parks, hikes, exhibits, tours, and drives.
  7. Ask other people who have been to that vacation spot what was fun, and what was not.
  8. Try to pack what you need. If you didn’t, most places have a Wal-Mart.
  9. Make watching hours of TV or tablet time part of your schedule, then you won’t resent their doing it so much.
  10. Consider babysitter services where you’re going so at least some of the time counts as a vacation for parents, too.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by Sally Wynn from Pixabay
Tim Gouw
Image by Andrea Pangilinan from Pixabay

Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?

Not too long ago, I had a side job. It entailed scouring the internet for pictures of birthday parties, home décor, and craft how-to’s; stealing copying those pictures; and writing about them using keywords and sponsored links.

Before I had that job, I didn’t have a Pinterest account. I didn’t have an Instagram account. And, honestly, I didn’t even have a blogging account.

Before The Job I planned birthday parties for the sole intent of celebrating someone’s birth. I had little that was superfluous for decorating. And I hadn’t ever made a cardboard tombstone or flocked a Christmas tree.

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After nine months of writing the articles, therefore, I knew a lot more about the back-alley world of Pinterest. I knew that there were at least “11 Classroom Games for Room Mothers,” that I could look up “10 Minecraft Party Ideas,” and that there were “12 Ways to Pumpkin-Up Your Porch.” (That last title was my idea.)

And I felt a bit disturbed.

Were all the moms out there really doing birthday parties like that, or houses?

What I’ve seen in real life confirms my fears. Joanna Gaines is all over magazines, Target, and my neighbors’ houses. Party favors, games, and backdrops for one-year-olds follow a coordinated theme. I scrolled through a thread on TwoFacebook recently about installing pallet board walls, headboards, or ceilings. Women in my area show up to parties in low boots, tight pants, front-tucked-in shirts, and long-curled hair; carrying magazine-ready plates of organic foods and centerpieces that would shame Martha Stewart -for an afternoon lunch.

Over-the-top, much?

I know how lovely a well-planned party looks; how much creativity cred a mom can get from other moms for sticking to a theme. I’ve seen the white sitting rooms, silver candlesticks, and fur rugs that make a house look like a family never even breathed in it.

Yes; it’s a nice look.

No; it’s not worth it.

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Why? Because we have to live in a house. We have to raise our children to be balanced and not assume perfection. We need to be present more than give lots of presents. It is possible.

The reason I have a birthday party is not to show off.

The reason I decorate my house is so the kids can look forward to a holiday and so the house itself feels dressier.

The reason I run through a how-to is so that I can get the battery changed in the car without electrocuting myself. If I read a crafting walkthrough, it’s so that I can make an awesomely scary ghost with the kids.

Parents have enough on their plates without worrying about plating the food. They have enough mess to clean without trying to get handprints onto paper plates or shiplap onto walls. Do we really need to make parenting more difficult?

No.

So, don’t feel guilty with a Wal-mart cake and singing. Don’t sigh over mismatched furniture. Don’t worry that you can’t make an American flag out of a pallet.

You just might be human. Plus, your little humans will learn to be reasonable, too.

 

Photo Credits:
Photo by Patricia Prudente on Unsplash
Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash
Photo by Hedy Yin on Unsplash

Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Price Tag

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My parents maintained that Santa Claus came each year when my siblings and I were young. We wrote letters to him and enjoyed opening surprise presents that magically appeared between the time we finally got to sleep Christmas Eve and the time my lazy parents finally crawled out of bed Christmas morning.

The Christmas Spirit was, to me, that happy surprise. I knew I wanted to share the feeling with my children.

“Time to write a letter to Santa,” I told my oldest when he was able to understand asking and letter-writing. Together, we crafted a sweet request for basic toys and holiday candy. His eyes lit up at “wights!” and “pwesents!”

Not many years later, he asked, “How much (money) do we get from Santa for Christmas?” He’d figured certain things out early on but was bright enough and kind enough to keep up appearances for his younger brothers.

Still…. he also cottoned on to the idea of a max out-of-pocket to aim for as well. I didn’t love it.

Round about the third year of all of them writing a list of presents that looked closer to an Amazon order, I interceded. “I don’t like this method at all! It’s like a shopping spree, an itemized request, or a ransom note!” (The last comment being motivated by my third threatening to light the fire under Santa if he should fail to bring the robot he wanted.)

They, in turn, were confused. Christmas was a time that I told them Santa would bring about $X in presents and they enjoyed getting as close to that figure as possible. What saw was them mentally check off each item they opened Christmas morning. Once or twice, the scene was even like that of Dudley Dursley’s fit when he only had 36 presents instead of 37.

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I saw no magic.

All the commercialism of Christmas sours me by July anyway, but watching my darlings murder my happy surprise moment made me want to toss the lot and have them serve up soup over at the homeless shelter.

A neighbor of mine expressed a similar sentiment. Hers, being older, didn’t enjoy the benefit of Santa anymore anyway, so she began a more frugal, service-driven Christmas. I couldn’t do the same, but knew I was hating the holiday and I didn’t want to.

Last year, I told my darling children they could make a generalized list and what they got they got. I told them I was getting them each one surprise present from parents, and one asked-for gift of $X.

This year, I’m thinking of the same. After toy commercials and Wal-Mart ads, however, that soup kitchen is looking mighty tempting.

I’m curious what others’ experiences are, and how they’ve handled it. Do your children turn into itemized gluttons December the 25th? How do you Christmas?

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Garbage Bag Vampire

Today is the day I realized that Halloween is next week. NEXT WEEK!!

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Given my more lax (AKA lazy) approach to parenting lately, we don’t exactly have costumes picked out for everyone. My boys have talked about it, of course, but haven’t settled on anything. Our conversations have been more like:

Boy: I think I’ll be a knight.

Me: Well, you’re welcome to what we have.

Boy: Hmmm. Maybe I’ll be a ghost.

Me: There might be a clean sheet. Go for it.

While we were watching Casper as a family, I laughed at the father suggesting his daughter wrap up in tin foil and go as a leftover. Frankly, we’re at about that point. It’s probably a sign of how tired and laid-back (AKA lazy) I’ve gotten lately that I think, They can just go out in jeans and sweatshirts and our neighbors will still give them candy.

Heck, the kids will be warmer that way.

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Besides actually needing to do work and feeling burned-out at that idea, I feel averse to yet another holiday that is picking my pockets for every last penny. An event that used to have old ladies handing out inedible peanut butter taffies to kids in toilet paper has morphed into full-on haunted houses, king size candy bars, and working Transformer costumes.

My husband’s childhood go-to was throwing a black garbage bag over his shoulders, digging out the previous year’s fake teeth, and going as a vampire.

Those were simpler times; times when society knew expensive costumes weren’t worth $60. Times when maybe the old lady with the taffies also gave out delicious scones and knew your name and where you lived. Times when families went out together and had a good time.

This year laziness (AKA -oh, I finally owned it) may just be the motivation I need to make the better choice: creativity and fun instead of store-bought and expensive.

Maybe all the boys will agree to be ghosts.