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

So You Wanna Help a Mother, Do Ya?

-Mothers have a tough job.

-I have never worked so hard in my life as I did as a stay-at-home-mother.

-Motherhood is underrated, undervalued, and underappreciated.

-If you added up the salaries of every job a mother does, you still wouldn’t compensate her for a day’s work.

-I know I couldn’t do it.

I’ve heard a few commiserating comments about motherhood in my day. They’re scattered here and there amongst the glares when my children scream, or the *tsk* *tsk* looks when I reprimand the screaming, or the slight lift of nose-in-air as they walk by with their dressed and not-brawling children.

When I’ve had brain and time to think, however, I can’t help but wonder: if motherhood is so great, why don’t you do it? You could all support it, at least.

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Instead, I feel abandoned. I feel I sit in the muddy gutter of life with my little, half-me guttersnipes and get shown exactly what the negative voice inside says:

-Your children are monsters, and it’s because of you.

-The house is a mess; guess who gets to clean it forevermore?

-Don’t raise your kids this waythat way, or -for heaven’s sake!- that other way or you will screw up their entire future.

-Besides raising decent humans, keeping floors spotless, maintaining bills, finding everyone’s lost pants, and feeding the local inhabitants; you must also be cheerful, inspirational, encouraging, loving, and a whole person.

-If you are sad and depressed, it’s because you simply don’t believe in you.

Some parents (again, with brain and time to think) lobby for government support to fill the gaps. They ask for extended maternity leaves, an in-home nanny, free preschool, and childcare centers at workplaces. That’s all well and good and job-saving, but is not the real answer.

The real answer is always more difficult. It’s not a bill to pass nor a wad of money to throw. I believe the answer is a need for actual, hands-on, real-life support.

Think about my idea in relation to other problems that don’t go away with a friendly comment; like needing help with moving house, requiring an organ donation, or being trapped beneath a fallen timber at a logging camp. Does it help that poor lumberjack for his workmates to pass by, smile in commiseration, and say, “Been there, mate. Bit of a rough spot, eh?,” and keep walking?

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In the same way, it does little to tell a mother who is struggling to restrain her toddler at the grocery store that, “Mothers have a tough job.” I think she’s aware of it at that point.

I don’t mean to make anyone feel too shy to speak up at all. Instead, I suggest alternate reactions based on what a few, kind souls have actually done for me:

If commenting is your thing; try what an older couple did. A grandmotherly woman and her husband approached me in the grocery store and said, “You are a wonderful mother. You may not feel like it some days, but I know it and I know your boys know it.”

Another time, a fellow mom came up to me in the parking lot while I was putting children and groceries into the car. “Can I take your shopping cart for you?” she asked. Receiving a nod since I couldn’t manage much else, she smiled and pushed hers and mine over to the return.

Twice now when we were on vacation, an older man at the breakfast table near ours said something like, “What fine boys you are! I’ll bet you help your mom out, don’t you?” Then, he dug into his wallet and handed each of my boys a silver dollar.

Not only have these behaviors actually improved my spirits and helped me to feel supported, they have been examples to my children. There’s an old adage that it takes a village to raise a child; one that many people look over in these technological times. Thing is, that adage is still true. As much as I try to micromanage my children’s behavior, they simply do not listen to only me. Sometimes they do not listen to me at all.

Occasionally a boy will come home, bursting with a lesson taught at school, on fire with how it’s changed his thinking. It’s a lesson I’ve tried to hammer into his head before -but do I resent the teacher for it? A bit. Still, it’s more than worth biting my tongue because my son learned it.

If you want to support a mother, do so. Oftentimes we parents are hesitant to receive help because of child-molester fears or judging-my-parenting fears. Don’t worry; start small. Work on turning the judgy face into a sincere smile. Think about offering a hand or an honest compliment. Remember your own childhood or your own children.

And, if you’re feeling really generous, I’m open for that in-home nanny or wad of cash as well.

 

Photo Credits:
Sharon McCutcheon
Luz Fuertes
Markus Spiske

A Day in the Life

Some days my nails keep breaking,
As I lose hair strand by strand;
And the vitamins I’m taking
Can’t be opened just by hand.

Sometimes I sweep and mop the tile,
Get dinner on the table,
Then ruefully watch ev’ry child
Drop as much as he is able.

Somehow the same pants surface
Ev’ry time I sort the clothes.
They’ve yet to be in service,
But round and round they goes.

Somewhere beyond the drywall
There’s life; there’s something more:
There are shining floors and people.
I run away! -to the grocery store.

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Originally posted at chelseaannowens.com.

 

Photo Credit:
Fikri Rasyid