Archive for January 2012
Let’s face it – family vacations are expensive and the pressure to “have fun” and build “lifelong memories” can be intense. Family vacations are built on magical moments when everyone lets go and enjoys the moment. While you can’t create those moments, tension can and often does squelch them. I am prone to falling apart when things don’t go according to plan or bickering takes over the moment – so here are some tricks my annoyingly patient husband uses to talk me down.
1. Everything is washable (or remember Kate). I vividly remember watching a snippet of the reality show John and Kate Plus 8 where they visited DisneyWorld and Kate had a complete meltdown because the kids were eating ice cream. I NEVER wanted to be that mom – snarky and mean because of ice cream. Talk about killing the joy of the moment! Clothes and kids are washable and if the day is going to be really messy, plan for it. Pack loads of wipes, enjoy the drippy gelato near the hotel, bring along a change of clothes or pop into a local shop and buy a new shirt.
2. Forget about the money. My biggest pet peeve is to spend a small fortune on an extra special excursion only to have it ruined by whiny, unappreciative kids. My husband is quick to step in on these situations with his brand of logic a) the kids have no idea how much things cost and are not deliberately sabotaging the event and b) the only one that can ruin it for me is ME. If I relax and work with him to corral the kids (instead of pouting and making things worse), everything will turn out for the best.
3. Let things happen. Itineraries are wonderful and necessary travel tools – especially when traveling with kids. However; there is a time and place to let things slip and enjoy the moment. If you spy a local park, let the kids run off steam for 15 – 20 minutes (yes, there will be tears when you try to leave but they will quickly be forgotten – playing in the park may be thememory they bring home from the trip).
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. If there is an activity or site that is particularly important, make sure to let others know. Likewise, respect what they would like to see and do – this includes things that the kids might have a passion about.
5. Starting to lose patience? Take a minute to remove yourself from the situation. Take a bathroom break – ALONE, close you eyes for a minute or just let your spouse know you need to step away for five minutes.
Finally, a class of wine always helps when things start to fall apart!
January 24, 2012
For some reason, this ubiquitous headline always makes me stop for a glance. The latest version I perused was filled with exotic destinations and pictures of smiling model families having the time of their lives. SCUBA diving in the Maldives, skiing in Switzerland and Disney in Japan – typical family vacations, right? I love reading about the dream destinations but know that my family vacation would be nothing like those described. Where are the whining kids (I don’t want to get wet)? The runny noses? The bickering (she looked at me)?
It did get me thinking….what makes the best family vacation?
The best family vacations are not about the destination – in fact, they are as likely to happen in your own neighborhood as in an expensive theme park. They are about the precious few magical moments when it all comes together. It’s the kids being enchanted by an out-of-the way fountain or playing in a new-found park. The sweet taste of gelato when no one is worried about making a mess. The wonder at seeing Cinderella’s Castle for the first time.
Come home from a vacation remembering the magical moments and it truly was a “best family vacation.”
January 20, 2012
Comments off · Posted by jennifer in Ski Vacations
Gearing kids up to ski is no easy feat – especially the first few times you head out to the slopes. Read the ski school guidelines and they give a laundry list of required items but we have found that it is the little things that make or break the day. Here is my list of little things to remember.
1. Glove/Mitten Cats. Kudos to the Spyder company for finally designing mittens with a convenient loop snap that attaches to a loop on their jacket sleeves. If your mittens/jackets aren’t this hi-tech, your kids NEED mitten clips. I prefer the Glove Cats because the clips hold firm and they are just the right length. Why are these necessary? Little kids are always pulling off their gloves – just ask any ski instructor and they will tell you they spend half the day putting mittens back on kids. These clips prevent mittens from getting left behind. The length is important – too short and they are difficult to attach but too long and dangling mittens drag on the ground and fill with snow.
2. Good socks. It is worth the money to buy high quality padded ski socks that fit properly. Never get socks with “room to grow” that is a recipe for blisters! Also, our socks tend to shrink during the year so I buy an extra pair to open later in the ski season.
3. Labeled helmet. No one likes to dwell on their kids getting injured but when you see someone coming down on a sled with ski patrol, all helmets look remarkably similar. Label your kid’s helmet so you can easily distinguish it. My kids have a purple snake drawn in Sharpie on the top of their helmet and helmet tails (we made fish tails and cheetah tails that attach to the back goggle strap with a zip tie – comment if you are interested in instructions on how to make your own).
4. Contact information. Tuck a business card with your mobile number in at least one pocket.
What little things do you need for a successful ski day with kids?
January 12, 2012
Five Things You Should Never Leave Home Without
I have long marveled at the people that seem to have everything at their fingertips – need a tissue? They have one handy. Need a bandage? No sweat. My mom is one of those people and I always thought that, once I became a mom, it would magically happen for me as well. No such luck! Instead I still rely on mom and my handy list (of which I try to have at least a few of at any given time). Here is my list of must have items.
1. Tissues and wipes for runny noses and sticky fingers.
2. Bandages and antiseptic wipes. Character or design bandages work like magic with my kids and instantly stop tears. They also seem to arrest a meltdown – especially if it isn’t really needed. Remember, they stop meltdowns in other kids so be generous with your supply!
3. Cloth tape measure. This is handy for quick measurements and kids love to play with it. My kids have walked around many stores measuring boxes, chairs, legs, wrists, pretty much anything and everything. You can find fun animal tape measures here but, honestly, my favorite is the blue or white ones from the Container Store. A note of caution – the retraction can be fast and whip the end around towards the face – teach kids to hold the tape away from them and/or turn their head to avoid getting hit with the end.
4. Small notepad, pen and/or crayons. We use our notepad for everything from drawing pictures to playing tic tac toe to practicing math facts. Pick one with perforated pages that are easy to tear out so you can share pages with multiple kids and make sure you have enough writing tools so everyone can have their own.
5. Small toys. You don’t need a toybox in your bag but a few little cars, small animals, bendi dolls or similar items can be a lifesaver!
What are your must have items?
January 10, 2012
1. Road Trip Game: Fun for the entire family this small box will keep you busy for hours of highway miles. The 10 classic road trip games and the travel quizzes are standard road trip fare – it is the 45 conversation starter questions that can really spice things up on a long journey.
2. Hangman: Ready to step up from the paper version? There are many variations on the market but our family favorite is the wooden hangman from Melissa & Doug. It’s slim design tucks easily into the back of a seat and it’s durable construction stand the test of time and kids!
3. License Plate Game: Another travel classic that is available in a variety of formats. We keep a magnetic version in our car and always have a game going.
4. Spot It: This is a new family favorite! There is always one and only one matching symbol between any two cards – be the first to spot it and win. Perfect for backseat fun, although we play it more while waiting at restaurants.
5. Tell Tale: This award winning game involves the entire family. Use the illustrated cards to create stories in teams or all together – works for travel or as a family party conversation starter.
What are your favorite family travel games?