What I Learned on My Family Vacation...by The BadAssMama

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The BadAssMama Family Travel-o-Rama has finally come to a close. Six days, 7 states, several kid-friendly venues and family giggles later we are back at BadAssMama Central and I'm feeling equal parts exhaustion, elation and enlightenment. Exhaustion after a 500+ mile road trip with two occasionally-cooperative preschoolers and an AWESOME husband (he drove the whole way - thanks, Babe!). Elated by the fact that I not only survived but actually enjoyed the majority of the 10 day stretch of 24-7 mama duty. And enlightened by the lessons I learned by trying to view our family vacation through the eyes of my children.

So, in honor of the millions of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essays to be written by kids across the globe over the next several weeks, I bring you a list of what I learned on our family vacation:

Keep it simple. It's incredible how little it takes to amuse my kids. After the untold hundreds of dollars we've spent on educational toys, learning electronics, visual aids and what-not, who would have known that all it takes is a box to provide literally DAYS of fun? While Angel traveled with a "learning puppy" from Fisher Price for his first 3 years of life, Victor's travel companion on this family road trip was a simple box. He took that damned thing EVERYWHERE. Any time we left the hotel, Victor would ask, "Can I bring my box?" Big brother was forbidden from touching said box, and whenever Victor didn't know its EXACT location, mayhem would ensue. Sometimes he would just carry it around with a big grin on his face. He would spend what seemed like hours filling it with anything he could find (toy cars, spoons, Cheerios, napkins), dumping it out on the floor only to fill it up again.

Yelling is fun. After observing hundreds of kids at the water park, hotel lobby, children's museum, various restaurants and tourist attractions I found one universal truth. Kids are LOUD. And they seem to be at their happiest doing whatever it is that they are doing while screaming at the top of their lungs. They talk loud, sing loud, laugh loud, ask questions loud. When are they at their loudest? When they're having the most fun. Sometimes, the simple act of yelling alone brought my kids more joy than the 2 days at Sesame Place combined...

Nap in the middle of the day. There is nothing more beautiful, more perfect, more true than a sleeping baby on a summer afternoon. Almost every day of our trip, Victor would fall asleep like clockwork for a glorious siesta around noon. Often before lunch, and always after a rousing morning of toddler shenanigans. Quite simply, nothing is better than a nice nap after a morning of fun in the sun...

Ask questions. LOTS of questions. I think that Angel may have learned more on this vacation than through the countless hours of preschool-and-kindergarten-readiness-books that we've been through over the past 18 months. We didn't set aside "homework time" or go out of our way to make the trip overtly educational. For once, we let him ask questions to his little heart's content. And we answered them, ALL of them, to the best of our ability. He asked questions about railroads and babies and storm clouds and tractor trailers. Anything and everything that popped into his head. Each answer was invariably followed by a seemingly endless stream of "Why?" responses. And he loved every minute of it.

Play every day. I'm almost embarrassed to write this, but I realize that I played with my kids more in the past 10 days than I probably have in their entire young lives. Maybe it was the fact that I had no train to catch, meetings to run, meals to prepare or house to clean, but I actually found a way to play with my kids for big chunks of time each day. We would dance, sing silly songs, have races, make up words. Nothing made me happier than to see their little faces light up, and hear their crazy laughter echo down the hall. Now, don't get me wrong. We had our fair share of tantrums and time outs. But we played every day. And it was awesome!

Quantity over quality. I used to think that to be a good mom, I had to make the most out of every second that I spent with my kids. Whether it be through structured activities, planned outings or age-appropriate events, I wanted to make sure that my kids had plenty of quality time with The BadAssMama. Well, after 10 days of solid family time, I've learned that the times my kids seemed to have the most fun were in the hotel room, rolling around on the floor - or walking through the lobby holding hands. Kids want big-honking-chunks of unstructured time just to BE with their family. They could care less about the venue. They just want YOU.

The last, and most impactful lesson from our trip was that it's not just me. At every meal, entry gate, hotel lobby and ride queue, I saw parents and kids - just like us - saying the same things ("Don't put that in your mouth! Don't touch that! We will turn around and go right back home!), with the same look of exasperation-tinged-wonder that I find spread across my face every waking moment. My kids aren't crazy - ALL kids are nuts! I'm not the only mom at the end of her rope. We're all hanging on for dear life.

And loving every minute of it...well, at least most of them.
Rachel Smith Thomas said...

Extremely beautiful love this big cousin you are one of a kind kiss the babies for me and keep up the good work
Rachel

Andrew said...

It's the most important thing that we have spend plenty time with our kids..so nice to see kids enjoying and learn.

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