It has been almost a month that we set out on living my dream of spending the summer in Denver. And, for the most part–and memory will definitely increase that “most part” to THE WHOLE MONTH–it has been great. But, I also feel like I’ve learned some important truths about traveling with children that I’d like to share with you.
1. Your adventure starts as soon as you close your front door. A former teacher in the district where I taught had this great class for teachers called ADVENTURE TRAVEL FOR TEACHERS. The number one rule to adventure travel: THE ADVENTURE STARTS AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE YOUR FRONT DOOR. No where does this apply more than traveling with children because there have been multiple occasion we’ve not even left the driveway when something happens. So, if you may reach the stop sign of your street and the baby has a blow-out. . .or your preschooler already asks, “Are we there yet?!” That is part of your adventure– embrace it.
2. THIS TRIP IS BORING AND STUPID! At some point your child(ren) will announce in their best whiney voice that this trip is boring and stupid and a waste of their time. They will loudly protest that they miss their friends and that they want to go home–NOW! And you know what? They are right. Parts of the trip will be boring and stupid and home will seem like mecca. But. . .and this is sooo hard. . .don’t react. I guarantee that five minutes something will happen to change their tune. And, it won’t be this amazing event or activity. . .it might just be that the next door neighbor’s cat, Phoenix, will jump on to the porch of the house you are renting and everyone will scream THERE’S PHOENIX! and totally be enamored with the one thing their parents refuse to get them at home: a cat. (I’m just giving of hypothetical possibility. . .:)
The point is this: Trips ebb and flow. And emotions do, too. As well as levels of hunger and the need for more sleep. Flow with the waves. . .don’t fight the current because it’ll change and suddenly your children will be having the BEST TIME EVER! even though they might not say it like that.
3. Pack Light. It is amazing how much stuff from home we DON’T NEED. Literally we should all have a moment in life where we pack for a trip in one plastic tub and just start over our lives somewhere else with whatever is in our tub. We probably brought 1% of the stuff that we have from our house in San Antonio. . .admittedly we needed a Uhaul to bring that stuff. . .but here’s the rub: we really haven’t missed anything. When you travel light. . .you are not being managed by your stuff. You don’t have to organize, sort, pick up, find a place to store a lot of things. Everything is quicker and easier when you have less stuff. . .
4. . . .except getting from point A to point B. Doesn’t matter how much stuff you have, there is nothing easy or timely about getting seven people in a car to go somewhere. And no matter how much lead time. . .or how organized or prepared I am. . .someone always has to. . .poop. I can’t argue against this need or rush it. . .and so we are always late. The thing is. . .it is vacation and you are traveling with children and poop–or countless other things–are going to happen. I’m learning not to rush us to or through things. We will get there when we get there. Keep repeating to yourself, “This is part of traveling. . .this is part of traveling.”
5. Balance the fun. My idea of fun and my kids’ ideas of fun are different. Accept it. But fun doesn’t have to be all kid centered. The best day of the trip for the boys was going to a place called Dart Warz where they shot Nerf Guns at each other and strangers for two hours. They loved it! My favorite activity was biking around town. Luke and Will joined me on the bike ride and they LOVED IT TOO. Actually, I think they also loved watching me do something that I enjoy and participating with me. Plus it gave them a sense of accomplishment knowing that they could actually get around a city on just their bikes! I’m willing to bet that in the long run, biking with mom will outlast the Nerf gun war in terms of long term memory.
6. Do not compare vacations with your friends. Just don’t. Did you have a good time? Great. End of story.
7. You take your circus with you. The homily today at church was the need to “vacate” on vacations. To leave something. To get away. Okay. . .it was hard for me not to smirk a little through the homily because if you’re a mom. . .you ain’t leaving nothing when you vacation. You still have little people to feed (at least three times a day) and laundry, and the bedtime routine that at the end of a busy day with cranky, tired children is like parental Armageddon. Sure, you can unplug the computer and phone and video games. Sure, you can try not schedule your vacation from dawn to dusk with activities. . .but there is no way you are vacating providing for the basic (and sometimes never ending) needs of your children. Plus, do they bicker and fight at home? Then, guess what? That comes on vacation, too. It just does.
The ULTIMATE TRUTH: Like labor pains. . .these truths will fade and you’ll go on vacation next year with the same sense of hope and anticipation and naivete that you began this trip. You will think: everyone is a year old and more rationale and this will be all good.
The ultimate truth is that all of this makes the memories. And some of the most frustrating and annoying and “I can’t stand this any longer” moments of our trip have become really funny stories that we will tell and embellish and retell for years to come.
Knowing this final truth, we’ve already started making plans for this incredible trip next summer. . .it’ll be great. . .no really. . .