Dear Parents,

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Image by RCompass.

Image by RCompass.

Here are the top 10 things I learned on a recent vacation with a nine year old. These are quick reminders for parents of simple things that can be done while traveling but also at home and after work!

  1. Power Down: I find that I text a lot at night to stay connected with my friends. Although its not as time consuming as a phone conversation-it is definitely distracting.  The first day of our trip, I was returning a text to my cousin who was buying tickets to a concert for us when I noticed that my son visibly slouched in his seat with disappointment.  He wanted my time (one-on-one). I text my cousin back and explained that I was going on vacation and would get back to her in a few days. And to my son, I promised to power off my phone for the rest of the trip.
  2. Digital Revolution: Speaking of digital technology; When I was younger my mom gave me my first camera which used the titty-bitty 110 film. Every photo cost money to develop whether good, bad or ugly. Thanks to digital cameras, my son (a budding photographer) was able to click freely and creatively.  Which meant that I was able to save big bucks knowing that we had the freedom to delete and then print the best of the best.
  3. Big Kid: Let your hair down and don’t be afraid to channel your youthful spirit. Laugh at yourself and get silly at unexpected moments. It will lighten everyone’s mood and maybe even allow your kid(s) to see you in a whole new light.
  4. Follow the Leader: We often try to navigate and take control of situations (its a parental survival skill). Consider letting your kid(s) take the lead. They instinctively want to show off for their parents (it gives them a sense of approval). You might be surprised and proud of what they do.
  5. Game on: Think back to when you were young playing with friends, cousins, siblings, or neighbors-almost anything can be turned into a game by simply scoring, counting, comparing and/or tallying. Competition still is a great motivator for most any child (especially boys).  Keep it safe, clean and rewarding!
  6. Get Out: Even if your pillow (or book) seems to be calling you, take time to interact with your child. It isn’t enough to physically be next to each other. Connect in a real way. I find that even though the thought of another hike, tour or bike run is exhausting; once I have committed to it, I almost always find it pleasurable.
  7. Clean Up Crew: Even though you are on vacation, you will undoubtedly still need a clean-up crew. Simply keep a small bottle of water and a few sheets of paper towels (wipes or napkins) with you at all times. You will be surprised how often they will come in handy. Now I know why my parent’s glove compartments were always filled with leftover *(unused) take-out napkins.
  8. Navigator: Every pilot could use a copilot (or two).  Take the time to teach your child how to read maps and work a compass. Back seat driving can be a good thing. Note: We stayed in a small town in a valley where even my Android didn’t work anyway-it was fun to roll old school.
  9. Reflection: It takes time to absorb and reflect our experiences. I still remember moments from my first family vacation almost 20 years ago. You might be surprised random thoughts that your child will share day, months or years after your trip(s).
  10. Present Day:  Children have the gift of living in the present. They aren’t bogged down by the past or worried about the future. Everything is real-time. Try to live in the moment with them. Theses days seem to cruise by:-)

And one to grow on….11. There is always room for ice cream (need I say more). Tip:For a special twist on this favorite we bought ice cream flavored Jelly Bellies-just to mix things up!

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