Well, my friends, it was only 4 days but it felt like so much longer. We took the kids to Vancouver last summer for an extra-long weekend. I don't know what goes through my head when I plan a family trip. It always seems like a good idea at the time. Maybe I am imagining it with some fictional children who don't exist. You know, kids who like adventure, are excited about seeing new things... enjoy their family. For the record, that does not describe my children.
So, here is how it went down. I planned a relaxing family time in a beautiful, seaside city, and I spent the entire weekend begging, bribing and bullying my children to get out and do things and enjoy themselves and not end up in the hospital. "You can watch the Star Wars marathon on Spike another time. We have all the movies at home." "Please don't ask me for any more toys or candy. We are here to see things, too." "Don't climb that. Sit down. Get off the road!!!"
Oh yeah. It was relaxing.
The problem is very likely that I allowed myself to have expectations, which I know is not a good idea. I always enjoy things more when I don't think about how it is going to go. But the question crosses my mind every time we take the kids somewhere. Do children really need vacations? They do, absolutely, need breaks from school and activities and lessons. They need time to just hang out, play, be kids. But that doesn't really mean they need to travel.
I do see the benefits of travel for children. New experiences, learning about the world, getting out of their comfort zone. I imagine that children who have had some traveling experiences grow up with a more rounded view of the world, understanding differences and accepting change more easily. And honestly, I like the idea of showing my kids things and places they have not seen before.
However, I am not sure it is worth the struggle. As I go through the events of the weekend in my mind, every single one has an argument attached to it. They were moody, and they were stubborn, and they did not feel the need to cooperate. To tell you the truth, that may describe my state of mind, as well. Maybe that is the key to the whole thing. Maybe a vacation for the kids cannot coincide with a vacation for the parents. Maybe we have completely different needs when it comes to travel.
They wanted to stay in the hotel, watch TV, play video games and order food in. We wanted to explore the city, stroll the parks and eat out. They needed us to work hard to get them out, exploring and experiencing. We needed a few days without having to work so hard. I may have it figured out. Next time I plan a kid-friendly trip, I must remember that it will be work for me, to benefit my children. Next time I need a vacation, I must leave the kids at home. I will need you to remind me.