Staying up all night driving to North Carolina gave me lots of time to philosophize about the wonders of vacation. It got me thinking of how I start vacation staying awake for 36 hours (something I never do in my normal life if I can help it) and then I began to ponder the larger subject of how vacation gives us the opportunity to relax and “be different” from our non-vacation selves.
I have a number of posts that reference the importance of routines, structure, and consistency for kids — but as we all know, some rules have exceptions. Not, of course, the fundamental individual and family rules that define morals,integrity, and safety, but the ones the that make things go smoothly from day to day.
Whether you are away from home, or on a “stay-cation”, vacation is the perfect time to cut your kids some slack. One very familiar vacation perk is “staying up late.” But what about ice cream for breakfast? Taking a vacation from making your bed every day? Or, letting your kids decide what to have for dinner and then helping them shop for it and make it. Let’s be honest, who has time for that during a regular work week?
This post is really about you though. Of course you’ve thought about bending the rules for your kids while on vacation. It is a break for parents not to have to nag, nag, nag, right? But what I’m talking about here is letting yourself be different on vacation. Kids are well-aware how parents enforce the rules, but they are not typically mindful about the fact that Mom and Dad follow rules as well.
So while on vacation think very, very seriously about enjoying yourself. What do you want to do? Try? NOT do?
My kids will tell you they have seen me scared at least twice — once, 20 years ago, in a propellor plane over the Outer Banks, and only slightly more recently, while paragliding with my son over Turks and Caicos while the 14 year old in charge of our lives drove the motorboat 300 or 400 feet below… (I know, what were we thinking!) My kids have also seen me humbled — trying to learn to surf at age 50. (I gave up that dream BTW.) Although, at age 56 I successfully went paddle boarding with my daughter for the first time!
Letting our kids see us have fun, be scared, be silly, try something new and succeed (or fail) — or, however different we might be on vacation — allows them to see us in a new light. It gives them memories about Mom (or Dad) that help them broaden their understanding of who their parents are, but in a safe “not real” and short-term arena. When vacation is over, with routines and rules firmly in place, kids resume normality with their reliable, boring parents. But, to be sure, they will re-live all sorts of vacation memories including that time mom…
You fill in the blank here, and let me know!
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