Sunday, September 21, 2014

Surviving the Vacation

There is always a sense after a family vacation that we, the parents, actually need a vacation of our own to recover from the previous one. Thankfully, we've gotten more seasoned at travelling with JED and JED have become older, so it is a little bit easier. There is less of a compulsion to drop them off at an orphanage and jet off to the Maldives.

But we also do try to make it a point to make it easier on ourselves.

1. We rent self-service apartments or houses.
This meant we didn't have to bring enough clothes to last the duration of our vacation. Travelling light becomes important especially when flights land at odd hours and we have to wrestle sleeping children as well as luggage and car seats [thankfully, that (car seats) should stop being a problem soon!]

It also meant we were able to cook and not need to subject ourselves to ridiculously priced restaurant food. Plus the nutrition conscious nut in me felt better knowing what JED actually put away into their bodies. People find this troublesome and it could be. But it's was much cheaper, we didn't have to wrestle with cranky children back into the car and we didn't have to worry about them making a scene in a public place; all of which could have been even more stress inducing.


2. Not be ambitious.

We did not pack our itinerary at all. It was a ' one thing a day' type of vacation. If we were going to the beach, we would just go to the beach. The Kids being kids took a long time to move and there was always toileting, feeding and stopping for no reason to be done. Plus the kids got tired after a bit. Cranky kids meant difficult kids. So in the words of our travelling partners, where ever we went, however far we intended to travel, we would to take into consideration time back and most of the time, that meant the 'exercise cut' (using an NS term) time was usually about 3 pm so that we could get back in time to start dinner, get the kids bathed and ready for bed without too much hysterics. 

3. Keeping them occupied. 

By this, I don't mean gadgets though it did get inevitable at times. A 5 hour flight with no in flight entertainment meant pulling out entertainment stops of our own. By the 5th hour, I wanted to just sit and read a bit so we gave them the gadgets for the landing. This was also to distract them from the ear popping pressure of descent. 

Anyway, we used some of the luggage space we saved from bringing clothes to bring all sorts of distractions. Games, play dough, books, puzzles and Jordan's rainbow loom set. We set writing tasks for the twins to do in the mornings before the day started. So they would sit down and write about their day before and what they wanted to do in the day to come. By the middle of the vacation, they were used to doing that and that would be the time I would use to get breakfast for them ready.

The rest of the time, they just mucked about with each other and came up with their own games. So even though I had to be up when they were up, I could pretty much sit and read my book while they "parted the Red Sea" and kicked an odd shaped ball (a footie ball) around in the garden at the back.

4. Make them accountable for one another.
It wasn't just about making the older two look after Muffin. It was about everyone looking after everyone else. When they crossed the road, they had to be holding onto someone else's hand. If they ran off, they had to look back to see where everyone else was. If someone fell, they had to help pick the child up and someone needed to come and tell us. That meant, everyone had to keep an eye out on everyone else. Even Muffin knew to look out for his siblings and his friends and they were often a gaggle of wandering children, the operative term here being 'gaggle'. While not fool-proof, it meant that we didn't have to worry as much about where everyone was at any given time, even if we were in a supermarket.

5. Find the playgrounds.

At this age, the favourite things for JED to do were to go to the beach or the playground. So we found playgrounds for them. If in Perth and you are headed south, head to Donnybrook, the apple capital of Western Australia. It's home to the Donnybrook Apple Fun Park, the biggest free playground in Australia. All the kids loved it and we went back 3 days in a row and they never tired of it. Because we were on vacation and regular Aussie school terms were still in session, the playgrounds were empty. They had the run of the place and keeping an eye out for them was relatively easy.

I would have lain in the sun and taken a nap if I wasn't so fascinated by how much fun they were having and what they were doing on the apparatus. 

And even when we didn't feel like driving to the Fun Park, we were flanked by parks and playgrounds all over. So every day, all the kids went to a new playground. They relished the wood chip playgrounds and the open fields where they could tumble and roll around. 

By the end of it, they were wind-blown, hungry and ready to call it a day. For most days, this was how our days would end. 

No real big secrets but just the little things that made it a little bit easier for the kids and by extension us. It was by no means peaceful and it didn't mean that I didn't lose my cool with them or yell at them. But it did mean that the flashes of annoyances passed more quickly and there weren't periods of extreme and extended stress. And that meant, relatively speaking, we managed to have quite a bit of fun as well. 


Post a Comment