Thursday, March 29, 2007

How to keep kiddies entertained whilst on family vacation

I was asked by Kathie what it took to have a family vacation go smoothly.

Here is when I point and laugh at Kathie...wooo, aren't you funny! Don't you know there is no such thing?

I'm kidding. Our family does have smoother than average vacations. One of the reasons is because my children are acclimated to spending long periods of time in the family truckster. This is just the nature of the middle of nowhere place that I live. We regularly drive long distances to go to a Walmart.

My kids sleep in the car. I'd offer the option of DVD watching in the car to my readers, but many of us know that sometimes that is an excellent way to encourage vomiting in the backseat. (Speaking of, always keep one receptacle for each kid in the car for vomiting purposes.)

Have some other tips and junk:

1. Don't rush.
There is really no need to pack in the activities. Honest, the kids won't notice if you visit one roadside two ton ball of twine and skip the thirty mile long chain of paperclips. A casual pace to vacation lessens stress and overstimulation, so with smaller children, a goal of one destination is fine. If the kids don't give a crap about a giant ball of twine and would rather throw rocks at carp fish in a nearby irrigation canal, that's fine too. They'll remember they had fun and that's what matters.

If you have to pay for an extra day or two of vacation, so you don't have to rush, it's so worth it.

2. Keep meals on time with familiar menus.
The reason that you had to stop for two hours at an odorous pit toilet rest stop, competing for the last square of TP, was because you have been feeding the kiddos too much rich food and snacks. Stop that. Adults like fine dining on vacation. Kids want crap food. Don't give in to either too much. Drink a lot of water. Pack a cooler with normal home food.

If the kids are hungry, don't put off the meal. Get the little gits fed. Otherwise you are just asking for that tantrum in the middle of Bubba's Paintball Museum and Giftshop. Bubba don't cotton to babbies that ain't got no manners. He will shoot your kid.

While waiting for food we all know that it's important to keep kids busy or else their screaming bloody hell will annoy other patrons. These people stiff their waitresses tips on the way out to key your family truckster. Our family eschews the crayons and kiddie menus in favor of playing "I Spy". What restaurant doesn't have their walls covered in all manner of dizzying crap these days? The rules are that you keep an indoor voice and that you have to stay sitting on your butt. I spy, with my little eye, something obnoxiously orange. Is it that lady's dyed hair in the next booth? Yes, your turn!

...and don't leave a horrendous kid mess on your table and floor for the waitstaff to clean up. It's just rude.

3. Wait until the last day to buy cheap souvenirs.
The blissful part of going to one destination is that you can tell the kids that they can look all the while you are there because they can choose something on the last day, before you go home. This creates parental leverage. The kids might find themselves very much wanting the snowglobe with a replica of the giant ball of twine in it and so act like little angels most everywhere you go. This also stems a constant stream of the gimmes. Too many gimmes during the vacation and their last day selection very well may be a shopping bag full of free souvenir air.

4. Adjoining motel rooms.
I am not going to explain this because this post should be rated PG-13 at most....mmmmkay? Just know that when Mom and Dad get a chance to "vacation" too, everyone is happier and more relaxed.

5. Benedryl.
'Nuff said.


  1. Traveling in a motorhome can help solve a lot of these problems. You can fix your own meals in your own kitchen, thus staying with what the kids are used to. You have a TV and DVD unit plus plenty of room to carry games, bicycles, etc. You stay in campgrounds, most of which have play areas for kids, swimming pools, etc. Mom & Dad have their own bedroom in the back while the kids have spots to sleep in their sleeping bags, with their own pillows. It works well. Think about it.

  2. Me likee it all but for the benedryl. All it does is make the kiddos dizzy and mean, I save it for true allergy emergencies.


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