When our kids were little, Peter and I took them everywhere: trips to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, and up and down the East Coast. One summer, when the boys were ages 10, 6, and 1, we flew across the Big Pond and spent a month exploring Europe and visiting relatives. Traveling with a baby had its challenges, but Ross was still nursing, which made things a lot easier.
We also stayed in vacation homes as much as we could so we had plenty of room, and I could do some cooking instead of eating out all the time. (For tips on doing Europe with Kids, see my article on Tidewater Family’s website: www.tidewaterfamily.com/travel/europe-with-kids.)
I remember once we dined at a fancy restaurant in the countryside outside of Paris. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and luckily a table on the terrace was available. Views of the River Seine sparkled through the willow trees along the bank, and all around us elegant Parisian families dressed in their Sunday best shared a midday meal.
Peter and I ordered the daily prix fixe menu, and the boys chose pasta. I remember marveling at how deliciously simple the food was, including my favorite dessert ever: a dish of freshly picked raspberries dusted lightly with powdered sugar. Happily, the kids behaved, and we were able to relish our food, the delicious wine, and the perfect weather and be completely in the moment.
It’s not that we were wealthy. We just chose to cut corners in order to afford traveling. Exposing our children to different cultures and traditions, even at a young age, helped them grow into respectful young adults. They also learned about history, geography, architecture, cuisine, and different ways of living.
Of course, we built in plenty of downtime, always including a beach outing, a picnic, or a playground in our daily schedule. Today my sons say they don’t remember all the places we took them when they were little, but I am sure their personalities were shaped by what they experienced.
This month’s cover story offers a few ideas for winter getaways and addresses the question of whether it’s OK to take kids out of school for a family vacation. I think you already know my answer to that question. Just do it. You and your family will benefit from seeing new places and discovering new perspectives.
Of course, visiting museums and cultural sites adds an educational component, but even if you just take your kids out of school for a few days to go skiing, I say, “Go for it.” Spending time with your kids while they’re young is the best gift you can give, and sharing new experiences brings you closer as a family.
One more thing, leave the mobile devices at home. Yep, you too, Mom and Dad. Enjoy together time: hiking in the woods, playing cards or board games, cooking meals, and sharing ideas. As 2019 tiptoes in, my wish is for you to connect with your family, love each other, and be here now. Happy New Year!