If you’re currently thinking about your next holiday but not sure if there will be enough to keep your kids amused, I'm here to tell you that you can have the best of both worlds.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Royalton Riviera Cancun in Mexico, courtesty of Sunwing.ca, with my mother and my two girls. I wasn’t sure how this multi-generational trip would turn out with three generations travelling together, but in the end, I came away with a renewed appreciation for the family all-inclusive.
My biggest concern, pre-arrival, was if there would be enough to keep the girls entertained. My mother and I were hoping to find some time to relax and connect. If my girls were pestering me with cries of “I’m bored,” there would be little chance for that to happen. I’m glad, when I arrived, that I had nothing to worry about. The very best family all-inclusives – like the Royalton and Memories resorts in Sunwing’s Family Collection - are there to ensure that kids have the time of their life from the moment they arrive at the resort until it’s time to say, “goodbye.”
Here are some things to look for before you book your next family vacation:
A great kids club is the one your kids beg you to go to first thing in the morning and that leaves them a little sad to see you when it’s time for pick up. Kids clubs are typically for children four to 12 years of age and offer a variety of activities to keep them engaged. Under the watchful eye of trained professionals, kids participate in art & crafts, games, and watching age-appropriate entertainment. Check out the travel company's website ahead of time with your kids to get them excited about their upcoming adventure.
Great kids clubs, like those found at Royalton and Memories resorts, also have favourite children’s characters hanging about like Max & Ruby, Mike the Knight, Toopy and Binoo, and The Berenstain Bears. I’ve always loved kids clubs though, for two reasons: First, they are a great way to get kids out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and second, because it allows me some alone time. Because it’s a “family” vacation and you deserve some time too, right?
Teenagers are looking for independence and a space to call their own while on vacation. Parents want to be sure their teens are in a safe environment so they can relax. At Royalton Luxury Resorts everyone gets what they want.
The Hangout Teens Club for 13 to 17-year-olds has pool, air hockey, and foosball tables. Teens will also find a Playstation area with all the latest and greatest games. Who are we kidding, though? What teens really want is to be connected. With Royalton’s All-In-Connectivity throughout the entire resort your teens can be Snapchatting, Tweeting, and Facebooking every amazing moment of their holiday. I know mine did.
Once again, a resort’s website is the best place to get information on what activities there are for teens. If they don’t have age-specific activities for this group, you may want to consider booking elsewhere. The last thing you need on vacation is an eye-rolling teenager while you’re doing water aerobics.
Most Canadians escaping winter will agree water activities are a priority and that includes the kids. The Royalton Riviera Cancun might just be a haven when it comes to water activities. This all-inclusive resort stretches along one of the best beaches in Riviera Maya Mexico. The warm, turquoise waters are perfect for windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. All the equipment needed is readily available at the NexusTours water sports hut on the beach.
In addition to eleven stunning pools across the property, this resort also has a water splash park for kids complete with fountains, slides and tubes. My girls couldn’t get enough.
Perhaps what I loved most about the resort was the swim-out pools available with some of the luxury suites. Swim-out pools are perfect for parents who want to take a dip after the kids have gone to sleep without leaving the room. It’s also a great way to have a little alone time with just your family. Either way, I’m ruined forever now for rooms that don’t have a swim-out pool. It’s the epitome of luxury.
When I travel with my kids, I also love taking them off the resort, but I wouldn’t dream of doing it without a professional tour guide leading the way. Before you depart, download the free NexusTours app on your phone from Google Play or the Apple Store and start checking out all there is to do ahead of your arrival. You can even book your tour while on your flight. NexusTours is part of the Sunwing group, and offers a wide array of family-friendly tours through trusted local operators across the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico.
I highly recommend the tours to Xel-ha and Tulum, Xcaret, and The Dolphinarium, which we have done on past trips. No matter what country you visit, make sure you get off the resort and expose your kids to a new culture. Some of our best vacation memories were made with new friends in a new country.
Families love travelling to all-inclusive resorts and it’s not hard to see why. All-Inclusive properties like Royalton Luxury Resorts and Memories Resort & Spa, available exclusively from Sunwing.ca, cater to the whole family. This means that parents are free to have a truly relaxing vacation knowing that their kids will be happily immersed in a memorable experience from start to finish.
Just when you think you’ve figured out how to effectively communicate with your kids, they go and change all the rules on you. And at no time is this more evident than when they hit the teen years. Suddenly grunts become answers and eye rolls are a standard response to any question, no matter how innocuous. So, to combat the "teen wall of silence," we parents need to get creative and talk to our teens when their defenses are down.
Here are five things you can do to open lines of communication with your kids:
You may not like it, but teens today communicate a lot differently than we did. Don’t force them to go old school; instead, get with the times and join them. Send texts and video messages as conversation starters, even if they’re in the house with you. But before you start chatting with them on social platforms like Instagram or Twitter, check that they are okay with it. (This can open up conversations of their own!)
I follow my kids on all their social media platforms but rarely - if ever - comment. I may not be "there" with my words, but I'm always observing what's happening in their social media communities - and what I see often opens up great conversations at home. So while nothing beats actual one-on-one conversations with your kids, having other ways to reach out to your child is always a good thing.
Video games are a huge part of many kids lives today. Teens in particular love the Xbox One and you might be surprised how much you'll love it too! I am blown away by the graphics in NHL Hockey and Final Fantasy; gaming has come a long way since the Commodore 64. Don't worry about your beginner status if you've never played XBox One before - they're the only gaming system that offers live tutorials right alongside your game. The really interesting thing about playing video games with your teens is that your roles are reversed - suddenly your teen gets to teach you a few things...and it's fun! (See below for an amazing offer from EB Games). If you want a multi-player experience and chance to meet your teen's gaming friends, join in the multi-player function - XBox One allows you to connect with other players on their XBox One or Windows 10 PCs. Why not host a gaming party for your teen and be the coolest mom on the block?
Sometimes connecting with your teen just means changing the scenery. Get out of your house, away from daily disturbances and take them out to dinner. It doesn’t always have to be just the two of you, but if you can occasionally make it an outing for two, all the better. With your mind off cooking and cleaning, you can truly just sit and relax - and let them order whatever they want with no questions or comments from the Nutrition Police! This is also a good place to insist everyone put their phones away.
Even though they’re all grown up (at least in their minds) teens love hearing stories about their younger years. Pull out family photos or better yet, text them one and ask them if they remember it. Make Throwback Thursday the day you share a memory of your own with them and not the world. Keep them connected to your family story and your bonds will grow stronger.
Ok fine, that technology is long gone, but that doesn't mean you can't share the sentiment. Here's how "mixed tape" love for your teen would look today: load their E-reader up with classic novels from your youth like V.C. Andrews or the Sweet Valley High series - the cheesier and the more retro the better. Make a playlist of your favourite music when you were their age, and throw it on their MP3 player. Finally, grab the popcorn for a movie marathon of the best teen angst ever to hit the big screen, AKA, a John Hughes movies. Aside from being trippy fun for you, this is a great reminder to your teen that you have indeed been there, done that.
I recently started watching Gossip Girl with my eldest daughter. There’s a ridiculous amount of drinking, drugs, sex, and fabulous clothing in this show. In other words, some perfect conversation starters. While you can’t possibly watch everything your teen does (nor would you want to), joining them to watch their favourite show allows you to open up conversations about things you wouldn’t normally be able to segue into without a lot of awkwardness. Finding time to watch your favourite "together time" shows is easy and available anytime you want - just stream them in on Netflix or any of the other entertainment apps available on the XBox One.
Remember: connecting with our teens doesn't have to be complicated - we just have to sometimes step out of our own comfort zones.