Ever wonder what kids really want in a family vacation? I just read a recent survey where kids between the ages of 7 and 12 were asked what they enjoyed the most about vacations. I was surprised to learn that for 29% of kids interviewed, spending time with family was at the top of the list. Which tells me, even though our preteens are rolling their eyes at us when we ask them to clean their rooms, in their heart of hearts they still love us and want to spend quality time hanging out with Mummy and Daddy. It also explains why my kids are always happy when whisk them away on family trips, like our recent five day stay in Orlando.
The survey was filled with interesting tidbits that can be useful when planning where your next family vacation could be.
For example, 70% of kids said they enjoy going to amusement parks on vacation and 64% of these little tikes voted roller coasters and water slides as their favorite theme park rides. If you were to survey my family, that number would be more like "75% of the Ehm household love rollercoasters." I'm the 25% that opts out.
When we were in Orlando, I did go on a few kiddie coasters (don't judge) but I couldn't get my nerve up for either of the incredible Harry Potter rollercoaster rides at Universal Orlando. My kids went on them non-stop for about two hours with their Express Pass while I happily drank beer on a bench. This to me is a win/win proposition. Something yummy for Mummy while the kids get their thrills.
There should have been a question on the survey "Does your mom enjoy drinking beer while you're on crazy rollercoasters?" We could have scored 100% on that one.
But really, you don't need a survey to know that kids love theme parks. When you're in Disney and Universal Studios, all you see are families goofing around and having fun together. And it's not just the rides that are bonding. It's the whole experience of carefree days together, where the only rules are "don't get lost" and "don't throw up on the rides."
Here's a stat parents should pay attention to when planning time away: 68% of kids look forward to swimming while on vacation. When we stayed at the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, I decided to delay our day at the theme park to spend time lazing around at the hotel pool with the kids. We spent three hours fooling around, swimming, relaxing, reading. At the end of the trip when I asked the kids what the highlight of their vacation was, I was surprised that the morning at the pool was as important to them than all the time we spent at the Parks. Why? It's good, old-fashioned, unstructured play.
Keep this in mind when you book your next holiday.
Especially if it's somewhere hot like Orlando, choose lodgings where you have access to a pool. The fancier resorts always have top-notch pools. But condos and rental homes also frequently have them as well. Your kids will have an awesome time splashing around and you'll save money that would have gone to a day at a theme park.
*Insider info! When I was in Orlando, I was told about the Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort opening this spring which is a budget friendly hotel made specifically for families! Inspired by iconic beach resorts of the 1950’s and 60’s, the hotel has all-new family suites that sleep up to six and feature a kitchenette with microwave, mini-refrigerator and sink. There will also be a 10-lane bowling alley and two massive pools with sand beaches, a lazy river, waterslide and more!
Finally, here's a stat that can work to your advantage. One third (33%) of kids enjoy shopping while on vacation. What I would like to add to this is that 100% of moms prefer to shop without their kids. So when planning your next trip to somewhere like Orlando where they have Premium Outlet Malls, make sure to schedule in some alone time while hubby watches the kids in the pool.
Who says one vacation can't make everyone 100% happy?
It's snowing today. Over 10 centimetres of the white stuff will be falling by this afternoon. When my thirteen-year-old son was getting ready to leave for school this morning, I asked if he would be wearing his winter boots today. He kinda shrugged while lacing up his old topsiders and asked, "Do I have to?"
My response: "It's up to you. If it were me I would wear my boots because my shoes and socks would be soaked all day, but hey, that's just me." He continued to lace up his summer shoes, smiled and left to jump on public transit. His $80 winter boots we bought together sat languishing at the doorway.
And I was good with it.
Bad mother? Awesome mother?
I've had a couple of similar scenarios this winter with my newly minted teen, both about wearing appropriate winter coats, putting on a hat or making sure he has is gloves. I sounded like a nag. But, isn't that what a mother's job is? To be the voice of reason for those who don't have the common sense yet to take care of themselves properly?
Each time ended with voices raised and a power struggle. It stressed me out. But was it the "right" thing to do?
I emailed my awesome friend, mom of two teens and parenting expert Alyson Schafer who has such a great perspective on raising kids, for help. Her response to me was this: I would stop asking a child of 13 all of these questions — he can manage all of these things on his own at this age. On average kids get 200 compliance requests a day like this — it makes them crazy...
If you say "You know what...I realize I have been in your face about stuff that I actually know you can manage on your own, from now on — I trust you to dress yourself for the weather. I won't mention coats and mitts again — you're becoming a young man and I enjoy watching you grow and flourish."
It takes time though — he needs to miss the bus, be cold and get his feet wet. And he needs to see that when he makes a mistake it doesn't get you upset —don't own his problems or try to teach him from his mistakes — let him sit with the problem and do his own learning.
Don't make this common parenting error, which is having some emotional response to the situation which the child can detect and therefore they continue knowing it bugs/irks you.
Which brings me back to this morning and letting my son leave for school in a pair of summer shoes. He tested me and I didn't freak. He will be trudging through snow and have wet feet all day at school. I said my part and let him make his (stupid) choice. What do you think? Mother of the Year? Or Bad Mom's Club?
What would you do in this situation?