Tell me if this sounds familiar—we aren’t going to go to Europe yet. We want to wait until the kids can appreciate it.
Or wait, what about this one—why waste money on a vacation right now? The kids aren’t going to remember it.
Let’s put a stop to this way of thinking right now. Parents, you know the people who pay for the trip, have just as much right as the kids to enjoy their vacation that they have saved up for and been dreaming about probably for longer than their kids have been on this earth. We as parents need to remember this. We are important too.
For far too long we have been told to put our children’s needs above our own. We have been told to always put their interests first, essentially telling us to forget our own wants and desires, interests and expectations for life. No. Those will have to wait until the kids pack up for college.
If I thought this way I would begrudge my kids for the rest of their lives as I saw my youth pass me by and all of my money go into their education. If I had to wait until they went to college you better believe I would become the mother of all helicopter moms and push my kids to succeed and get out the door as soon as possible.
This type of thinking isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to the parents and it certainly isn’t fair to the kids. No child should have to feel like they slowed their parent down just because they were born. Children are meant to be loved and cherished, not resented. So why do we continue to use our kids as an excuse not to do the things we love?
No more I say! For years I’ve been beating this bush dead. I travel for me, not my kids. I’m a selfish mom and I am OK with that. I travel where I want to travel, because let’s get real, my kids at this young age just don’t care where we go as long as we are together. My boys, who are now 3 and almost 6, don’t even know that Disney World exists. You know what they do know about? Gelato.
Yup. My oldest is an ice cream connoisseur. He can ask for strawberry ice cream in four languages because he knows that if he doesn’t say it politely to the shopkeeper in whatever country we are in, he isn’t getting a cone of his favorite treat in the world.
I don’t say this to brag, I say it to make a point. I wanted to visit friends in Italy when he was three and his brother was 5 months old. We went to Italy. He had ice cream for the first time there and he has been hooked ever since.
This is the memory he made while in Italy. This is the memory I hold onto from our trip—that look of pure joy when he took his first lick, and yes I have a picture hanging on my wall of that moment.
I’ve heard friends and random strangers even ask me why I bother to bring my kids to far off lands when all the kids want to do is play on the playground. Well for one thing, playgrounds are everywhere. There is even one right by the Eiffel Tower I’m told.
Playgrounds are a great place to mingle with the locals. My boys make friends wherever they are, so naturally I start chatting or mime with the moms and grandmas who are sitting on the bench or hovering around little ones who just started walking. The second thing is that I don’t actually spend that much time at playgrounds at home, much less when I travel. There are so many things to do around us that don’t involve a playground.
Now that we are living outside of DC I have access to an endless number of monuments, steps and grassy fields leading up to those monuments for the boys to run around. We have world-class museums to educate ourselves in and restaurants to stretch our taste buds whenever they get bored.
Want to know how many times I’ve been to a children’s museum in the past six years? Twice. Maybe three times. I hate children’s museums. I loathe them with a passion you wouldn’t believe. I have zero fun there. Yes, my children love them, but if I have to take them, why can’t I take them somewhere that we can all enjoy, like a science museum or natural history museum. Dinosaurs are cool! I can get on board with that. What I can’t get on board with is paying a king’s ransom to play tea party in a tiny kitchen at a museum. Sorry, but that just isn’t me.
Once again I will say, why are you only traveling for your kids when you are there too? I don’t want to be the mom at the park or museum who just sits on my cell phone commenting on Facebook posts. I want to be doing things that are worth posting about! I want my boys to have fun interacting with me when I am truly joyful, not when I am pretending and wishing I was back home on the couch catching up on HGTV reruns (yes, I’m a closet HGTV fan, I admit it).
Next time you want to blame your kids for your lack of global wanderings, ask yourself one question—what’s the real reason you aren’t traveling? Is it really because of your kids or is it just that you don’t want to deal with them? If you answered the latter, well that is a whole different article I’ll need to write. Let’s face it– travel should be fun for parents too.