Vacation Parenting Tip

They used to laugh at us, our non-parent friends.

When we went to a cottage, or the beach, or anywhere, we would immediately sit down, as in a paramilitary operation, and divide up the day into parenting chunks: “OK Pam, I’ll take the kids from 0700 to 1200 hours. That’s noon civilian time. You take them until 1700 hours. Thenceforward we’ll take them together. I’ll feed them breakfast, you feed them lunch, we’ll feed them dinner and put them to bed together.”

And we stick to these schedules religiously. If I show up five minutes late for my “shift” Pam will tap her watch and say: “You’re late, Dave.” (This is where the hosts and other guests chuckle incredulously.)

By the same token, if its not my shift, and a kid who can’t swim runs off the end of the dock with no floatation devices, I don’t even look up from my book. Not my problem. I’m “off.”

Friends are goggle-eyed with disbelief at our system. But it’s the only way a parent can truly relax on vacation. It’s when there’s vagueness, murk and overlap that things get tense. Example: we’re on a March break ski-holiday right now (I know, I know, sorry suckers stuck in the city, but we’ve done that most years too: this is our first March break getaway ever: usually we just lie around watching TV, crawl the walls and go to museums). And for the first three days we forgot to use our system, we just “played it by ear,” flew by the seat of our snow-pants-and I wound up feeling like I was the nanny while my wife got to swoosh down the slopes.

For three days my resentment grew. Finally, I could stand it no more: threw a mini hissy-fit and we went back to scheduling and planning every day.

Finally, on the third day, I started having fun.

Author by David Eddie