We just got in from almost two weeks of vacation in Northern California. There was hiking, a ropes course, parasailing, eating, visiting friends and family, exploring caverns, swimming, conversation, going to the playground, and a two-day drive from and to Portland. I discovered a few things while away:
- My son, who’s historically afraid of heights, thinks parasailing is AWESOME. (But there’s nothing more awesome than watching your child conquer a fear.)
- My kids are happiest on a beach. (Although the nudists at Baker Beach in San Francisco required some explanation.)
- The road trip tips here are incredibly helpful when planning a long drive (thank you to all of you who’ve submitted them over the years).
- There are amazing stops between Northern California and Portland — on this trip, we visited the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, Lake Shasta Caverns in California, and the town of Corvallis, Oregon: home of Oregon State University, an adorable downtown, and Osborn Aquatic Center, which has the most amazing outdoor pool I’ve ever seen.
- Maintaining our usual routine while on vacation (as much as we could) made a huge difference to our peace of mind. While the bedtimes were blown by several hours every night, every morning, the kids had to get themselves dressed, teeth brushed, and beds made (at their grandparents’ house) before playtime.
- For the most part we also maintained our usual limits on Gameboy and video time, with a slight exception during long car rides. Huge sanity saver. In the past, when we’ve relaxed those rules, we had to deal with constant questioning about “when is it game time?” or “can I play my Gameboy now? How about now?” (Possibly more torturous than “are we there yet?”) My son would sit in front of a screen all day if he could, so having those limits firmly in place made our vacation more enjoyable for everyone.
- Spending time offline is good for the soul. In case you haven’t noticed, Parent Hacks has been rather quiet these last couple weeks. Usually, while on vacation, I hunt for Wifi and check in at night, but this time I stayed mostly offline. It was the most relaxing vacation in a long time. I love Parent Hacks (needless to say) so checking in has never felt like “work.” But going online does take me away from the present moment with my family, and it veers close to reminding me of the day-to-day responsibilities waiting for me when we return. It’s a no-brainer that “unplugging” is good for one’s attention and calm, but I’ve never experienced it so directly.
It was a wonderful trip, and it’s good to be home (both here in Portland and here at Parent Hacks). I hope you’re all enjoying your summers, too.
Photo of Lake Tahoe parasailing by sglickman