I wrote in my upcoming book that you need to choose holiday destinations with your children firmly in mind. You have to balance the perception of an idyllic family holiday with reality and this, I’ve discovered, gets harder as they grow into adults.
When children are little you create the world for them including their world on holiday. They do what you organise and don’t have an agenda of their own. When they become teenagers they start to have a life outside of your world, a world that they seldom want to shut down while on holiday. If they have a phone, and that’s nearly all teenagers, then they have an umbilical cord back to their reality.
They are also old enough to wander around the shops by themselves and stay out quite late. I don’t want them to because, as a typical parent, I worry. It’s hard to relax if your teenager is chatting to her friends somewhere in the hotel complex. My two are sensible but they are also teenagers. However, I’m only too aware that in a few short years they will be out in the world on their own and my job is to arm them with enough knowledge, skills and sense to thrive.
The trick is to create holidays that work and cater for everyone’s needs. I love the idea of an escape with no power or internet but this makes my children break out in cold sweats.
The break we’ve just been on was the first where I encountered this new situation and thankfully we still had fun. It was a short escape to Wellington (NZ’s capital city) where we went to the Zoo and museums (we all enjoyed the World War One exhibitions which were fantastic). It was in the evenings when I noticed that the usual plan of all hoping into bed and watching something on TV didn’t work for everyone.
In hindsight it was a reflection of how our normal evenings at home have been evolving. We’re all busy and tend to do our own thing in the evening. In some regards this is good, as I can get a lot more done, but there is a danger of us losing contact, at least the level of contact that we are used to.
So I will be factoring this into my thinking as the New Year kicks off. We always eat dinner together and I will organise more activities that we can do together. It could be cards, a movie or maybe an evening walk to get an ice cream.
Importantly, I’m not trying to hold back the world in King Canute fashion. It’s about making sure that I’m as engaged as I need to be as the world evolves.