I can remember my father stopping the car every vacation and breaking up a fight between me and my brother. These fights were usually instigated by him so that they would do the inevitable. My father would scold both of us, scoop me up, and plant me in the small space between he and mother while my brother sprawled out comfortably in the back seat and smirked at the back of my head.
I’m sure that everyone can share such a story.
However, there are ways to avoid (ok, who am I kidding?), diminish the number of altercations between siblings. The first rule is TO KEEP THEM BUSY.
Of course you’ve thought to bring books and games but self-entertainment only last so long, unless you have teenagers who barely talk to you and can amuse themselves until they lose signal or their texting thumbs get tired. Think of different ways to entertain and engage your kids, such as the license plate or billboard or exit ramp games. Talk to them about where you’re going and the cool stuff you’ll be doing. Do NOT read out of the guidebook or let dad lead a sing-along as that will not help matters.
When all else fails, USE BRIBERY. For every thirty minutes of good behavior, he/she will get fifty cents or twenty minutes of iPhone or Skype time, depending on their age.
Make the journey as fun as the destination. Plug the ROADSIDE AMERICA app into your phone and see what’s on your route. There is a small fee but it is worth it. This is one of my favorite resources and never fails to surprise and delight me. What kid doesn’t want to see the world’s biggest mudball or Alligator Alley or the Museum of the Weird. www.roadsideamerica.com
Once on vacation, keep in mind that KIDS DO NOT LIKE THE SAME THINGS AS ADULTS. They’ll go to a museum and enjoy it only if it is unusual or designed for kids. They don’t care about old churches and cathedrals. They’re not interested in educational tours even though it is a nice idea to try to stimulate their little minds. They can’t sit still for long periods of time. They get tired and cranky if they get hungry or do too much without a “rest period” (me too!) They love to see weird (and often gross) stuff so keep that in mind when planning the trip.
GIVE IN. Say “yes” when you might not at home. If they want ice cream, let them have it. So what if they had ice cream at lunch? That was hours ago. You’re on vacation. This is true for mom and dad too. So go ahead and order a double cone and enjoy the sounds of slurping, not screaming…
A great resource is www.tripadvisor.com