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Home > Father Son Poem / Article > Article

Family Vacation Summer Fun: Ideas for Dads

by Archie Wortham

boy with ice cream
© Corbis. All rights reserved.

"Are we there yet?" Vacation is in the air. For those of you who are planning a vacation this summer, I’m providing a few ideas for you to think about that might make this year’s trip more memorable, bearable, and possibly might save someone’s life. After 180 days of school, what have you learned, dads? Here are my thoughts!

Remember feelings can be replaced, lives can’t. Our kids want to do a ton of things. Some things no sane person would venture to do. Kids need to understand that ‘no means NO,’ even if it’s keeping seat belts fastened, or not going too far out into the water without permission. Good feelings can replace bad ones, but only if your kid is still around.

Go where you don’t have a phone. Leave the cellular behind. I’m not crazy here. I still haven’t signed up for a cellular. There have always been friends, neighbors, or policemen when we needed them. You’re going on vacation! If the boss can’t do without you for a week, maybe you need a new boss. Barring that, give your boss your mother-in-law’s number. If something is really important, your boss can call her. Even on vacation your wife is apt to call her mother, and if there is anything life threatening it will be relayed to you, dad. Otherwise, do without the phone for a week (same thing applies to moms that work outside the home). Remember why you went on vacation. Sometimes people forget vacations are planned to get away from it all...well do that!! Leave it all behind. It will be there when you get back.

Take something the whole family can enjoy, remember I said enjoy! This guarantees definitive interaction once you’ve gotten where you are going. Let it be something that can be done indoors. Take a couple of books you and your spouse promise to read--read them! This gives you something you can discuss. Be generous here. Choose a book your spouse would enjoy, but like marriage’s ‘better or worse,’ commit to reading the book regardless of what you might think. You can’t always judge a book by its cover, and this is something that can be done in silence, in bed, and last more than one night. Take a couple of books your children love, or a board game. Read to them. Play with them. If you have teenagers, just taking them is enough, but you could agree to listen to some of their music, read a book they’ve read, and talk to them about it--you don’t have to read to them. Try to book a place that has a VCR, and take a couple of movies the family can watch together. The Star Wars Trilogy is a great set, but choose your own, and watch them!

Let the kids stay up as late as they want at least one night and by all means let them sleep. Our boys are not teenagers yet, so I’m not as jaded as some of you might be. Still, I think rest is good.

Avoid the evening news--Relax! It’s not going to hurt you if you miss the networks’ syndication of sin: politics, corruption, and carnage as you remember how to count. You know you love your kids. I know you love your kids. Counting the ways you love them might be both beneficial to your health and make you realize they’re not worth the stroke brewing in your veins if you don’t count. Sometimes it as simple as reminding your kids you are on vacation too. They’ll forget that when they’re bored. Let them be bored without you, after all the movies, the books, the board games, can’t they find something to do? Duh???

Go for walks, as a family, alone, and with your spouse. You are on vacation, dad, taking a walk can cleanse your spirit. Walking with your wife might develop into a habit where you can learn how much the other one wants you to be there with nothing in mind other than being there. No soft music, no Viagra, just you and her. Enjoy watching your kids as only a parent can...in the solitude of a walk.

Eat out at least once, and enjoy the free things. The first gives you a break from the stuff you packed and reacquaints you with civilization. The second reminds you they’re are so many things you can that don’t cost a dime...watching the sun set, or the sun rise. Taking walks, reading books, or just holding each other. Simple? Trite? Yeah, but richly rewarding.

Drive to your vacation if you can. This gives you the option of going home early, or staying a bit longer. It also helps you realize you don’t have to go that far to really enjoy yourself, just far enough to leave a few of life’s nuisances behind and remember it’s okay to ask directions. Who cares if the map is wrong, getting where you want to go with or without your ego is more important than getting caught in rush hour traffic?

Last but not least, take a camera. If for no other reason but affirming the fact, you ‘were there!’ These notes are not etched in any kind of stone. Read ‘em and leave ‘em if you like. The important thing is remember--vacations are important! Vacations are a time to appreciate what you have, and what you have earned. Remember that, and work hard at enjoying your vacation, and not so much on making it a perfect one!

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