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Go West Young Family

Go West Young Family

The weather colder these days, and the Santa Claus parade has come and gone, so we decided to go for a little trip with the kids to somewhere a little warmer – Edmonton, obviously.

Actually, our choice of destination was determined far more by the fact that some old friends of ours now live out there in Alberta. They lived with us for a while when they were in university, and their oldest child (their only child at that point) was a sort of surrogate son for us during a time when we weren’t sure we’d be able to have children. We’re still his godparents, and he came out to stay with us for a summer as a coming of age trip when he turned 13, but we hadn’t seen the rest of the family in years. So, when tickets came on sale, we decided to take a family trip.

Now, you’ll notice that I didn’t say family vacation. There’s a reason for that. No family trip that involves air travel, staying for several days in someone else’s home, and a complete disruption of normal food, sleep, and schedule can really be called a vacation. A trip – sure. Family together time – yeah. Family adventure – absolutely. Vacation – not a chance.

In the few days we’ve been here we’ve gone tobogganing twice, swimming once (and again today), to a games cafe, to the farmers’ market, and to West Edmonton Mall. We’ve eaten out at restaurants several times and had far more sugar than we normally eat. We’ve had far more video game and screen time than is normal for us. Our bedtimes (already disrupted by two hours of time zone difference) have been all over the place.

In other words, although everyone is having a great time hanging out with our friends, our routines are not ideal for encouraging good behaviour in kids who already struggle with impulse control at the best of times. We’ve had a couple of standard style melt downs, one sled fight in the middle of the tobogganing hill, one entire glass of pop spilled across a restaurant table, and one Nerf bullet to the eye (resulting in a hospital visit). So (by our standards) things have actually been going pretty well, but it’s definitely not what I’d describe as a vacation.

And that’s okay. Really.

Vacations are nice. The one’s where everyone else goes away and leaves me at home alone with my books are even nicer. But going away with your kids is not about vacation. It’s about family time and adventure and family building. It’s about making shared memories – ones that you’ll find fun at the time (like making sushi for the first time), and ones that you’ll hopefully find funny later (like spilling pop into your new friends’s lap).

It isn’t necessarily easy. It’s certainly harder than vacationing on a hot beach with a complimentary cocktail. But it’s worth it. It’s worth the interruption to eating and sleeping routines. It’s worth the extra tantrums and disasters. It’s worth it because of the strength you’re building into your family relationships. So pack the kids up and have an adventure, even if it’s just to Edmonton, even if it’s just down the street. It may not be a vacation, but it might just be something better.