If you’ve read any of my articles here on The Good Men Project, you’ll probably know that I’m very proud of my son. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he’d have 14 trophies in Karate and another 23 in swimming including a bronze at the Junior Olympics this year at the age of 10. Seeing your child grow and achieve so much is truly amazing.
Raising a child is a huge responsibility and outside of loving then unconditionally there are no rules for parenting. Some kids need encouragement, others thrive under pressure. Some are good at math; others are good at languages. You’ve got uber-competitive kids (my son) and you’ve got kids that could care less about winning.
What I do know is that your life changes forever when you have kids. Your sleeping habits are the first thing that change. Your diet. Your language. Your TV. Your vacations. They all change. A good parent takes into consideration their kids’ needs.
As a productivity consultant, I find it interesting just how much my son has taught me about productivity and time management. All the things I mentioned above are topics that are part of my new Live One-Bite Time Management Program for clients. But today I want to address one of them specifically – vacations.
Growing up, I loved it when my parents started including me in the vacation discussion, even if they didn’t always accept my ideas. It was nice to have a voice. I don’t remember all my vacations, but a few that stand out were camping, a shack on a beach, a houseboat in England, Snake Island and, of course, Disneyland.
Most of those took place back in the 80’s, and a lot’s changed since. Kids my son’s age are glued to screens – iPad, laptop, TV, Nintendo Switch and smartphones. I remember playing video games on a black and white 11-inch TV. It can’t have been good for my eyes. But today, we bombard ourselves with intense vivid colors all day long. For the most part, screens were in the house. Not they’re in our pockets. Despite the added convenience, I don’t think it’s a good thing for kids.
What’s the solution? The digital detox.
In our digital world, from time to time, we should all make an effort to escape from the modern world, even if just for a day or two.
Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, my wife and I decided as our son was old enough, as he loved swimming, we would take him to some beautiful waters near us. We researched the best places within a two-hour drive and one by one we checked them off our list. Here in Japan, going to unspoiled rivers you’ve got to go to the countryside. No five-star hotels, no TVs, just good old-fashioned nature
One summer we went up to Kyoto and I could hardly believe our accommodations. It looked like it was going to fall down any minute. My wife’s face was priceless. The BBQ pit was even worse. It reminded me of my father taking me one Easter to Puerta Galera (in the Philippines).
Puerta Galera is a place that is etched in my memory for a few reasons – a four-hour boat ride with zero air-conditioning in 95-degree weather, a fisherman’s shack with a bathroom that looked like a place out of the movie Hostel, crystal clear waters and a white-sand beach.
Daytime was lovely. Nights were scary. But I never forgot it.
Back to Kyoto. While my wife and I weren’t thrilled, we did try to make the best of a bad situation. My son, on the other hand, had a whale of a time. He loved jumping off a 12-foot drop into the river. He enjoyed the BBQ (which took me ages to get started), and he slept like an angel.
What I’m trying to say is that what adults think kids will love and remember aren’t what we expect. They love fun, and fun comes in all different shapes and sizes. Five-star hotels and resorts are great, but the great outdoors can be amazing, too. Honestly, I can’t remember many of the hotels my parents took me to when I was young, but I do remember sleeping in a test, staying in that shack, and swimming at a deserted island.
It’s more important than ever to give our kids REAL experiences. Take them to Disneyland, but also take them camping. Take them to a five-star hotel and stay at a small B&B in the middle of nowhere. The differences make the experiences more memorable. If you live in a big city, take your kids to the quieter places. Get out and explore.
There will be those kids who kick up a fuss and moan and groan all the way there, but once you’re there, they’ll want to make the most out of it. I’ve taken my son zip-lining, snorkeling, canyoning, sausage making and all sorts of silly things even something called “mud adventure” and what I’ve learned is that kids love weird and wonderful experiences. It’s not about the money, but in finding unique, tactile, visual experiences for their senses. In time, I promise you that by creating family adventures, you’ll earn more brownie points than 90% of most toys.
Don’t try and buy your kids affection. Instead stimulate their mind and do it as a family. Not only will you be able to recharge your batteries and boost your productivity, it’s something that will leave an impression on your kids.
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