How We're Keeping the Kids Interested in Family Activities: Navigating pre-teens
I love how life progresses, although it's really so much more frustrating and tough than I expected. We're trying to actively keep our kids engaged, and it's working!
February is a short month but not an insignificant one. This month we’ve already celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary (on year 19 though), we’ve been getting our outdoor space ready for spring and we’ve cemented some big plans for the year. I really have been aiming to NOT keep us busy, but whatever, I am who I am and I accept that. And the fam is going to enjoy the things we’ve got planned both at home and on the road.
Something that has already made February a fun month for us has been planning adventures together. Not just together in location, like when we’re traveling, but actually planning things in cooperation with each other. As we’re looking at our Peru adventure next month, and even Hawaii this week, things are shaping up to be awesome for everybody. That’s what I’m focusing on sharing in the current newsletter: how we make our trips, both work and fun, good for everybody.
Thank you for tuning in and listening to our stories and asking questions. I love it. With our adventure in Hawaii this week and next, we’ll be sharing everything on Instagram and Facebook (usually a few days delayed) so follow along over there for lots of wildlife and travel fun!
New York City with Oliver
Last week I had my annual January trip to New York City, but this year Oliver came with me and it made all the difference in how I enjoyed it. I put our itinerary up on the blog for anyone looking to do an NYC trip with a pre-teen, because I think we really had the most optimally fun time. Putting together our itinerary meant asking for Oliver to really think about what he wanted to experience and just tell me straight up what was important to him.
Hearing the way his mind works and what he considered the must-do New York activities was really helpful. It made it so we just had to narrow down our plans into three buckets: history, culture and shopping.
I know I’ve said it before, but the thing I loved most about getting to travel to NYC was spending time one on one with Oliver. You really do get to see a different side of your kids when they’re out of their element and without siblings around. We’re now committed to each other to do something like this once a year with each kiddo.
Tips for Planning Trips with Kiddos
I’m so thankful for the trips we’ve gotten to have with the kids over the years, but now it’s shifting to be a little different. Kids growing up is weird and I don’t know if anything could’ve prepared me/us for what it’s like. One day you have a kid that wants to snuggle and hang out and the next day they want to just be in their room organizing their stuff behind closed doors. It’s so strange to have this totally chill and easy to communicate relationship with your kids and then it’s just awkward.
With that, getting to do new things together is more important than ever, so with our upcoming trips we’ve been actively asking for the kids’ preferences for the activities and plans as we go. We did this with Hawaii in November, I did it with NYC last month, and we’re doing it with Peru next month. We can assume what they are interested in all day (and we’ll probably be right) but they might be feelin’ sassy or angsty and not want to acknowledge that they’re enjoying themselves. And this is why it’s so important to include them in planning.
With our upcoming Peru trip, we had both boys poke around on their computers to see what points of interest, history and wildlife looked cool to them. They came up with a list of things they wanted to do and see. Yes, Machu Pichu is on their list, but so are things like pink river dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon and the penguins down the coast. The Sacred Valley or Nazca Lines were nowhere on their lists. They both honed in on wildlife, and I’m totally fine with that.
When I asked them about our June trip to Alaska, they went a different route: indigenous culture and dogsled stuff (and some wildlife). While we for sure will have some learning opportunities when it comes to learning about the Tlingit culture and other nations, I hadn’t even considered some of the other iconic Alaskan elements, like dogsledding or the Gold Rush. Thankfully I have time to work on all of it before we set sail on our Alaskan Kids in Nature UnCruise.
At the end of the day, whether we’re traveling or at home kids want to know that they’re being listened to and that their opinion holds some weight in the family. If we can help the boys be confident in pursuing their interests AND get to make great memories together, we will keep doing it!
Taking a Break to Chill - We all NEED That
This week we head back to Hawaii to finish a project we started months ago. We’ll finally be doing our island hopping adventure from the Kona Coast to Molokai. Yes, I’ll be writing about all that and we’ll be recording podcasts, but we’ve set ourselves up to be able to also chill out. Pacing work is something I’ve been focused on for the last few months and it’s going to be key in not burning out. Yes, travel is a blast and we love it, but it’s also draining, especially when the travel is something that you then have to form into work production.
Front loading the year with the minutia of all the supporting parts of publishing (photo editing, outlines, drafting captions for social media…) makes the actual travel and weeks following much easier to get through. With that, this upcoming adventure should be wonderfully enjoyable and not just work-brain for 9 days. I’ve got my work tasks while on-location lined up and set like a checklist. I’m totally open to expanding on what I’ve planned to work on while we’re small-ship sailing, but I will feel really good about things if I just stick with my content plan.
Once we’re home from Hawaii, I feel like completing the work I have to do will be much more smooth than other trips. My outlines and pre-work should keep me on task and efficient. If all things go to plan, I can run with regular length working days and a four day work week until the end of March. Fingers crossed I can manage myself properly and maintain focus during my slated working hours.
Does anyone else who is their own boss have a problem with focus and limiting working time? — I would love to hear from anyone who has tried and true tips for maintaining self-employed focus. PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO SHARE YOUR IDEAS!
And here’s what I look like when I’m not stressing at my desk but still working:
Spring and Summer Travel Ideas
Of course I have ideas to share for upcoming travel periods. Yes, we did take the plunge and invest in Universal Orlando passes again (after taking a few years off) but we have more on the docket and more suggestions than theme parks. The outdoors is the greatest gift we can collectively enjoy, and even if not everyone is physically down for hiking or adventurous paddling trips, there are lots of ways to explore.
Here are some unique picks that are great for either spring or summer trips:
Kayaking all around South Florida - great in spring, hot but fun in summer (Kayaking the 10,000 Islands in the Everglades is awesome!)
Washington’s Olympic Peninsula - Olympic National Park was our childhood stomping grounds and is a hit with all ages and interests
Arizona Road Trip - this is better in spring before it’s too hot, but can be done in summer if that’s when you’ve got the time for it
Well, that’s everything for now. There won’t be a substack for a few weeks as we’ll be traveling, but please tune into Instagram and Facebook to follow along. No doubt there’ll be lots of manta rays, humpback whales and honu to share. I can’t wait!