While I’d like to think I’m as cool as the Fonz with my kids, I’m probably more like Richie’s mum Marion – fretting, flapping my wings, but with skinny jeans instead of a swishy ’60s style frock. Yet before we headed off on a family holiday to New Zealand last year, I decided to take a big chill-pill and I reckon it worked.
Here’s 8 things I learnt that’ll guarantee a report from your kids of “cool” when they head back to pre-school.
Eat where you want to eat.
If you’ve ever paid ridiculous prices for bland food in a ‘family restaurant’, only to have your child eat three nibbles of taco, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Instead, decide where you’d like to eat, and prepare accordingly. Almost every restaurant in the world now has a high chair or two, but if you’re worried, carry a mobile high chair that you can strap onto standard seats.
Pack snacks to deal out to the kids while you enjoy your Beef Carpaccio. And if there’s no Kids’ Menu, order plain pasta or bread to fill them up. Pack colour-in books, pencils, stickers, little toys and a fully charged gadget with games to keep them occupied – they will be in heaven, and you will be in peace.
Take silly family photos.
They’ll be more memorable.
Prepare for magic.
Sometimes a change of plans can bring the best surprises. We’d booked a horse riding trek through one of the most picturesque vineyards in the world, Rippon in Wanaka. Yet a snowboarding stack the day before left my tailbone too tender to trot. Instead, Carol from Timber Creek Equestrian Centre piled us into her ute and drove us around the countryside. When a horse and a donkey magically appeared from behind a clutch of trees, we made an impromptu stop to feed them an apple treat, a memory that will stay with the family for years to come.
Don’t worry about ‘hat hair’.
Probably the most awesome things – like going on an sky gondola, tobogganing, snow-boarding and horse-riding require a helmet. Go with the flow.
My son and I on the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown, and the horse and donkey that magically appeared at Rippon vineyard and winery.
Don’t try to teach family members complex new skills like skiing when it can be easier and safer to delegate.
Plus, as kiddie schools are geared up for teaching little-ones they’re guaranteed to have fun while they’re at it. This also applies to swimming lessons, driving lessons, and in a perfect world, lessons on wiping their own bottoms 😉
Buy and drink local wine.
To support local suppliers and support your own sanity.
Chat to the locals.
Take the time to get to know the locals at every chance you can – it’s a real insight into how they live, what makes the area unique, and you’ll meet some real characters along the way. Lyn the owner of the National Transport and Toy Museum confided that she dresses the dolls in her extensive displays in outfits that can range from $1000 down to ten cent market finds. “Expensive or cheap, it’s how it looks that counts” she told me, and truer words have never been spoken.
Don’t feel guilty about letting your kids use technology for entertainment.
In 1984 I needed Duran Duran on my walkman to ‘endure’ a family road trip around the Grand Canyon. And kids these days are no different. A kid who oohs and ahhs over stunning country side is hard to find – even if that kid wants to be a park ranger when he grows up.
Treat the kids and yourself.
And administer ice cream daily.
How do you stay cool during family holidays?