Vacation destination to reset my kids' routines
November 9, 2016 11:01 PM   Subscribe

I need to take a vacation to help reset my kids' routines. Where could I go?

My child and I experienced a series of traumas several months ago. My child became very volatile. Because it takes so long to put supports in place, I ended up without any childcare and ended up just letting both my kids use screens all the time. Prior to this, I was pretty strict about a 1-2 hour a day limit.

I have some supports in place, but we need more. I'm wiped out. But I started to wonder if maybe there is some sort of place we could go on vacation, where my kids would be engaged in play, and wouldn't be running to screens all the time. They are really interesting, bright kids. Both have complex needs. The one who is quite complex can be very explosive. I started wondering if we just need to run away to a resort for a week or two to help shake the relentless draw of screens.

Obviously, I won't make any decisions without the use of our extensive medical team. But are there good places to do this sort of thing? I'm not sure I would want to go cold turkey, but I would like to get back to a healthier level and get my kids thinking about the world outside their hands.

We live in Canada, but I could see travelling to the US or Mexico or something. I'd like to do it now, so something that is warm in the winter is good.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
First of all, you need a big hug. You are doing a great job, managing trauma and two kids. I admire your determination to do the right thing in a tough situation.

I am a "relief" parent for a family similar to yours: the children stay at my house every second weekend and for some holidays, which gives their parent some time for themself + I support some of the challenges the parent asks me to help with, like getting off the screens, better eating habits etc. This is provided by the municipality here, but in our case I'm doing it privately. Can you get similar help, either from the government or through friends? You would be surprised at how much people will help if they are asked. I know many others who do this.
The reason I'm starting with this is that you need care now. Think of it as that thing in the air safety instructions, where you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others.

In my experience, the "getting them off the screens" job is really tough, because they find it frustrating and "my" kids have to relearn playing. You have to activate them all the time, with them resisting. With a volatile child, this becomes even more challenging - after just a weekend, I'm completely wasted, I can't even imagine being in your shoes. I can see how it would be great with a resort holiday where there are good activities for the kids, so you can relax and they can do something other than game and look at youtube.

However, not all "children's club" activities are equal, there definitely needs to be professional staff. I've bought memberships to a local aquarium where they have great activities for children, but my kids sometimes don't get social norms and they certainly don't have patience for learning or instructions, if I'm not 100% there. Which is fine in my situation, but not in yours.

The first thing I thought about was a skiing vacation - great, focused fun for all of you, with ski school in the mornings, then lunch, then some more skiing and maybe 1-2 hours of screen time before supper and bed times. Tired children = evening time for a parent (who will also be rosy cheeked and tired in a good way). I don't know about good places in North America.

Then by googling for warmer places with search words from the reasoning above, I found this: Beaches - which looks promising to me. This article has other suggestions.
posted by mumimor at 12:26 AM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am going to nth that getting off screens is really hard. I have used them to get by with illness/trauma in my home as well and then cut them back down multiple times.

Maybe don't do this cold turkey. Maybe try to cut back with other activities by like an hour every few days or week if that has been a long term habit.

Otherwise, yeah beaches. Beaches in the US or any laege city where you're sure of medical carw.
posted by Kalmya at 3:48 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe you want an all-inclusive beach resort in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, or Cancun. Pools and beaches are awesome for getting littles tired and away from screens.

Recently I took my kid (5yo, possibly younger than yours, and doesn't have medical issues) on a camping trip. Our trip was awesome because he was completely free-range and the whole trip was "yes" time - "Mom, can I go with..." "Yes." "Mom, can we go..." "Yes." "Mom, we're going to look for..." "Yes." The only rules were stay with a buddy, keep the camp in sight, and if you do end up finding a snake, don't try to pick it up. I barely had eyes on him the whole time and I worried more about getting meals on the table than about where he was or what he was doing. This is a kid whose life is highly scheduled due to circumstances, so the freedom he experienced was priceless.

A group camp trip with other similar aged kids is best, you can probably find ones to join through a church or a local community group. If you can find one to join it may be at a campground that has actual cabins and a mess hall.

You might also look into something like a dude ranch, or an organic farm, where you can exchange a little bit of work (something for the kids to engage in) for a reduced rate.
posted by vignettist at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Disney theme parks and cruises are overstimulating in a way that feels very familiar if you spend a lot of time glued to a screen, minus the screens. Theme parks in particular can end up actually forcing a lot of conversations since you spend so much time in line.
posted by potrzebie at 9:19 AM on November 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

Would they enjoy running around in nature if you took them somewhere like Yosemite and did day hikes?
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:41 AM on November 10, 2016

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