“Mom, can you shut your laptop?”
“Mom, can you turn off your phone?”
Those words always manage to stab a knife of guilt right into my heart. Of course, I love my kids and want to give them my best, but the pull of technology and the shouts of our always-on-demand world can make that difficult.
You know what it’s like, juggling the emails from your boss, getting dinner on the table, and trying to squeeze in a few minutes of Facebook scroll. Even when I don’t want my screen to take over, it almost always does.
Wouldn’t it be nice to escape that, even just for a little while?
For me, I’ve finally figured out the best way to put my phone away and give my kids my full attention.
For some reason, it’s easier to slip my phone in my pocket or even leave it on the counter if I’m out exploring with my kids. I don’t know if it’s vacation mode or the fact that there is more to do and see, but traveling means my kids get more of the best version of me.
How Traveling Makes Me A Better Parent
1. I Unplug and Can Tune In to My Kids
Being disconnected from technology and a busy world is easier when I’m not in my regular routine. It breaks some environmental habits, like turning to social media when I’m bored, and helps me let go of my to-do list.
Sometimes the shift in time zones, a remote location, or even being out of the country helps that inbox to quiet down, and as soon as I’m unplugged, I’m a more tuned-in mom.
2. I Model Risk-Taking (and Failure) for My Kids
I want to model for my kids the idea that it’s ok to take risks and try new things, even if we fail at them. Any time we explore a new place, they get a chance to see me and my husband experience something new. Sometimes it goes well, like that great new donut place we happened to stop at, and sometimes it fails (um…like maybe forgetting the entire picnic lunch and not realizing it until you’ve already hiked all morning).
Either way, our boys are seeing us as people who are willing to try new things even if they don’t work out. They watch us problem-solve and recalibrate, which are values I want them to develop in themselves, and it’s easier to do that when you’re on the road than following your regular schedule at home.
3. I Allow My Brain to Grow and Change
Did you know every time our brain encounters a new piece of information, it has to either discard it or make an adjustment to the way we think? Travel is the ultimate disrupter for our brains and I love that as my kids travel, they are seeing more of the world around them. We meet new people, see new environments, and have to consider new perspectives as we expand our view of the world.
And all of this is true for grown-ups too. It makes me a stronger and more compassionate parent as I let my brain grow and change.
4. I Learn More About My Kids
I’m coming to realize that getting to know my kids as individual people, with their own unique personalities, is really, really important. And there’s no better place to do that than on vacation.
Since my kids are now at school, I don’t spend big blocks of time with them, and when I do it’s to shuttle them around or feed them. But vacation affords that time to sit back and watch them, especially as they interact with a new place and handle the stresses of travel.
Do I turn into a total parenting super hero while on vacation?
Um…not so much! There are still meltdowns and messes from all of us. After all, we bring our bad habits with us on vacation too, and nothing every goes according to plan, but I do find myself connecting with and learning about my kids in ways I don’t at home. So even though my kids might still occasionally whine about me being on my phone on vacation, it’s only because I’m snapping more photos of their adorable faces!
How does travel make you a better parent? What are your favorite ways to connect with your kids as you go exploring? Or, what makes it hard to be a great parent while on vacation? Leave your comment below!
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