July 15, 2013

The Summer Series - Linda Wolff

I always find it helpful and comforting to be able to connect with other parents who are dealing with the same joys and challenges I am. I know they can relate to me and often offer understanding, helpful advice or the words I need to hear.

I also love hearing from those who are farther along in their parenting journey. It helps give me a glimpse into what will be as well as vital perspective. It is very easy to get caught up in a difficult moment. Realizing it is a mere pebble on the path and will soon be a speck in the rear view mirror is important.

My guest today, Linda Wolff, writes the humorous parenting/lifestyle blog Carpool Goddess, where she shares her adventures of parenting from carpool to empty nest. She is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, as well as other parenting and women's sites.

Linda is much farther along in her parenting journey, but I could definitely relate to this post. It reminded me of the summer trips I enjoyed with my parents as a young adult. I loved the transition that took place in those years. My parents never tried to be my friend when I was growing up. But in my adult life, they have been two of my best. 

Summer is a very special time in my home now that both kids are in college. For nine months they live across the country and I parent from afar. But summer brings them back to me and those three months of having a full house again, and being back in fully-mommy-mode, are sweet bliss even if there is chaos. I know those few months will go fast and I dread to think of the end of summer when we have to part, having to make that transition yet again now that we’re empty nesters and there is no little one left behind to help cushion the blow.

That’s what makes traveling with my family the highlight of the summer. It’s 24/7 uninterrupted family time and gives everyone a chance to reconnect. We’ve been traveling with our kids since they were little so they’re seasoned travelers who love adventure and experiencing new things. And even though they’re grown they still look forward to our family time and make it a priority. Fancy that?

What I love most about going on vacation is that it feels like my home life freezes and time stands still. Getting out of my routine, as hard as that is for me sometimes, is the most exhilarating feeling. I have found that as much as I don’t like to fly, I love to travel, and once that plane takes off (and the Xanax has kicked in) the vacation has started and my cares and troubles at home slip away. The only thing that matters is, A) I survive the plane flight, and B) I’m with my family.

I always go with the lofty notion that I will make some profound discovery about myself or make a change for the better and come home renewed or reborn. I make lists of things I want to do or need to fix. I create projects for myself. It’s all very inspiring. Sometimes the only real change I’ve made is that I’ve gained a few pounds, but I always remain hopeful. Regardless of how long the vacation, there is always something to be learned.

Here are 10 things I learned while on vacation this summer:

1. Keep a deck of cards on you at all times, and handy-wipes. One kills time, the other germs.

2. Take as many photos as you can and don’t obsess about what you look like. One day you’ll look back and think how good you looked.

3. Give up any idea of a normal routine and go with the flow. If we manage to do half the things we planned to do, it’s an enormous success. Some of our most memorable moments happened spontaneously.

4. Adopt to the customs where you are. Whether dining later, dressing with more flare, or speaking the native tongue as best you can, it enhances the experience. Personally, I adore the way some cultures kiss on both cheeks upon greeting. I do this with my kids. One kiss is never enough with someone you love.

5. When touring, keep gum, snacks, and water in your purse, because if you’re like me, you will get hungry and thirsty at the most inconvenient times.

6. That being said, don’t drink a lot of water before or during touring, bathrooms may be scarce, or worse, in a condition you wouldn’t use if your life depended on it (I learned this lesson the hard way). Keep tissues on you at all times, because in some of the more exotic locales, the toilet tissue may not only be rationed - requiring you to be extremely efficient - it definitely won’t be Charmin. Also, remember to have coins handy, you might have to tip to use the loo.

7. Don’t let fear run your life. Push yourself. I truly hate to fly, but I won’t let it stop me from traveling. It would be sad to miss out on so many of life’s adventures.

8) Try new things. Eat new things. Expand your mind and culinary repertoire. If your health allows, try whatever sweet or savory delight the place you’re visiting is famous for. If nothing else, eating monkey’s brains makes a good story.

9) Being away from home is a good time to break an old habit and create a new one. We all try to pick something to work on. I try to stay away from Diet Coke and read and exercise more.

10) Men, regardless of how beautiful their bodies are shouldn't wear Speedos. Enough said.

I agree 110% with that last one! But really, I think much of this is great advice for life, not just vacation. Thank you, Linda!

Check out these other great Summer Series posts:

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