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With apartments in Rome and Venice secured, we were off to a good start. Of course your accommodations don’t count for much if your kids decide to be whiney and generally unpleasant during your vacation. So the other tip I have for you to ensure a wonderful vacation with your offspring is to threaten their lives. I found that to be quite helpful.When dealing with kids, I find threatening their lives to be helpful. Click To Tweet
Before we left my husband told our kids in no uncertain terms that fighting on this trip wouldn’t be tolerated. And for the most part it worked. Whenever my kids started in all I had to say was, “Don’t make me feel like I’m back in America,” and the bickering stopped. I don’t know what it was, why that statement worked better than anything else I’ve ever shouted at my kids, but I do know I’m going to start yelling it at home, too, and see if it still has the same effect.
When we landed in Rome, we were shown to our apartment where we were given a brief tour by the owner’s representative before he wished us a pleasant stay and slipped out the front door. As I stood in the foyer and watched the door click shut behind him it occurred to me I was in Italy with absolutely nothing to do. It was 11:00 A.M. on the first day of our trip, and I had not one thing planned. The day followed a feverish 24-hours in which I raced around, pitching shoes and skirts and hats and everything else I might need for a 7-day trip into my suitcase before shoving my laptop and passport and flight information into a carry-on as the driver pulled up outside the house to take us to the airport. As the driver waited, I flicked off my computer, which I’d been working on until that moment, grabbed my bags and hustled out the door to take the trip to the airport where I boarded a six-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic. In the lead up to the trip I never once opened a travel guide, Googled an itinerary or downloaded a map, which may sound stupid or lazy or both but was really just a factor of time. Ordinarily, I research a destination until I could be a local guide myself, and I schedule every second down to the half-hour block of hammock time between 4:00 and 4:30 P.M. on day two, but with this trip I ran out of time.
We’d taken care of the main thing, though. We’d gotten ourselves there. And my husband and I had been to Italy once before so we didn’t feel the need to cram in every possible site to give ourselves the feeling we were having the best possible trip. So on that first day with no plan or schedule, which ordinarily would’ve sent me into heart failure, I drifted out of the apartment and into the bright morning light, not knowing where I was going. But I didn’t care. I was in Italy, and that was enough. My husband who was better prepared than I had downloaded a map app on his phone. As we headed down the cobblestone street, he gave it to our son to navigate us around because who cares where you wind up when you’re in Italy and there will be wine at the next stop?
That’s another thing I recommend – copious amounts of wine. Take every opportunity to sample the wine because it’s the best way to truly immerse yourself in the culture. And it keeps you open to anything your family wants to do, which was wander around and eat gelato. The perfect first day.
When we returned to the apartment that evening, though, I began to panic. A week was a long time to wander aimlessly, and I did actually want to see some historic sites and maybe one of the 7 Wonders of the World while we were at it. Rushing to my suitcase, I snatched my laptop and began frantically Googling tours of Rome and Venice. What if I was too late? What if everything was booked up? With my nose to the screen, I scrolled down the page as my eyes darted back and forth trying to scan all the tour descriptions at once. I needed a tour of the Vatican for four for tomorrow.
That day, the same one we landed in Rome, I miraculously managed to book all the tours for our trip. Of course, beggars can’t be choosers, and I feared I’d booked the bottom-barrel tours run by shady, unlicensed immigrants with no knowledge of the sites but what they gleaned off tourist brochures, which no one but those who couldn’t get in anywhere else and had travelled all the way to Europe with nothing planned took.
But that turned out not to be the case. The tours were all highly organized and professional, lead by enthusiastic, knowledgeable guides filled with fascinating facts. This good fortune only bolstered my spirits further, which I honestly didn’t think was possible. After the Vatican I was on a natural high although I don’t think the tour had the same effect on my son by the miserable expression on his face. But that’s the other thing – and this is key to having a wonderful time – you must ignore your children. I was so caught up in the stories of the artists and sculptures and paintings filling every square inch of wall space in the Vatican that I was oblivious to my son’s misery. It wasn’t until the end of the tour that I noticed his blank, little face, his eyes emotionless, black holes, staring back at me through the crowd. Still, he never once complained. For all of the three-hour tour, he was a trooper. Plus, we promised him gelato after every outing.This part is crucial. In order to have a good time with your #kids, you must ignore them. #ParentingTips Click To Tweet
After one of many gelato stops that day, we headed back to the apartment to get ready for dinner, and here is my final piece of advice for you. Listen closely because what I’m about to tell you is critical to the success of the mission: Allow your children a couple hours a day back at the room to play on their phones. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Whenever my kids were sluggish, trailing behind us on the crowded streets of Rome or looking bored and gloomy on the walking tours in Venice, all we had to do was mention electronics, and they perked right up. Quality time alone with their devices restores the natural balance. Electronics allow children to refuel and regain the vital energy they lost during the boring tour of the Sistine Chapel, and once they do, they are much better for it and much more agreeable dinner companions. Although I’m usually opposed all things electronic, I beseech you to employ this travel method. It will vastly improve your quality of life.
While the whole trip was rigged together, I don’t think it could have worked out any better if we’d planned it. Maybe because I’m the type of person who’s always waiting for something to go wrong, when nothing does, I’m completely overjoyed. And, on this trip nothing went wrong. In fact, everything went right, and nobody was more surprised than I.
If you like this, you’ll love, I Just Want to Be Perfect, the fourth book in The New York Times best-selling series. It doesn’t have anything to do with travel, but it is funny. And, I’m in it. What more could you ask for? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or order a signed copy direct from me: info @ onefunnymotha (dot) com.
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