As I write this, we are finishing up a week of skiing in the mountains of Colorado. We rented a house, and spent nearly every day on the slopes, with a couple of breaks for hiking and cross-country skiing. Our Christmas holidays were hectic, with lots of parties and celebrations, so escaping to the mountains was a welcome break. We have found that time together away from home, as a family unit, has been tremendous. It doesn’t have to be an expensive European vacation – simply camping in the woods or taking a road trip somewhere new for a weekend can be great. When our kids were babies and toddlers, we found that shaking up the “home routine”, by having them sleep in an unfamiliar bed, maybe altering meal times, and generally getting them out of their comfort zone every now and then was beneficial. They learned to adapt, and that while their environment might change, they were able to adjust and gain a sense of accomplishment by doing so. This might seem simple, but sometimes parents can get in a rut, especially with babies, by not wanting to alter their routine. The kids then become afraid of change, or wreak havoc if the slightest thing is out of place. On the other hand, some amount of routine is needed. If kids never have a consistent bed time or eat meals regularly, they never know what to expect and this can be an unsettling way of life. It’s about striking a balance, as with most things in life, right?
Our time in the mountains allowed us to reconnect, in an atmosphere that didn’t include work or school pressures. The kids enjoyed crawling into bed with a book or video game and surfacing only when they were hungry. I enjoyed alternating between books that made me learn and be introspective, and the latest John Grisham book that was just for fun. Steve puttered around the house until he realized that it was a rental and he didn’t have to do any maintenance, then he settled into his own book. We all enjoyed card games and excellent meals, and lots of talking around the dinner table. Stepping away from the day-to-day pressures of life and just spending time together is crucial to family harmony, and individual well-being. As we all head back to our busy lives, I’ll start looking at what to do over spring break…can’t wait!