Saturday, November 21, 2015

Life experiences with kids - how to live your bucket list as a parent

Earlier this year I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn't get to do much travel or tick much off my bucket list. My kids don't have passports (long and complicated reason why not) so I can't take them with me on some of the amazing adventures we have been offered like Spain and Japan and as a result, I opted not to go.

I was a little sad about it, but knew we would do other amazing things and I can push for passports later when my health is better. Australia has so much to offer anyway!

Last weekend we got to experience some of the amazing things on offer in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsular thanks to Adrenalin and their Share An Experience campaign.

As a parent, you can't just go somewhere on a whim, or so many think. If you prep your kids well beforehand and have that desire to travel and experience things and instil it in them, it's surprising what you can do.

How to get kids on board with travel and life experiences
1.) Let them choose some of it
We have conversations about things we want to do such as travel to America, swim with dolphins, ride a hot air balloon etc. When they see things on TV shows they would like to do we talk about it and how we would like to do it. My daughters have their own bucket lists as well. They like being able to set goals and have some say in the things they do in their life.

2.) Get them involved in the planning
My daughters are involved in the process of deciding how we will get somewhere, our budget, what we will do and see, where we go and so on. Being involved makes them feel part of the trip, they understand what goes into the amazing experiences we have and it means when we say no to something, they are a lot more understanding because they know why.

It really is that simple to get kids excited, involved and willing to participate in whatever it is you want to do.

How to travel and do these experiences with kids
Travelling with kids can be trickier, it takes longer, there are unexpected delays (toilet stops, food, motion sickness and fighting to name a few...). It is not the same as being single or part of a couple where you can throw a few things in a bag and go. Travelling and things with kids requires a lot more planning, but it is still doable.

1.) Have a travel bag
My kids each have a small suitcase they can carry themselves. They have learnt to roll and pack enough clothing for a few days, toiletries, a mini pillow and their favourite blanket into these suitcases. Having a bag specifically for travel means whenever we are going, they don't have to empty their school bag or rummage around trying to find something. It also means they are used to packing the same bag, know what fits, how to make things fit and how to pack it effectively.

2.) Lists
We work off lists. Lists of things we want to do and achieve (aka bucket list), lists for what to pack depending on where we are going and for how long. Lists of what needs to be done before we can go eg arranging someone to feed our chickens, taking the trash out, clean house etc.

My kids write their own list, I check it then we work from it.

3.) Make it fun!
We drove to Melbourne from Canberra. That is nearly 7 hours from our house to the city centre where we were staying, potentially a long and boring drive. We focussed on what we were doing once in Melbourne, I made it clear the drive is longer than a whole day spent at school, we stopped at places along the way including "The Dog on the Tucker Box" which they had learnt about at school

And the submarine at Holbrook where they got to explore the museum, look through a periscope and climb all over the submarine.

We talked, sang, they drew pictures and did some school work on their iPads. Travel is what you make it, if you expect it to be long and boring, it will be.

4.) Let them record it through their own eyes
My kids get to take pictures, record themselves doing things, have mini interviews and learn all about the digital ways to record it plus they pick up brochures everywhere and create their own travel journal. Unfortunately, there were some technical glitches so I don't have the video of them I wanted to share.

5.) Go with the flow
Things do not go as planned. Learn to adapt quickly, always be confident in front of your kids. When they suspect you don't know what is happening or you are stressed, it makes them stressed and they act out. For a calmer trip, you need to keep your cool. Kids make messes, flights get delayed, people get sick, weather impacts on activities. Don't let it put a damper on what you are planning on doing, instead, think outside the box and try something else.

On the weekend we swam with dolphins in the morning (our experience was booked with Adrenalin here), which was high on my 6yr olds bucket list. She delighted seeing them jump in the waves the boat made and getting to be so close to them. She did not expect the water to be so cold though and didn't stay in for long. Anyway, between that and the horse riding in the afternoon (another activity they delight in, which we will definitely do more of. Our exact experience was this one), we had a few hours to fill and were considering hanging out on the beach more until we saw a poster advertising a school fete that day, so we went to it.

It was not in our 'plans' but we had so much fun! Going with the flow, changing things when the opportunity comes up can enrich your experience if you let it.

Kids can do more than you think they can
We had a full on few days. Driving Canberra to Melbourne then in the following days we had this hot air balloon ride, which we got up at 4:30am for, followed by a helicopter ride

then we finished the day with a spa watching the sunset over Melbourne.

The next morning we were up early again to get to the Mornington Peninsular in time for our swim with dolphins, followed by the school fete and the horse riding

You can do anything you want to do and having kids shouldn't stop you from getting out there and marking things of your bucket list, sharing experiences with friends and family, travelling and do all that you want to do in your life! Make sure you check out Adrenalin and their Share An Experience campaign for discounts and your chance to win an experience!

What are your tips for travelling or doing life experiences with kids?

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