Want to get your kids to quit bickering and actually enjoy one another’s company? Or maybe you too have a teenager that you would like to actually engage with the family and quit looking at all of you like extraterrestrials?
Solution: leave civilization, pack your family into the smallest space available to you, go somewhere that everything you do will be together, and limit electronics to a minimum (or leave them all together).
We just got back from a family vacation to the Grand Canyon. Three out of six nights we spent in hotel rooms, and the other three we were in a rather nice cabin. That is to say, it’s not as though we were roughing it by any means. At one point our teenager said about our cabin “I bet we’d all get along better if we lived in a small house like this, it would be kind of fun”. Did I mention that it was about 300 square feet! We piled onto one couch in the living room together or onto a bed or two in the hotels. We gathered around campfires, we explored together, laughed together, and sweat together.
On the way down we spent two days in the car. I think the three kids scarcely interacted. They watched their own DVD players, played on their phones, and my teenager almost always had her nose in her book. But my how things changed on the return trip. Those two days they laughed, threw things across the car to each other, and watched movies together. As we speak my teenager and 7 year old are singing a Hannah Montana song together and the three of them went on a bike ride to the park together today.
Had I known this would happen, I would have thrown them in the car and gone into the wilderness long before now. My husband and I are already planning a local family camp out for early summer.