PSST. Looking for a New Year's resolution you might actually keep?
Think vacation. Instead of those dreary promises to eat less and exercise more, make some changes that will guarantee you and the kids more fun and bang for your 1999 vacation buck. I don't know about you, but most of my well-intentioned resolutions didn't even last a week into the new year. No more beating myself up for that lack of willpower, though. Here's my list I actually might be able to keep to the millennium. See what your kids think about these on your next trip:
1. No more dragging the kids to historic sites and museums when they'd rather be swimming. It's their vacation too, as they tell me at least six times a day when we're away from home and doing something educational (read that boring). One ``site'' a day is plenty. Maybe some days we should just skip the ``must-see'' list altogether. What's wrong with a lazy morning watching TV in the hotel room? I just need to keep reminding myself that the museums and monuments will still be there next trip.
2. Let the kids lead the way, no matter how ridiculous, and incorporate their ideas into our itinerary. Why not stop for a half-hour at that alligator farm they keep advertising on the highway billboards? Besides, the kids will owe me one when there's something I want to do. Now I just have to figure out how to get them to buy into that idea.
3. Goodbye witch. I won't turn into a witch the night before a trip. I won't leave all the packing until the last minute. I won't do it all myself, either. From now on, I'm going to hand the kids a list of what they need to bring so they can lay out their own clothes before I throw them in the duffel. Even 7-year-old Melanie should be able to count out the right number of underwear and jeans. Even better, she'll have no one to blame when her favorite purple shirt gets left behind.
4. Bring on the egg rolls. I won't let the kids talk me into a steady diet of fast food, no matter how much they whine or how convenient it might be. We're going to opt for local ethnic spots where kids are always welcome, no matter how noisy. We're going to picnic more, too. This year, I'm not going to leave home without peanut butter and jelly.
5. Schedule a massage. This year, I'm going to make sure there's time for me on vacation. Sure, I still have to be tour guide, nurse, mediator and maid, but that doesn't mean I don't deserve a break too: a morning at a local art museum, an afternoon with a mystery novel or a kid-less dinner in a swank restaurant with my husband. All I have to do is plan ahead so everyone else is happily occupied and properly supervised.
6. Delegate drudge. I don't have to do the dishes or cook dinner every night on vacation, even if we have a kitchen in the mountain condo or beach cottage. Where's the take-out menu for that little Thai place we saw driving into town? I know there has to be a pizza place nearby, too. Even better, let dad and the kids take over kitchen duty for the entire day!
While we're on the subject, how much extra could maid service cost? I don't want to spend all week vacuuming or doing laundry, either. I bet the local Laundromat has wash-and-fold service. Where's that Yellow Pages?
7. Be wild and crazy. So what if I look ridiculous singing karaoke or screaming my lungs out on the upside-down roller coaster. The beauty of vacation is that you won't have to face these people in your office or at the next PTA meeting. Besides, you're guaranteed to create some lasting vacation memories for the kids.
8. Can the lock-step procession. Especially when we're vacationing with the extended family, I'm going to let everyone go in different directions. We don't have to move like a military company just because we've opted to spend a week together. To much togetherness and everyone will be sniping at each other before the trip is three days old.
9. Splurge a little. Even if it means I have to cut the trip shorter to toe the budget line, I'm going to book nicer, roomier places -- the ones that have suites instead of rooms, giant pools with water slides or are right next to the ski lift instead of a long walk to the ski-area shuttle bus. I won't spend every day of vacation worrying about how much we're spending, either. So what if the kids don't finish their pricey dinner? So what if the souvenir sweat shirts are ridiculously overpriced? I'm not going to let a little thing like money ruin my time.
10. Souvenirs for dinner. This year, I'm going to be organized enough to buy those great jars of Maine blueberry jam, Texas salsa, Minnesota wild rice and California olives so we'll have some souvenirs of the trip that aren't totally useless. They might even remind us of what a good time we had. I'm going to buy extra souvenirs for the kids, too -- the ones they crave but I refuse to pop for -- and stash them away for when they need a pick-me-up. This year, I'm going to remember where I hid them.
Happy New Year.
(c) 1999, Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate