Earlier this month I spent a week in Mexico with my two kids. Like any adventure, it was full of precious moments, a few meltdowns and many life-lessons, including:
The best things in life don’t require an iPad.
Throughout the week my kids surfed and swam in the ocean. They kayaked and ziplined. They took a speed boat and saw a whale. They held baby monkeys and murdered a genuine Mexican piñata, delighting in the treats that rained down.
None of this required electronics, and much to their own surprise, they didn’t just survive, they thrived.
For once, what was in front of them was way more interesting and entertaining than what was on the screen.
Life is not an all-inclusive
Because we stayed in an apartment in a small town my kids were able to see more and do more than they would have had we opted for an all-inclusive. Travelling with people who knew the area made this possible, and thanks to their experience we travelled by city bus, visited secluded beaches and ate at local restaurants.
I don’t have anything against all-inclusives and for some trips that’s the only way to go. But I really felt like we got a more authentic experience by travelling this way. I loved watching my kids’ eyes widen as a flock of chickens crossed the road. Watching them turn their noses up at real Mexican tacos was less fun but I was proud of the overall experience because it added to our sense of adventure.
In many families around the world, everyone contributes.
In Mexico, we saw grandmothers cooking, big kids taking care of babies, little kids sweeping streets and children of all ages selling goods on the street and beach.
While it’s easy to see those scenes through rose-coloured glasses, assuming it’s all harmonious and by choice instead of necessity, I was happy to have a reason to talk to my kids about what their lives might look like if they’d been born into different circumstances.
And the idea that everyone, no matter how young, has an important role in making a family run, is one I’ve taken home.
Even on vacation, mommy has limits.
Like any family vacation, the week wasn’t all rainbows and roses. Mommy gave them a lot of rope but sometimes she pulled it back in.
My kids learned that just because you’re on vacation and it’s fun fun fun 24/7, doesn’t mean mommy is going to:
- let a strange man take you for donkey ride.
- Have 7UP with breakfast
- Let you forego the underpants when out in public
We battled the same behaviours and triggers we battle every day at home, but at least here the sun was shining and the tequila was flowing.
Even mommies have to poop in the street sometimes
Upon arrival I read my kids the riot act about drinking the water, and we avoided anything with crushed ice. This worked for three days but on the fourth, the vacation Gods decided we’d been spared long enough and they hit me with a case of traveler’s diarrhea that can only be described as biblical in proportion.
Unfortunately this happened in someone’s garden, pretty much in the middle of town, one block north of the market we had (until then) been going to every day for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Pooping in the street was a life low point but at least now my kids will know I’m serious if I yell “hold the bags!” and take off running. I appreciated their cooperation but I would have been more grateful for toilet paper, a very wide-brimmed hat and a something to teleport me away from the scene.
The only question now is, where to next?