Last week, my family took a vacation to Hilton Head Island. I realized on the long car ride home, that the carefree enthusiasm my daughter – who turns three today – displayed with everything she approached on the trip provided some tangible life lessons we should all strive to live by:
Less is more
Everyday we’d foolishly lug a bag full of toys and balls to the beach, only to see her use just a bucket and little shovel. Too many possessions weigh us down and keep us from focusing on what’s truly important in that moment – in her case, that was spending countless hours building sandcastles.
Live it up
Hanging on the beach, hitting the pool, going out to dinner, taking a bike ride, nap time – whatever it was we said we were doing, she not only took it in stride, but she leaned in hard. Vacations are meant for fun and a simpler life, and her enthusiasm toward all that we did reflected that tenfold.
Go until you drop
At home, my daughter still requires an afternoon nap and a reasonable bedtime. On vacation, she would go until we told her it was time to not go anymore. When it was finally time for bed, she crashed hard, but sleep took a distant backseat to her priority of experiencing everything vacation had to offer.
Go with the flow
Anyone with toddlers knows, most simple requests, activities and tasks aren’t easy anymore. “Why” and “no” are words that entered her lexicon in full force this year and are used more frequently than we’d prefer. Vacation seemed to lift any friction, as she was content with whatever we were doing. I’d like to think simply being with her family was enough for her.
You would’ve thought she was the Hilton Head Island Welcoming Committee at times throughout our trip. Studies show that simply saying “hi” to people can make you a happier person. If this is the case, I am raising one happy kid, because she was not shy from introducing herself and initiating conversation with other vacationers.
Bonus from my son: play with the big kids
My nearly one-year-old son is obviously a little less active and mobile than my daughter, but that didn’t stop him from trying to keep up with her at all times. I’m proud of the way he pushed himself to try to do the things she did (i.e., crawling into the ocean) and kept up with our vacation schedule (i.e., all day on the beach, out for dinner, going to bed much later than usual).
Author’s note: I reserve the right to edit/add/delete from this list following any subsequent family vacations, in anticipation of less smooth, enjoyable voyages, especially during any potentially moody teenage years.
-By Steve Michalovich, Regular Contributor