What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Paradise Island

AndyIt’s back to school once again. For those of you with children in school, these past weeks have likely been filled with multiple shopping trips for supplies, clothes, shoes, and then back again. I know mine have.

Prior to this frenzy, my kids and I enjoyed a few days in the Bahamas – Paradise Island to be exact. And paradise it was! From the moment I saw the blue-green water from the air, I felt a rush of peace and relaxation fall over me that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Almost six years to be exact. That’s right. Six years since our last real vacation. That, my friend, is way too long!

We had a terrific time. We had encounters with dolphins, visited the Atlantis Aquarium, and just spent some quiet time on the beautiful beaches enjoying the water, sunshine, shopping, and laughing about the silly things we would see. The time went by much too quickly and we were all sad as we stood in the customs line declaring our key chains and T-shirts.

I learned a lot on this vacation – not only about myself but my children. Some things surprised me and others were simply a validation for what I already knew.

My daughter is clearly the risk-taker in our family. It was she who wanted to swim with the dolphins, go down the 150-foot water slide at Atlantis, and dance in the hotel lounge with no one on the dance floor.

Here’s where I stood on this:

Since she was too young to do the dolphin swim and her mom is a scaredy-cat with expensive contact lenses, we chose to do the dolphin encounter instead – hugging, feeding, dancing, and yes, even a kiss on the cheek from “Andy”. Loads of fun and much safer.

She also was too young to do the water slide. There was no compromise here but luckily the weather did not cooperate and the park was closed. We all settled on a very cool tour of the Atlantis Aquarium. Giant manatees, jelly fish and a bit of history about the ‘original’ Atlantis. A bit of learning and coolness mixed together.

Dancing. I love to dance but I was not going out on that empty dance floor despite my daughter’s pleadings. Unwilling to accept that, she went on her own and joined a group of other kids who took the stage. I stood in amazement at her courage and free spirit.

On the other hand – there’s my son who clearly takes after his mother in the risk-aversion category. He chose not to participate in the dolphin experience. However, he quickly regretted this decision and this taught him a valuable lesson.

We had a great conversation afterwards where we discussed that sometimes you have to push through your fears and just do it. I explained to him that I too was a little fearful of these beautiful creatures, but I looked at this as a once in a lifetime experience and forced myself to ‘get over it.’  I’m so glad I did.

Here’s what I learned from my children on this 3-day adventure.

  • I need to take a lesson from my daughter and have more fun. All work and no play make Jen a dull girl.
  • I need to continue to push through silly fears that do nothing but keep me stuck.
  • I need to work in a bit more quiet time. Too much busy-ness leaves you exhausted and burnt out.T

These are important lessons – ones I will treasure always.

Paradise Island

I hope you are paying attention to the lessons your children are teaching you as this new school year begins. Listen when they talk about their day – search for what they are not saying, as well as what they do say.

Here’s a helpful hint for having a conversation with your children, ask open-ended questions.

For example:

Instead of “Do you have homework?” ask “What do you have for homework?”
Instead of “How was the test” ask “What kinds of questions were on the test?”

See the difference? It’s all about engaging them in conversation, rather than fact finding.

The time you spend talking with your children will pay off as both of you will gain valuable insights into each other which builds trust and deepens the relationship.

Pay attention!

Jen’s Gem: Your children teach you lessons every day. Be open to learn.

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