BLOG: I’m on Vacation and it’s Raining…

For months I’d been anxiously planning our family spring break trip to Mexico for a week of relaxation (well, as relaxing as keeping up with a 2 ½ year old), warm temperatures, and rejuvenation. And yes, it was all of those things, but one particular day we woke to cloudy skies, a chilly breeze, and much to my misery – hours of steady rain. Not wanting my internal frustration to become contagious and infect my son, I decided upon a steady barrage of dance parties, pillow forts, pancake making, coloring, reading, blocks, and puzzles to keep us all entertained.

My genius plan occupied approximately 60 minutes. As a result, at around 8:30 a.m. I was left with the colossal question of what to do when you’re on vacation and the weather is simply not cooperating.

And so, I get it. You’ve managed to pack all your belongings - including all manners of contraptions to keep the kids happy, taken time off of work, and arrived at your summer vacation destination of beautiful Door County for a memorable week of outdoor adventure. The only problem is that the thermometer is holding steady at 55 degrees and the rain shows no sign of retreating. You need to think of something to keep everyone (especially yourself) happy, entertained, and sane.

As a teacher, I am fortunate enough to have time to spend with my son in summer. That stretch of time, combined with weekends and vacations during the rest of the year, has presented innumerable inclement days no matter how grand my plans were for a bike ride, hike, or day at the beach. As a result, I’ve conducted several experiments on what to do on days such as these – some successful, others complete failures.

Of course, there are an endless array of indoor opportunities in Door County, and depending on the age and interests of your kids, something as simple as visiting the array of unique shopping establishments is far superior to your trips to the mall back home.

However, if your children don’t take kindly to a day spent shopping (which is highly likely) perhaps an educational day at one of the maritime museums (Sturgeon Bay and Gills Rock) will provide some educational intrigue. I personally tested this idea out recently on an especially cold winter’s day. I won’t pretend that my curious, must-touch-everything, energetic toddler of 2 ½ appreciated or absorbed the intricacy with which the peoples indigenous to our peninsula crafted dugout and birch bark canoes, nor developed an appreciation for the nautical roots of the early settlers. However, what I’ve discovered is the 2 ½ year old brain can get excited over just about anything. And, as a parent, observing your child eagerly ‘tell’ you everything they are seeing is nothing short of wonderful. And somehow, even though the only words Arlo has in his vocabulary that he could use that day were ‘big’ and ‘boat’ he maintained a remarkable enthusiasm throughout our time at the museum.

What I realized at lunch with him afterwards is that the museum (which is worth a visit even on sunny days) could be anyplace. As time ticks on I am continually reminded and reinforced that less is more. Manufactured experiences can stunt the imagination, sometimes they fall short of being genuine and organic.  It’s a bit humbling to receive such an education from someone so small, but it’s a lesson of invaluable worth.

Additionally, I picked up another lesson from my son that rainy day in Mexico – when you’re on vacation and it’s raining – go outside and play in the rain…