Peyton and Addy at Great Wolf Lodge.
Tip 1: Chill out
You're supposed to be on vacation… relax, I kept telling myself. (OK, so I use the term "vacation" loosely — I don't get out much.) As you know, we schlepped the kids to Niagara Falls's famed Great Wolf Lodge for one night earlier this week. I repeatedly reminded myself to relax. So what if we didn't leave on time? So what if we had to stop at a not-so-immaculate doughnut shop so I could take Addy into the bathroom just so she could tell me she was kidding and didn't really have to pee? So what if I was super excited to show the kids the Falls and they couldn't care less about one of the seven wonders of the world? I learned early on that I needed to chill. It's not something I do well, but I tried.
Tip 2: Beg for an early check-in. Or even one that's on time
We arrived at the Lodge, waiting in the check-in line, and registered at about 2:15 p.m. Check-in is at 4 p.m. We were told it probably wouldn't take long for our room to be ready, and we were welcome to hang out in the lobby. So we did. The kids got their faces painted and one of the employees made balloon animals for everyone. By 3 p.m. the kids were restless. By 4 p.m. I had to remind myself of Tip 1. We were given access to our room at about 4:10, but I wish we'd either inquired about a possible early check-in, or that the front desk had told us we were welcome to take the kids into the water park. We'd never been, we didn't know what we could do (besides hang out in the lobby) and it was frustrating sitting around with excited, restless kids.
Tip 3: Tell sweet little lies...
Yup, that's what I said. If your kids are like mine and they're young enough not to know better, it's OK to either keep things secret or tell wee white lies to make your stay more enjoyable, cheaper, tear-free, etc. I might've told the kids that the arcade was for big kids only (because I couldn't bear the thought of hanging out in there with a billion kids). I might've told them that the expensive stuffed animals they saw in the gift shop had to stay at the resort because that's where they lived. I might've told them that if they didn't listen in the water park we'd be kicked out and forced to leave immediately.
Tip 4: …But do a little spoiling, too
My aunt, uncle and cousins live in Ottawa, and I remember visiting one summer -— the same summer that Adidas tearaway pants and those ridiculous teeny-weeny backpacks were super cool and I begged my mom to buy them for me when we went to the mall. (Pretty sure my dad was sitting in the middle of the mall somewhere not interested in shopping, so I only had to beg one parent.) I ended up getting them, which was crazy awesome. That's part of the reason why we took the kids to the Hershey's store in Niagara and let them gorge on chocolate-covered strawberries. It's also why I paid — wait for it — $89 (including tax and tip) on two manicures for the girls at the kiddie salon at the resort. My shellacs don't cost as much, but I told the kids they could get their nails done like big girls, so we coughed up the dough. The look on their little faces while they sat still and got pink and purple polish was worth it.
Tip 5: If you lose it, try not to do it in a public area
So I had a bit of a meltdown when I was stuck in a bathroom stall with the girls trying to change out of my swimsuit before we left (after checkout). The girls weren't impressed that we were leaving, they were super tired, not listening and clearly didn't like being stuck in a stall with me. (If you were in the main floor women's room the other day at Great Wolf Lodge and heard a mother freaking out at her kids while you were trying to tinkle, my apologies — I'm not perfect. I lost it.) I guess Peter, who was changing his shorts in peace in the men's room next door, heard me going nuts and hurried it up because I heard him tell me he was finished and I could send the kids out. Note to self: Try not to freak out in a restroom at a children's resort.
Tip 6: Go on a few easy trips until you attempt the biggies
Now that we've done the overnight thing with the girls, I'm not as terrified to do it again. And I'm planning to get more practice in the art of travelling with kids before our 2015-ish trip to Disney World.
Anyone bringing the kids along on any holidays soon?
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