It’s All About the Pace

Yesterday we were told by an acquaintance, “Keep in mind that the kids will need downtime. They will probably go crazy in some museums.”

This morning I got an email  from a woman who recently took her 9-year-old twins to Amsterdam. She started by saying, “My husband and I both thought they were whiny brats!” She then clarified that, in retrospect, she realized they weren’t so bad considering they had endured 12 hours of flights and up to 2 1/2 hours in some of the museum lines.

Later today, I was walking with some friends, and one of them said, “The kids won’t remember much from the trip.”

It’s become a theme. Not that we haven’t thought about this theme; I personally have thought about it a lot. Our original plan had been to rent a house in a small village for 2 months and just kick back…learn what it’s like to live in a foreign country and stroll to the local boulangerie each morning to get our pains au chocolat. But we had to cut back that dream when we learned more about the Schengen Zone and visa concerns as we wanted more than an additional month to explore the rest of Europe.

But, we assured ourselves, we would still do this at a leisurely pace. We wouldn’t do 1 or 2 night stays; we would extend our stays in most locations. And then somehow our route ended up looking like this:


I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. This is our actual itinerary. Looking at it makes me realize that we are doing anything but taking this at a leisurely pace. Or that it had been planned with any type of logical thought process.

So, we remind ourselves that our itinerary is a little more insane complex than originally intended, but that we will still take it at a pace the kids can handle. When we go to an art museum, we’ll hit the gift shop first. We’ll let the kids pick out a favorite postcard and then search for that painting. If the kids need a day off, we’ll find a local park and let them run. If the day’s plans are going awry and we find ourselves with becoming whiny brats, we’ll change our plans. When we feel like we are skipping something important, we’ll remind ourselves that this doesn’t have to be our only trip to Europe (until we look at our bank account and realize maybe it does).

And then, I plan. And I fall into that trap that so many of the major sites have set up so professionally.

“Book 7 days in advance — save 25%!”

“Take a look at the online calendar! Notice that there is currently NO availability for June or July!”

“Book online and avoid all the lines! But hurry, space is limited!”

Before I know it, I have my wallet out, and I’m buying tickets for a site we haven’t even confirmed we were going to see. I’m checking to see how many days in advance I need to book to get the best deal and which calendars are already looking really full. And the downtime we were looking for in Bath is filled up with side trips to Longleat and Stonehenge.

So much for spontaneity. Planned spontaneity seems to be more my thing.

And I have it on the calendar for August 2nd.


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