“Yes, you have to eat your vegetables before you have dessert.”
“No, you shouldn’t ride your little sister around the living room as if she’s a horse.”
“Yes, you have to wear pants/shorts to school.”
This is just a sample of the things I’ve said to my kids on a given day. Daddying (yes, I made it a verb) is often extremely exhausting. Our kids are constantly testing the boundaries of our patience and sanity, and every sentence seemingly starts with us saying, “stop” and ends with us counting to three.
When I find myself staring at the ceiling in my bed after a long day of said daddying, I find myself wondering, “Man, I just want to be a kid again.” Don’t get me wrong, I love being a dad – but a dude needs a time out from all of the craziness and responsibilities every now and then.
That’s when Carnival came to save the day.
They offered to take my family on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise and I was super excited about it. Granted, I knew that true daddying never ceases, but at least I could let my hair down (wait, I don’t have any hair…searching for a comparable metaphor) err, kick back a bit and be a kid myself.
The best part about it is I found that being silly and carefree while on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine helped strengthen my already strong bond with my two young daughters.
So how did I pull it off?
First off, I wasn’t such a stickler when it came to dining. I told my girls that we were all operating on a “SeeFood Diet.” In other words – if you see food, you can eat it. Carnival could not be better in that regard, because the meal choices are plentiful and delicious.
I left my Veggie Police badge at home, and nobody was happier about that than my daughters. There were days when we ate pizza for breakfast and ice cream at 10:00pm.
Why did we do it? For the same reason that anyone does anything.
Because we could. The Carnival Sunshine has 24-hour pizza and ice cream onboard. Needless to say, that perk alone made it the best vacation ever for them (and for countless other kids on the ship, I’m guessing). And yes, I was one of those kids who enjoyed every bite.
Next up, we played games. Lots and lots of games. On sea days, we always found ourselves in the arcade. My daughters were so excited to have me play the games with them. I wasn’t a passive observer while they ran around like crazy – I was in the trenches as well. The smiles were nonstop, because as I mentioned before <insert link to previous post> creating memories with our kids is one of the most valuable exercises we can take part in as parents.
Finally we posed for silly photos. I wanted my daughters to know that I can take a break from being serious and be a complete clown. Even the Cat In the Hat didn’t know how to react to us.
I’m so incredibly thankful for having the opportunity to find my inner-kid again on that Carnival cruise because it made me become a better dad when I got home. Things that mattered so much beforehand didn’t matter as much anymore.
The kids skipped a serving of veggies? Big deal. They’ll survive.
The kids want to wrestle each other? Big deal. That’s what kids do. As long as they’re safe, I’m okay with it.
The kids don’t want to wear pants or shorts to school? Sorry, that’s just too bad. They need to learn that some things in life are non-negotiable.
Just like I’ve learned that being a kid myself at times is non-negotiable if I want to live a happy and balanced life.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.