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The Four Hour Expedition

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:37pm


Despite the rising costs of going just about anywhere with a child, I tend to take my DS on a number of outings. This of course can be both expensive and time consuming. Now that preschool is out, expedition planning is in full gear.

Now that The Hamster is 5-years-old, longer expeditions are possible without worrying about nap time. His attention span is greater, so we can presumably cover an entire attraction. Physically he is tall enough to go on many more rides. Intellectually he is ready to understand more museums.

So, we plan bigger, longer events…well, no.

Since he was quite small – somewhere after the “lug anywhere in the sling” stage, I began to limit the amount of time we spent on outings. Four to five hours seems about right to me.

Staying within this time frame prevents a classic, lousy local condition. Staying in this time frame means what we do see, we enjoy more. Staying in this time frame means we are pleasantly, not crankily, tired at the end of the day. Staying in this time frame means I don’t feel guilty about pushing him and he doesn’t whine. Staying in this time frame means fewer fights break out among tired kids.

Our theory is to see a few things well and leave the rest for another day. Locally this works rather well as then we have something to do when we go back. On vacation, this requires a new mindset because…well, who knows when you will be back?

True, sometimes we miss something important. (Visiting a museum last year while on vacation, we spent little time viewing an ancient Roman mosaic. A few months later it was partially destroyed by a natural disaster.) Sometimes it’s hard to fight the niggling feeling that I’m not getting my money’s worth when I spend $100 or more for us to visit an amusement park. Sometimes after a 1-1/2 drive I feel I’ve spent more time in the car than at the attraction.

But, in the long run, I think it’s more important to remember a thoroughly enjoyable day than a thorough one. The Hamster may disagree with this approach someday but, for now, it works for me.

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