“Only boring people are boring.”
Raise your hand if you’ve said it. Now, raise both if you’ve said it on vacation. Yup, just because you take the kids out of the house doesn’t mean the familiar “I’m bored” refrain comes to an end. The veiled accusation behind every utterance? That you’ve failed them as a parent in allowing 10 whole minutes to pass where they had less than a million gadgets to play with.
A trip to the laid-back Caribbean where life runs at a slower pace can pose an especially tricky challenge for kids used to having a tech device and lightning-fast WiFi at their fingertips.
Sure, they need to slow down, but the truth is, not every kid is great at seeing sand castle possibilities on an open beach. And not every parent knows how to turn an afternoon of market touring into a scavenger hunt. “What are we supposed to do with all this free time?!?”
A little preparation and perseverance are the keys to getting kids – and yourself – to embrace the chill.
1. Turn it over to the professionals
There is only so much room in a vacationing brain and no more than a tiny percentage of it should be used for monitoring your child’s activity happiness. Consider booking your stay in a place where there will be built-in options for fun and other adults who are happy to watch your kids while they have it. At Club Med Columbus Isle, the secluded Bahamas location makes it one of the quieter island getaways. Older kids will love options such as the Wakeboarding Academy in the summers and beach volleyball games year-round. At Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros Island in the Bahamas a nature-focused kids’ program keeps them busy during the day alongside the world’s third largest barrier reef. Plus, complimentary babysitting (for children between 2 and 7 years old, from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.) helps keep them entertained when parents want an evening off.
2. Teach them to plan for boredom
While your personal carry-on bag may hold mandatory beach staples such as your e-reader and three Instagram-worthy swimsuits, encourage your kids to pack items in theirs that can keep boredom at bay. An iPad may be an option, but it’s likely not how you want them spending an entire vacation. Instead, include new books and travel-size games. Packing an instant “ice-breaker” kit (include a deck of cards or an extra sand shovel) can be the best way to turn that other miserable kid at the property into a new friend.
3. Make it a teaching moment
Encourage the kids to check out the website of the island you’re visiting or the hotel you’ll be staying in. A quick peek around may be all it takes to get them on board. Make a list of the things they’d most like to try and have it handy on the days they claim boredom. Finding all the spots turtles are lurking around the Melia Caribe Tropical in the Dominican Republic or learning about the herbs in the chef’s garden at a resort in St. Lucia can turn afternoon malaise into renewed excitement. It’ll reduce their anxiety about what to expect and give you a good reason to get up off the loungers to join them.
4. Don’t take your kids on a romantic getaway
You may think you want a remote location with endless miles of white sand and absolutely nothing to do, but you may be confusing a couples’ getaway with a family trip. That’s not to say you can’t choose a quiet island. Places such as Anguilla – with 33 pristine white sand beaches and a range of gourmet restaurants to choose from – offer up a good mix of opportunities for family and couple time. Wholesome experiences (take the old-fashioned tug of war and three-legged races that happen on Meads Bay Beach at the Four Seasons Resorts and Residences for example) and fun, interactive parent-free play (kids can don mermaid/mermen tails at Zemi Beach House Hotel & Spa) happen just out of earshot of sophisticated dining and romantic settings. Win-win.
5. Go wireless
Really want to pump up their “entertain yourselves” muscles? Head for a spot where there are no TVs, no phones and no WiFi. On the island of Petit St. Vincent there is only one resort and guests are encouraged to tune out the world. Instead, time is spent kayaking, sailing and mastering the art of the hammock nap. There is internet access in the hotel reception, but unless you share that information with the kids you could settle into a YouTube detox for a few days. It’s one of many spots across the Caribbean trying to include the option of eschewing technology. The tricky part for parents? You’ll need to give it up, too. Which, if you think about it, might be the best way to teach them that you are the perfect, non-boring, role model.