10 Things You Learn After Having Kids

There’s no manual on having kids.  That’s one of the first things I remember being told after we first became parents.  That was over eight years ago, but the words still ring true.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent that often feels like a manual would sure come in handy.  Though one doesn’t exist, there are some truths that I’ve learned.  Here are things you learn after having kids that I bet ring true for many out there.

You’ll Parent Like You Were Parented

Nobody is an exact replica of their parents.  But, on many occasions I’ve seen my parents come through in what I do.  My wife has pointed out the same thing.  While we all end up with our own unique styles, our parents have influence on this.

You’ll Learn While Teaching

One of our primary jobs as parents is to teach our children.  We need to make sure they’re prepared to face the world.  I’ve learned that as we do this with our kids, I learn from them.  Until you’re a parent, you often don’t question how thoughts and emotions develop.  Watching this develop is a true learning process.

You Often Feel Like A Huge Failure

image from Morguefile courtesy of DodgertonSkillhause

Things are going to go wrong.  Your kids will have bad days.  You’ll have bad days.  Or moments.  Sometimes things will fall apart, with or without reason.  You’re going to blame yourself.  You’re going to take it personally.  When someone tells you not to do these things, you’ll do them anyways.

The good news is that you’ll get through it.

Your Relationship With Your Significant Other Will Change

Before you’re a parent, it’s just the two of you. That all changes the second your baby is born.  Not only does it change right then, your relationship will continue to evolve.  I’m guessing that process might slow down, but will forever evolve.

You’ll Feel Physical Pain For Them

When you first hold your baby, you’ll promise them that you’ll never let anything hurt them.  But the world will hurt them. They’ll have physical pain and emotional pain.  As a parent, you’ll suffer with them. Your heart will physically hurt when their heart is breaking.  It sucks, but it shows you’re looking out for them in ways that only parents can.

Time Really Does Move Faster

Everybody always says that time seems to move faster when you’re a parent.  Guess what?  It’s completely true.  From my  estimation, time as a parent moves twice as fast as what the child experiences.  Don’t think it’s cliche when someone tells you to cherish moments.

The Best Way To Teach Is By Example

Going back to an earlier point, we need to teach our kids.  The thing about it is that they’ll learn many life lessons from your actions.  You can’t tell a child not to yell but then fight with your spouse regularly.  It won’t work if you admonish a child for a messy room if the house is in shambles.  Kids learn by watching.  They watch their parents.

Kids Need You To Listen

As a parent, you want to impart the wisdom that you have onto your kids.  This is a noble intention, and it sometimes works.  But, every so often, you just need to shut up and listen.  Sometimes kids come to you not looking for an answer.  Be that person when they need you to be.

Kids Know When You Aren’t Listening

In this day in age, it’s easy to get distracted.  Phones.  TVs.  Tablets.  They all take you away from what’s in front of you.  Kids will learn quicker than you think that if you’re paying attention to those things, you’re not giving them your full attention.  Nobody likes to be patronized.  Not even kids.

Sometimes It’s Important To Play

Kids love to play.  At a young age, play time is their job.  They learn how things work.  They figure out relationships.  Social cues are learned.  And, every so often, they need you to play with them.  Every once in a while when my kids are playing, I’ll ask “Can I play?”  So far, they haven’t told me know.  And, so far I’ve always been happy I asked.

Readers, what lessons have you learned from having kids?  How do the ones above strike you?  

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

10 Thoughts On Our First Week Long Camping Trip of 2017

We generally do a week long camping trip twice per summer.  One is always over the 4th of July week.  We wrapped up our trip and it was a success.  I thought I’d share some of our (mostly) ups and downs, as well as a few laugh out loud moments.

The Popularity of Outdoor Activities Is Increasing

Driving on the freeway to get back and forth to the campground showed just how popular outdoor activities have become.  Michigan is always home to great summer activities and always has been.  However, even versus a few years ago, you can see a tremendous uptick.  The number of campers and boats shows that more and more have climbed out of the hole of the Great Recession.

Fireworks Don’t Work At 11:30

We’ve stayed at this campground before, but this was our first time staying for the 4th.  We were pretty excited when we found out that there was a fireworks display scheduled.  Everybody headed down to the lake shortly before dusk, which was around 10pm.  We waited, and waited and waited some more.  We’re quite a bit north and it was clear sky, so it didn’t get pitch black until past 10:30pm.  We figured they’d start then.  Nope.

It was a full hour after that before they started.  By that time, our kids had enough and were already in bed.  Our son was half asleep and enjoyed listening to them, anyway.  But, really, who in their right mind starts a fireworks display at 11:30pm?

A Bigger Gas Tank And Engine Saved A Stop

Most of our longer trips seem to be around 250 miles away from home.  With the old Buick towing, we would always have to stop for gas.  It was around a 20 gallon tank, and generally got around 10 MPG when towing.  I got a truck with a 26 gallon tank, and we averaged 12 miles per gallon, so we ended up saving a stop.  When towing, finding a gas station that’s RV friendly always adds another layer of complexity, so I was happy to avoid that part!

The Unlucky Made The Best Of It

Remember above how I said camping is more popular than ever?  This is especially true on the 4th, when just about every site in the state is booked.  We were able to snag two adjacent sites for our entire time, and they had a lake view to boot!  Others weren’t so lucky, but made the best of it.  Many people were able to get a stay at the park, but had to move sites at least once.  I saw one camper in at least three different spots.  Yikes!

Saving $80 Was Cool

We got a note a few weeks before our trip that the campground had been having sewer troubles.  They had a line break on three separate occasions.  During these, people that were camping couldn’t use the bathrooms or showers.  They had to use port-a-potties or pit toilets.  They allowed people to either cancel their reservation or offered a $10 reduction in fees to take the chance on staying.  Since we knew everything anywhere else was booked, we took the chance.  Thankfully, the bathrooms worked perfectly, so we saved $80 by taking a chance!

It Finally Got Easier With The Kids

When we started camping with our trailer, the kids were 3 and 1.  That was tough. Someone was always napping or eating or melting down and both needed pretty constant supervision.  The kids have grown, but even last year, neither was riding a bike without training wheels.  We always knew it’d get easier where they could be more independent, and this year it hit us that we were finally there.  Nobody needed a nap, they were flexibile with the meal times, and were able to do a lot on their own.

4th of July Trips Are Bad For My Awning

During the first year we had our trailer, the awning broke during a freak thunderstorm.  It almost happened again.  This time there was no thunder or rain, just wind.  We were sitting at the beach when it got really cloudy and dark and the wind started picking up.  In the five minute walk back, it was so bad that when we turned around, all we saw was a cloud of sand.  We ran back to the site and my in-laws and wife (who had walked back a few minutes earlier) were holding down the awning as it was bouncing around furiously.  Through the wind, we were able to get it rolled up, but it really seems that thing is cursed on these 4th of July trips!

Staying Healthy Worked….Sort Of

I wrote a couple of months ago that I knew these trips would put my fitness success at risk.  Between exercising less, eating more extravagent meals, and indulding in more alcohol, these trips had potential of derailing a lot of the success I’ve worked for.

Well, while I didn’t do great, I don’t think I did half bad.  I definitely found I was more strict at the beginning and

Image from morguefile courtesy of kzinn

less so at the end.  Still, I did pretty good on portion control and cutting back on my liquor intake throughout.  Snacking was the only area that I lost a little willpower on, but it was still better.  Plus, I ran three times during the trip.  Overall, this wasn’t perfect but it could have been a lot worse!

We Need New Meals

We’ve developed some pretty cool meals.  We have a good mix of campfire, grill, and comfort food meals.  But, many agreed that we’re starting to get a bit repetitious.  We never had a bad meal that I can remember, but very little of the dinners were exciting.  It’s time to shake things up, I think!

Tomato Plants Can Double In Size In A Week

We bought two little tomato seedlings at the farmers market back in May.  They grew quite a bit in the weeks before our trip.  Still, we were shocked when the doubled again in size in just the week or so that we were gone.  And it didn’t even rain!  The watering all came from our neighbors who helped us out.  Now, we have lots and lots of tomatoes on the way!

Readers, have you done anything fun so far this summer? What fun have you had or do you have planned?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Trading Less Stuff For More Memories

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that vacations and such are a very big thing for our family.  We love to camp.  An annual trip to an indoor water park is almost required.  We’ve had a couple of great trips down to Florida.  We have really come to notice how our family just works so well when we’re on the move.   Over time, we have created many more memories through our travel than in many other areas of life.

Experiences Turn Into More Memories

After our last trip, we sat down and talked as a family.  Even though our kids are young (7 and 5), we talked to them about our trip and how great it was.  We also talked about how much vacations mean to us.  Part of our discussion centered on how many things they remember from our various trips.

The kids got it right away.  They started talking about trips that we’ve taken for as many years back as their young minds can remember.  Remember that time at Disney?  Oh yeah, and that one time at the water park!

It was really cool to watch.

Tossing Out The Idea Of A Trade Off

We talked to the kids and pointed out that trips seem to create more memories.  They fully agreed. They got the point right away that even though they’ve had lots of cool gifts along the way, that they are harder to remember as time goes on.  Ask them about a gift they got three years ago and they might remember it, but bring up a trip the same time, and they’ll definitely throw out some recollections.

That’s pretty cool.

So, we brought up the idea of, as a family, starting to cut back on gifts.  We wouldn’t eliminate them altogether, but

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

instead of, for example, six gifts at Christmas, maybe we get three.  The difference would be put aside so that we could make sure that we have the means to travel.

What do you think they said?

It was an enthusiastic YES!

Putting This Into Practice

Our kids birthdays are coming up in the next couple of months. We started talking about plans for their birthday, and our daughter (the five year old) brought up, without prompting, that she would be getting fewer gifts.

And she was 100% cool with it.  She totally got it!  That brought a warmth to our heart.

So, we’ll see how things go.  The kids agreed.  My wife and I even agreed with each other that we’d cut back.  Our ten year anniversary is coming up this fall, and we already discussed instead of getting each other a bigger gift, which is something we’d been talking about, that maybe we would…..

…take a small trip instead.

🙂

Bet you saw that one coming?

Readers, how do you balance ‘stuff’ with ‘experiences’ in your household?  Have you ever made an active and conscious trade-off as we’re putting out there?  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.  Thanks so much for reading.

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Breaking Down Our Madeira Beach Vacation

A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying life a little bit more.  As they say, life is always better at the beach!  We took a family trip down to Florida.  Here are some things I thought I’d share about our Madeira Beach vacation.

Familiarity Helps

We rented a condo that worked out great for us.  What really helped is that we’ve stayed in this condo complex before.  Back in 2010 we took a trip, also with my in-laws and stayed in a different unit.  On top of that, this area was where my wife and her family vacationed when she was a girl.  So, knowing so much about the area in general was a big help too.  Familiarity definitely helped improve our Madeira Beach vacation.

We Saved On Travel But Added Stress

Originally we were planning to drive, but ended up flying.  However, since all public schools in Michigan are off at the same time, the airlines all jacked up their prices flying out of Detroit.  We found some great fares out of Columbus, Ohio, which was about a four hour drive.  Saving money was great, but the added stress of driving kept me on edge.  After all, it would only take one accident along the way to take away our cushion.  Luckily, we were fine, but I was nervous.

Walking Distance

Because of our familiarity with the area, we knew that we could survive without a car.  And we did just fine!  We

Madeira Beach Vacation 2017

ended up taking Uber rides wherever we needed to go. All told, our Uber rides added up to about $125 plus tips, which was a significant saving over renting a car to drive while there.

Pool And The Ocean Added Up To Fun

We had warm, sunny weather for most of the trip, which was great.  However, a good portion of our trip was very windy.  This made being near the water very difficult with blowing sand.  But, having a pool right there definitely kept us exactly where we needed to be.  Having both options was great.

Renting A Condo Was Great

We had a really great condo that we found.  It was two bedrooms.  Each bedroom had a TV.  Having a TV in the kids room was great because they could have some down time after coming back tired from being at the water.  It was also fully furnished and had lots of supplies needed for the pool and water.

Supplies When Renting A Condo

The condo had just about everything we needed, but we ended up forgetting a few things on our shopping trip.  Paper plates, napkins, and salt and pepper were all things we would have liked but didn’t think of.  There was nothing we didn’t have but lots of things we would have loved to have had.  We made a list!

Eating In And Eating Out

We ate at a lot of different restaurants, but also made quite a few meals in.  This mix kept our costs down a bit, and made a good mix of ‘on the go’ versus enjoying the moments.  We ate all of our breakfasts in, and then would generally have lunch or dinner out.  It still wasn’t exactly cheap but it kept things in check.

We Loved Our Madeira Beach Vacation

If you can’t tell we loved our vacation.  All of us came back tan.  We all came back tired. Our son came back with a sore ear from all the swimming.  All told, those are all signs that we had lots and lots of fun.  And we did.  So much so that we already put a deposit on the same unit for next year! And did I mention that repeat visitors get a 10% discount?  Woo-hoo!

Readers, do you have any great family spring break stories?  Please let me know what you did in the comments below.  Thanks so much for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.