The Playpen Diaries: Travel with kids an imagination vacation

Lyndsay McCready
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For the past week I have been travelling with my two young children, two small dogs and one much older and larger child — my husband.

The playpen diaries

For the most part our vacation has been pretty good, minus the fact that we were stuck in Golden, B.C. due to a closed highway; everyone, including myself, has come down with a cold; and although we have escaped the -50 C weather back home, the forecast is calling for rain most of our time away.

All of these complications are quite minor when you look at the larger picture. However, it is clear now that vacations are not and will most likely never be what they used to be — a time of suntanning on a beach, relaxing with a cold bevvy, and enjoying peace, quiet and the liberty to do what I wanted, whenever I wanted.

My new reality is waking up early, spending most of the morning trying to keep everyone happy and finding one thing that everyone wants to do — indoors.

At the start of this holiday, my mindset was that a vacation was no longer a vacation.

Sure, I don’t have to go to work, but as any mom knows travelling with children, pets and husbands is not a vacation — it’s just another day.

With that said, as we progressed into day two,I loved watching my children take in all of the new sights.

My son’s eyes were as big as the moon as we drove into the mountains for the first time.

Every train we passed he would yell-out “choo-choo” and when we took him swimming in the big pool, although he was scared at first, once he got comfortable his smile could have out-shone the sun.

My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t stop talking from the moment we left to the moment we arrived at our final destination.

Her curious mind wanted to know what every tree, mountain peak, lake, animal and building was, how they came to be and if she could have one.

It is amazing what a child’s little mind not only picks up on, but retains.

As we were sitting down for dinner one night, my daughter began to tell a story about one of the animals we had seen.

She talked about how it looked, where it lived and who might have been its friends.

It was a shock to most of us sitting at the table that she was able to recite all of this knowledgeable information — that was, until she began to add her own tidbits of fact to the story.

The imagination of a child is a remarkable thing.

All of the sudden this creature hailed from a faraway land, ate clouds and strawberries for lunch and was friends with a dragon. As I sat and listened to my daughter finish her pretty incredible story, it reminded me of the stories, creatures and adventures my sister and I used to create on our family vacations.

I can remember driving past the Cypress Hills and thinking that the rolling hills were sleeping dinosaurs covered in grass, and when no one was looking they would awaken, move about and play with one another.

As we made our way through Banff National Park, we would carefully scan each mountain face looking for its actual face, hands and feet. And if we saw a cave we would take 100 guesses as to which of the many real and made-up animals called it home.

If we were visiting a lake, before we would jump in and cool off in its cold murky waters, we would pick out the colour of our mermaid fins and choose the perfect name for our underwater palace.

The beauty of a vacation through the eyes of a child is that it can be whatever they want it to be.

As an adult we forget this. We tend to look for resorts and accommodations that will cater to our physical needs before looking at the potential for adventure.

Although vacations, for the most part, will no longer be what they were during a brief period in my life, they will now revert back to what they were for the majority of my existence — a time to create my own fun with the help of my children, and a time to look for new adventures and let the ordinary become extraordinary.

After this past week I can now say they are sure to be a whole lot more fun.

You can follow Lyndsay McCready on Twitter at @Newsielou

Geographic location: Golden, Banff National Park

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