Caiman Pacifying the Offspring (1)

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Caiman Pacifying the Offspring (1)

A man juggling a ballerina, a figure on a spring, and one on a bicycle

You know the feeling? Everything sorted out, soulmate found, genes mixed nicely and hatched, growing like hell... And now what? Keeping the offspring occupied isn't always as easy as the books tell you. (unless you read the other books of course, the ones which tell you it's an impossible task, then it will be easier).

I would like to share my ideas and experiences with you, on the what and how.

Do not underestimate the capabilities of kids. They can do a lot more than you think. Most parents find that out when there is a second or third that has to keep up with the older sibling(s) .

Each and every age group asks for a different approach. Even then, an only child or oldest behaves differently from those that follow. I have seen this very clearly during the mountaineering camps I did with my own family.

Just to clarify: mountaineering camps are sort of organised two-week events where around 10 families (preferably not already close friends beforehand) have a shared camping area somewhere in a mountainous location. What everyone does once there is up to them.

Usually groups go hiking from hut to hut for a few days, people go climbing, swimming, you name it. The two weeks start with an easy trail with the whole group. Friendships between kids made on that first trail usually define with whom you, as parents, will be doing most of your activities. Speed and range of your kids regularly play a bigger role there than age. They connect to whoever they can keep up with. Sometimes apparent no-brainer connections (that is, apparent for the adults) fail to happen here completely...

So what is in it for the parents?

More than you think…

It is easier to fit in grown-up mountaineering (like scaling a glacier, climbing a particularly difficult via ferrata) if you combine with others. Moms doing something cool in the morning, dads in the afternoon, kids go swimming and play games in the meantime.

Hiking with a group of kids saves a lot of complaining, as they keep each other occupied. It is always nice to see them walking and talking enthusiastically, as long as you refrain from listening too much to what is actually being said. Having the complete attic of a mountain hut for your group is a definite plus (nobody waking you three hours before dawn unless this was planned by you). And at least you know who to blame for the snoring....

If your own kids are spread wider over the age spectrum, it is easier to split between age-appropriate activities.

One of the rules is that every parent keeps an eye out for all the kids in the group and that the kids listen to instructions from all parents. This means that overall, you spend less time herding and get to read that book (finally), especially since older kids tend to occupy the younger for you, if the age gap isn’t too big and the Wi-Fi isn’t too far away…

So far, our offspring were always eager to ask for another camp next year.

Since we have boy/girl twins of 14 and one boy of 6, we will have to see how long the holidays together will continue harmoniously.

To be continued…

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