Connecting as a family is best away from home

Child on shoulders

On the last day of school, I breathe a sigh of relief. Although I mostly enjoy the routine of school days, I find that by then I need a break from it as much as our daughters do.

Other than taking a break from routine, what I look forward to the most is re connecting as a family. Last summer we were fortunate to have taken a trip to England and France. We rented a quaint artist’s studio in the centre of London, stayed close to the Eiffel tower in Paris, and despite the overwhelming heat, enjoyed seeing the sights as a family. Eating crepes on the street in Paris, sitting by the Eiffel tower and watching it light up after the sun had set are some of our fondest memories. However, beyond the sights and special finds in Europe, we all agree that what we treasure most is the time we spent together.

Last year’s trip was more extravagant than usual. This year we’re thinking of staying closer to home.

I’ve come to realize that even when we take time off our work schedules and promise to spend family time in the city, something usually interrupts our time together. Even with the best of intentions, there’s usually something to divert our attention away from one another. That’s why we always escape to Fern Resort, near Orillia, Ontario – if only for a few nights, every summer. Although we love seeking out new adventures, there’s something comforting about the familiarity of returning to Fern Resort at the same time every year. Something about returning to activities that we know and love – bingo and fishing are the girls’ faves! So when they insist that if nothing else, we must go back year after year, we’re thrilled because we want to too.

We’re considered “alumni” now since we’ve been guests at Fern for five years – usually capping off the summer by spending a wonderful Labour Day weekend enjoying their incredible programs and activities.

Here then are some things to consider and what to look for when choosing a family friendly vacation this summer:

1. Considering the age of your children, how far do you want to venture from home? Especially when they’re young, and especially if you’d prefer to drive, you may want to consider finding a family friendly spot closer to home.

2. Unless you’re going camping or renting a cottage and creating your own fun, make sure that there are activities at the resort or hotel that you can all enjoy. We especially love watching the evening entertainment shows as a family at Fern. During the day, there are programs and activities that cater to our individual needs if we choose.

3. Some of the best times when away are meal times. At home, how often do you get to just sit together, be served and then have someone else clean up after you?

4. Check that the resort or hotel has high chairs or booster seats if you need. Since you want to encourage eating together, make sure that they don’t insist on separate dining times for adults and children.

5. Share a room if you can. Some places insist on no more than two people per room. This defeats the purpose of being together. I’d rather have the four of us share 2 queen or double sized beds than to be in separate rooms. We do that at home.

6. Find a spot that you can make a tradition out of going to every summer. If your children grow up going to the same spot every year, they will learn their way around the facility really well. Now that our kids are older and have been to Fern so many times, its comforting knowing that we can soak up some rays by the swimming pool while our children navigate their own way around the property.

While away, we often talk about the school year that has passed and the one to come. Again, free of distractions, the kids communicate more openly and the effects of this connection spill over into our lives for months after we return home.

Happy travelling!

To contact Fern resort, call 1-800-567-3376 or visit