May 12, 2012

Tutorial: Family Outing FAIL in 10 Easy Steps (complete with cell phone pics!)

Tired of all those family outings that "go really well" and often result in everyone having "an amazing time"? Then this is for you.  

Step 1: Decide on a Saturday afternoon at 3 PM that you should definitely go on a family bike ride through some tulip fields, because after all, you live in Holland now, and there's bound to be some tulip fields around somewhere. Right?

Step 2: Spend 3 minutes consulting Mr. Google, read some random blog with vague details about a super fantastic bike ride someone went on once. It's just that easy to spend as little time possible preparing!

Step 3: Take a "30 minute" trip to a nearby charming city, lugging 3 kids and 2 bikes on the metro, and then a train. Make sure it takes 3 times as long though. It's crucial that you don't forget that part.

Step 4: It's helpful when you arrive in said charming city, if there is a big street festival going on that you didn't know about, and there are thousands of people wandering the streets, and most of those streets are blocked off. Did I say helpful? Sorry, I meant super helpful.

Step 4.5: Try your absolute best to get separated in the crowds and winding, medieval streets. I cannot stress enough how essential this is. Because trying to navigate through masses of people on a bike while talking on a cell phone in a place you don't know in order to find your spouse who doesn't know where they are or how to get you there is a total blast. It's just like playing Where's Waldo in real life, except with less stripes and more marital discord. Are we having fun yet?!

Step 5: Remember the charming city part in Step 3? Well, when you finally find each other, get through the crowds and find yourself on the outskirts of this adorable place, do not allow your children to be happy about the quaint and picturesque surroundings. Make sure they are whining, and cold. Check to see if you brought extra warm clothes for them. No? Good thinking.  That will increase their unhappiness by at least 6 fold, which is really the minimum level for an adventure like this.

Step 6: Get a little lost. Go ahead, turn down that random road. Poorly placed signs really go a long way to facilitate this. Also, not having a map. Really, when it comes down to it, no maps and no signs are the key factors in getting lost. Remember that. And if you forget, you can always ask someone in a Tourist Information Center for directions, because they are sure to be no help whatsoever. In fact, it's part of their job description.

Step 7: Hungry? Well, you will be if you ate all the snacks on the train, and you've been biking for over  an hour. Good job.

Step 8: Decide to turn around before you reach any actual tulip fields, because it's been 3 hours since you left the house and it's going to get dark soon and no one has had dinner and everyone is freezing. If you actually reach your destination, you have failed. *Hot tip: beg your kids to ask you "when are we going home?" every 2 minutes.

Step 9: Take a picture by some one's yard so you can post it on your blog with the caption, Beautiful ride through some tulip fields. We're in Holland after all!  

Step 10: Repeat Step 2, only in reverse, and try to make a scene this time. Go for something like spilling hot chocolate while hefting your bikes on the train. That's always a good one-- bonus if someone gets 1st degree burns on their hand.

Optional step: When you arrive home, go to your favorite closest Japanese noodle bar, and congratulate yourself on another successful family adventure. If that sounds too idyllic, I have two words for you: chopstick swords.

Don't be discouraged by the deceptive simplicity of it all. Seriously, with a little incompetence and unpreparedness, anyone can do it. Just go for it. It's not that hard to have the most. mediocre. day. ever!


Gabriela Hull said...

Donna, I love your blog. This is the best tutorial I've seen.

Saskia said...

Ah, the rite of passage-forcing kids on bike rides. I love both the picture of your daughter on the back of the bike and the tulip 'field' one.

SUZY "LA JEFA" said...

Sounds like a most appropriate activity for Mother's day weekend. You captured so much of the mother experience in just an afternoon. Almost as good as having your son angry with you all morning (on Mother's Day) because you will not tell him who Yoda was referring to when he said "No, there is another" in Empire Strikes Back.

claireb said...

haha. Your posts make me want to hurry up and have a family of my own!

Dad said...

This just proves that a typical Stovall experience can happen anywhere in the world!

Neva said...

Oh Donna ... Being a parent is awesome, isn't it?

Lisa Garcia said...

Hi Donna! Remember me from your Seattle days? I have come across your blog several times over the years and I need to finally tell you how much I love it! You are a hilarious writer. I have just caught up on your last few posts and have been laughing out loud. Keep them coming! :)

DizzyMamma said...

Aha! So that's where I have been going wrong! I have been planning, being organised and have even been known to use maps, and yet my children are permanently disgruntled about the fact that I have taken them out of the house to do something "fun" - maybe I should try an outing with no planning whatsoever and see how they like it.

I really enjoy reading your posts. I am a Brit living in Canada, so understand the upheaval, but also my husband lived and worked in Holland for almost 2 years so I have a basic knowledge of the dutch "quirks".