How to Have a Not-Stupid Vacation (From a 4-Year-Old’s Point of View)

Rule 1: Don’t burn daylight.

As soon as you are awake, run into your parents’ room and scream in their faces until they peel themselves off the sheets. You should NEVER “take your time waking up,” despite what your parents say. The only way to enjoy the day is to start it as soon as possible.

Rule 2: Eat the right food.

Donuts, sweetened cereal, cookies, ice cream, fruit snacks: it’s all perfect for giving you the constant sugar high you need to power through a day on the beach or at the pool. If you must, eat some vegetables, but only to appease your parents and avoid a “time out,” which would break the cardinal rule of not burning daylight.

Rule 3: Plan accordingly.

Your folks hint around that they’re taking you to the place with the awesome French fries? Don’t overdo the snacking. Heading to the park? Bring all your toys – ALL OF THEM. Want to smash sandcastles? Go to the beach at 5 p.m. when all the kids who spent the whole day building masterpieces retreat to their homes for dinner. Then go Godzilla all over those grainy, poorly constructed towers. Suckers.

Rule 3: Get plenty of exercise and rest.

Go for a bike ride. First, start out riding your own big boy bike. Practice using the brakes every 10 feet or so just to make sure the bike hasn’t started malfunctioning mid-ride. To keep your parents on top of their game, loosen your helmet a little and tilt it to the side then whine loudly that your life is at stake. When you get tired of riding, simply dismount your bike and wait semi-patiently and with a slight attitude until one of your parents puts you on the back of their bike and escorts you around the island.

Rule 4: Live in the moment.

Constantly move. Your parents booked this vacation for the sole purpose of making their children happy. They say they want to relax, but if they did, they would be smart enough to leave you kids behind. So live it up! Every moment. Parents make you take quiet time? Not a problem. Build a totally sweet blanket fort and sneak in your dinosaurs. Your mother will love the extra laundry because she is always saying she likes things to be clean, anyway. And don’t even THINK about napping. The second you think about it, you’re going to doze off. If you hear your dad say, “nap,” initiate panic mode, grab a piece of candy and power up.

Rule 5: Thank your hosts.

Thank-yous come in many forms: a mud pie to the face or a small but effective tantrum will let your parents know that despite how much fun you have been having, you haven’t forgotten about them. Go ahead and give them a hug and drop a well-timed “I love you” – it might even get you an extra dessert.

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