June-July09 178Nintendo DS? Check.  Nintendo Wii? Check.  Portable DVD player? Check. Oh, don’t forget the iPods!  Every time we plan a trip with the kids there is an extra “entertainment” duffle bag with all the trappings of home.  After all, what on earth would we do during those long drives?  Talk to each other the whole time? 

I’ve noticed lately that every time we get in the car my six year old grabs his Nintendo DS. We used to take the Wii to grandma’s house in the summer before she obliged us by buying one of her own. Sure I know we should be bonding during the ride, but the peace and quiet does me good on the road. I can actually have fairly uninterrupted conversation with my husband….except when I grab my blackberry to tweet, check Facebook, or send an SMS message to post an ETA. 

Once we arrive at the hotel, we’ll set up the Wii for the early mornings and late nights that we are lounging around the hotel.  And the DS is a six year old American Express…he doesn’t leave home without it.  Instead of playing a game of “go fish” or laughing through the buzz on Sponge Bob Operation, I lay in bed, catch up on writing or reading while the kids play video games.  Gulp! It sounds much worse than it actually is…I think.

Next year I think that I’ve decided to take a tech free vacation with the kids. For spring break we’re going to Arizona where the only entertainment will be the Suns, the sun, and a nice swimming pool.  Any down time will be filled with talking and laughter that is not run on electricity.  I’ve spent a fortune on board games (because I loved them as a kid) to get my boys to play. Next March it’s non-negotiable…family game nights, reading, and storytelling will be on the agenda.  If I managed to make it a week on vacation with my parents without video games and portable entertainment systems so can my boys.  I’m not sure I can pull it off. I mean, it’s not just them. It’s me too.  This is going to be hard work. The odds are against me but I’m determined to win. 

Maybe we’ll go bowling or take a run together. Perhaps we can find one of those neat little go kart tracks to race each other. We can work out together in the mornings with yoga or do hula hoop. Hey! Wait! I can do all of those things on our Nintendo Wii.  I think I hear a compromise in the air.  I can shake the QT guilt and just play with the kids. It’s not the technology it’s me. Instead of taking “me” time to read or sneaking in a moonlit walk with my husband I’ll just play with the kids the entire vacation. We can have a Madden tournament and go deep-sea diving in an Endless Ocean. I can skip the Pilates class at the spa and do my yoga on the Wii fit board. Huh? What am I saying?

The truth is I like the technology afforded to my family and I won’t let well-meaning, ill-informed “experts” tell me that Nintendo is out to destroy my motherhood.  As with all things, I’ll continue to monitor use, join in when I can, and be sure I save a little time to say “I love you.”  Guilt be gone!!!!