Monday, August 20, 2012

Crazy Cabin Week (aka How to Enjoy a Week with Family)

Photo credit: Thomas Huston via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 License

What do you get when you pack four adults and five kids into a 3 bedroom 1 bath cabin for a week?   Lots of crazy fun, as I recently found out!

A few weeks ago, my husband, daughter, and I joined my mom, my sister, and her four kids for our annual "cabin week" in the mountains of central Utah (side note: huge kudos to my husband for being the only adult male to come along).  Although there are a lot of us staying in fairly close quarters, we manage to have a blast every year.  Here are a few tips that we use to make things run smoothly:

1.  Go with a spirit of flexibility and cooperation

This one seems like a no-brainer, but I had to remind myself a few times throughout the week that it was not the end of the world if our eating and sleeping schedules were different for a week!  Everyone gave a little in terms of when and how to do things, and it all worked out so much better than if we had rigidly stuck to our normal routines.  And it was so nice to have everyone cooperating on meals, cleanup, and keeping an eye out for the kids.

2.  Use white noise

With little ones that still need naps and a good night's sleep, we found white noise to be essential for masking many of the noises that are inevitable when staying with so many people.  I went low-tech and took along a small desktop fan for our room, while my sister used a white noise app on her iPhone.  Both worked amazingly well and we all went home well-rested at the end of the week.

3. Find a place for everything and stick to it

I can't believe how much STUFF we packed to use at the cabin (somehow I never learn my lesson and pack less, but having a child is a good excuse, isn't it?)  Space was at a premium, so at the beginning of the week we each claimed certain shelves and drawers, and everyone made sure to keep things corralled in their spaces throughout the week.  It's times like these that I love having neatniks in my family :-) 

4.  Have fun sharing some meals

We decided that each family would take their own breakfast and lunch supplies and that we'd do dinners together as a group, with each family being responsible for 2 dinners during the week (we went out for pizza on the 7th night).  The dinners that were the biggest hits were ones where everyone could customize the food to their liking-- a waffle bar with toppings like whipped cream, spiced apples, sliced peaches, butter, syrup, and cinnamon-sugar to choose from, hamburgers/veggie burgers with various fixins,  Hawaiian Haystacks, or Navajo Tacos, for example.

5.  Take lots of activities

My mom is awesome in general, and she is particularly awesome at keeping everyone engaged and entertained.  Since we were at the cabin during the Olympics, she came prepared with sports equipment and activities for each day--badmitton, slingshots, baseball, kickball, tennis--and had a very cute "medals ceremony" with real medals for the kids at the end of the week.  Not only that, she also packed a beautiful wood photography craft for my sister and I to complete and take home with us.  We had all taken lots of books, art supplies, and board/card games, and although they didn't get used much due to the kids' obsession with the swimming pool and the Olypics on TV, it was nice to know that we had plenty to do if needed!

What strategies do you use when traveling or staying with lots of people?

This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Walkingon Travels and Suitcases and Sippy Cups.  Please visit them to see many great tips for travelers!