A wonderful part of traveling involves visiting museums, art galleries, and historical sites. My children know that any whining to the contrary will only lead to one of my preachy, long winded explanations about how these places offer a way of delving into the history of another culture, and a myriad of other benefits. This is usually met with glazed eyes rolling about their little sockets, and eventual, grudging compliance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not standing there with a whip and guide book expecting my kids to recite dates at the end of their visit, I’m just hoping for a positive attitude and an openness to experiencing something new. And while this happens more often because they are older, for many kids, places like museums are synonymous with slow motion walking through endless spaces looking at old artifacts that can’t be touched. Where’s the fun?
The solution? Change your expectations so your children won’t look at these visits with dread. I now allow my kids to set the pace and roam freely, hoping their self-directed tour will encourage a little more curiosity because it’s on their terms. They don’t have to look at every single thing in every single room. They don’t even have to read the information cards posted on the walls. If they want to walk around with us and are inspired to talk about what they see, they can. If they choose to go through at break-neck speed, ending up at the gift shop, that’s fine too. I know these visits will somehow inspire them and enrich their lives. Persevere I say, because despite the scowls and expressions of pain, there are breakthrough moments that put a smile on your face, and assure you that it’s all worthwhile.