As much as we were excited about our trip, I was apprehensive about how my kids and I will manage without “help”. Although I tried my best to make them self-dependent at home, there was a lot that was done by our nanny.
We started off by implementing a routine the kids had to follow, for example, every morning each child had to make their bed, go to the bathroom to wash and brush their teeth, then change by themselves (I would have laid out the clothes while they were having breakfast). We weren’t expecting perfectly made beds, but they had to be neat; their pajama’s and underwear had to go in the laundry basket; their dirty dishes in the sink.
Behaviorally, we gave the kids a talk once we arrived in London and our expectations were clearly communicated to them (even to our 3 year old). To make sure they stick to the plan, my husband devised a “point system”; every morning the kids start with a 100 points (the full “grade”) and based on what they do during the day they get a plus or minus on their grade system.
For example, if my 5 year old helps his younger brother to get dressed in the morning he would get 10 extra points (110 points); if he doesn’t listen to instructions while we are heading to the park (goes too far from us), he gets a minus 5.
This point system determines what the kids can buy the next time we visited a theme park, or toy store. The toys weren’t all opened while we are in London, many of those toys would only be opened once we were in Kuwait.
Was it smooth sailing? Absolutely not, it was very bumpy the first 10 days, but once the kids got a hang of it, the minuses lessened and the time-outs faded away. The kids were helping me do the laundry and change the sheets, because they wanted to help, and they were being nice to each other. When we were out they would make sure everyone was close by, they even took their youngest brother to the bathroom when he needed it without my help.
The trip wasn’t a vacation for my husband and I, but it brought us so much closer as a family that it was well worth the physical and mental exhaustion. I saw my kids eat better, play nicer, and discover their own personalities. They were more open to experimenting with food (my eldest loved lobster!) and making new friends from different cultures. It was well worth it.