How to enjoy vacationing with your cousins (7 Quick Takes Friday)

We’re coming off of a week-long vacation at the beach with our cousins, and I have invited my 11-year-old niece, “Eileen” of ratly fame, to join me in sharing some tips on how to vacation successfully with your cousins.

Please give a warm welcome to my co-guest blogger today!


All cousins should “sleep” in the same room, even if that means other bedrooms are empty for the week. This is still true–or perhaps especially true–if it means no one actually sleeps in that room, or if it means that the oldest cousins have to stay up until 11 p.m. to make sure they are not kept awake by restless younger cousins and their Kung Fu Panda 2 soundtrack.

You can never have enough buckets, shovels, outdoor showers, iPads, yogurt tubes, chocolate-frosted donuts, bacon, or room on the sofa. However, even if these items are available in large quantities, you should have regular disputes over who gets which end of the sofa, who holds the red bucket, which person had the first outdoor shower yesterday, and on and on and on.

All of these disagreements should be held regularly, loudly, with great passion, and preferably before 6 a.m.


Grown-ups are optional. Laundry is not.

Those adults you brought along may think they are necessary for a successful cousin vacation. We’ll let them think that. In reality they are needed for:

–          The laundry (“Mama, where is my bathing suit?”)

–          The funding of boardwalk trips

–          The mediation of disputes (please see #2)

–          The medication and treatment of injuries

–          Addition of noise in the form of yelling, “Why on earth are you wearing a gift bag over your head while you walk toward the stairs?”

–          Ability to order pizza, etc.

As it turns out, grown-ups aren’t even needed to open the front door.

Every cousin vacation should include a team project, perhaps even the launch of a business. This might look like a corporation in which sand ice cream cones are sold for $500 each, and where children run through the house and across the beach, shouting about making “merchandise” to the point at which the older cousins are ready to toss them in the ocean.

Then, it might transpire that an older cousin would introduce the concept of copyrights to the younger cousins, spurring on the business and the excitement surrounding it. That older cousin will live with regret for years to come.

The merchandise, however, will remain unsold and unconsumed. Not to mention the $500,000 fee for the secret recipe.


Scary as it might be, the younger cousins will want to do things you probably shouldn’t trust them with, like holding the kite. They may use only one hand and dance around the beach in a typical 4-year-old’s carefree manner.

My guest co-blogger trying to pretend she’s unconcerned

Slightly older cousins may freak out about this, but be too scared to take the kites themselves. The oldest cousins will grimace, look away, and then plead gently for turns holding the kites so they won’t disappear into the great beyond.

No matter how late people go to bed, everyone will be awake at 6 a.m. In the event that some cousins are not awake by 6 a.m., the younger set of cousins will take matters into their own hands. This will involve loud discussions and debates, bouncing on beds, flinging of stuffed animals, badgering of parents, and assorted other excitement that can only occur in the early-morning hours of a vacation.

If you think you’re having enough fun on vacation, go find more fun.

This might involve piracy…

Making sand art a daily activity…

Eating as much ice cream and as many popsicles as you can fit into a week…

And asking your parents why you have to wait a whole year for your next beach vacation with the cousins because it’s just so much fun.

Of course, as Eileen’s mother points out, it takes the grown-ups a year to recover and gear up for the next year.

But it’s all worth it.

Read more quick takes at Jen’s blog, Conversion Diary.

Catholic Review

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