For most of us it's probably safe to guess that quality family time ranks high on our lists, if not right at the top. Everyone feels he could use a bigger paycheck and of course good health is always a priority, but finding those activities that can bring a family closer together is more important than ever these days.
I have a neighbor who for years seemed to give me a hard time about my passion for boating. He's really not a bad guy, but he reminded me of the brother-in-law in the movie Field of Dreams that just didn't get it. The brother-in-law couldn't see the baseball players and because of this he didn't get along with Kevin Costner's character. When it came to boating, simply put, my neighbor just didn't get it. When he would see me he would try to convince me that boats aren't worth the hassle. He'd comment on our short boating seasons and any other negative thing he could think of just to try to convince me that boating was a waste of my time and resources. Oh yeah, he was quite the buzz kill to say the least.
At first I'd get sucked into his debates-you know those little witty jabs at each other where no one ever really wins. Finally it just got to the point where he thought he was being funny, but I'd avoid him just to spare the sarcasm. I guess I felt it was pointless to try to convince him otherwise and I no longer had the strength or energy to argue with the guy.
But this all changed this past summer as I was loading up for the weekend and I caught my neighbor approaching out of the corner of my eye. I just gave my wife that look of, "Here we go again," but this conversation was a lot different than our past talks. He just kind of looked at me and smiled. Then he said to my surprise, "I probably could have bought three boats for what our son has cost us."
My neighbor's son had fallen into the wrong crowd and distanced himself from his family by getting involved in drugs and alcohol. It had cost this family more than just money as they tried rehab as well as other programs to help their son overcome his addictions.
I've always known what boating can do to bring a family together, but I had never quite looked at it the same way my neighbor was seeing it. In his eyes he had made the connection that because we are boaters, we've stayed closer as a family.
Since that day my conversations with my neighbor have become a lot friendlier and even though he still hasn't taken me up on my offer to take him and his family out with us, I know it's just a matter of time. I'd like to get him out on our boat some day so he can truly see through his own eyes the enjoyment that boating has to offer. But even if that day never comes, I at least know those uncomfortable and awkward moments that we used to share are behind us and my faith in the boating lifestyle has been renewed because of this neighbor.
Now houseboating won't guarantee you won't have family problems, but it's hard to argue that time on the water won't improve family time for you and really, isn't that what it's all about?
Our time is valuable and it's easy to get caught up in the responsibilities of our careers, our community and other obligations that tend to rob time from our families. Often we look at houseboating as a way to keep our family happy, but this includes you as well. Here is just a small sample of how houseboating can bring your family together.
Unless your children are great swimmers, chances are good they're not going to get too far once you've anchored up in a cover. Unlike at malls or theme parks, your kids can't just run off. Now, depending on where you anchor they can still go off and explore and do their own thing, but it's nice to know they're still close by.
As important as it is to do activities that bring everyone together, it's also nice to recognize that most houseboats are still big enough that you can have that important one-on-one time with your spouse or child. I've taken advantage of this while everyone else was taking an afternoon nap to talk with my oldest child and spend some quality time with her. When you think about how busy our lives tend to be, it truly is priceless when we're able to connect with our children like this.
Mom tends to get stuck inside cooking on some boats, but it's her vacation too. But cooking meals doesn't have to be looked at like a job; it can lead to that quality time that we've been searching for. By taking turns with the menu and dividing up responsibilities, even younger children can appreciate the unique opportunity to prepare meals for the others. It's a quality time experience that for some reason feels different than when you're asked to do it at home.
If not abused, the "mandatory swim" rule can bring life to any outing. How it works is that at any given time, someone can call out for a mandatory swim where everyone on board needs to get in the water. You might have kids watching a movie on the couch, grandpa fishing off the back and your wife reading a book, but that all changes when the call comes in. Soon everyone is floating in the water and having fun and you don't even remember what you were doing before that seemed so important at the time. Plus, as an added bonus, no need to shower before dinner. You're now good to go thanks to the mandatory swim rule.
Grown Up Time
After the kids have been put to bed, grownups need a little time to themselves too and this usually means a gathering on the top deck. This is where family and friends can come together to appreciate the night's sky or possibly an evening breeze as adults socialize and relax. If that's not vacation time well spent, I'm not sure what is.
We could keep the list of ways to create and enjoy quality time going on forever, but it's actually up to you to add to it. Now is the time to create your own list of the activities that you can do on your houseboat to help provide the quality time that you're in search of. Houseboating is like no other activity in the world and it offers unique family rewards that you wouldn't even think possible until you experience it for yourself. If you're a houseboater, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not a houseboater yet, maybe it's time you learn. Isn't it about time that you discovered houseboating?