By Lisi Lopez
If you are a parent, chances are you can add ‘tour guide’ to the long list of hats that you wear. Think about it… You get dressed for the day and pack the kids into your over-sized mom car. Once everyone is buckled up, you head out. On the way, you try to give them lots of information about what their day will be like. You’ll probably get some enthusiastic shouts and some muffled grunts. Reaching your first destination, you will probably be feeling pumped up and with a lot of energy. This will gradually fade as the day wears on, and your tourists become harder to manage, but try not to think about that or you may get the urge to quit before the day begins.
It’s important to note in the beginning that there are three types of tourists you will most likely encounter: The Know-It-All, the Smooth Talker, and the Troublemaker. Once you can pinpoint who each one is, it will be easier work with or around them. The Know-It-All will try to chime in after each comment you make, trying to convince everyone that they can direct the tour themselves if you let them. For this type, it’s better to just ignore them and keep moving along.
The Smooth Talker will try to talk their way into getting what they want or making the group do something that was not on the agenda and probably irrelevant to the tour. For this type, it’s better to just ignore them and keep moving along.
Finally, is The Troublemaker, who will try to do things they shouldn’t do when they think you are not looking. It’s probably not a good idea to ignore this one. They are also pretty easy to spot. Sometimes they camouflage as the Group Clown, but it’s just a synonym for ‘troublemaker.’ They don’t pay much attention and you can try to give them the stare to get them to simmer down, but chances are it won’t be very effective. Your best bet with the Troublemaker is to be five steps ahead of them at all times. Good luck.
At each place of the tour, you’ll try to shuffle the group out, making sure that everyone stays together and that there are no stragglers. You then muster your loudest voice so that everybody will be able to hear. While you begin telling your group some info and tidbits about their first stop the Know-It-All will definitely be chiming in. You may realize that there are one or two individuals who struggle to communicate or understand, which will require you to become a translator for them as well since only you can understand their language. Once you’ve set them up, the next thing you need to be prepared for is the endless barrage of questions that will begin to come your way. It’ll make you realize that there ARE such things as ridiculous questions, but you’ll need to keep that to yourself. Usually, you try to answer them as best as you can, but sometimes they can make your job quite uncomfortable. Especially when you get the most common question, “How was I made?”
If you can survive that awkwardness, you will also need to be prepared to make sure your group is comfortable, otherwise you may find yourself with some “hangry” individuals or tired travelers. Getting them to follow along when you reach this point is close to impossible, so it’s a good idea to make sure your bag is full of bribing teats, I mean healthy snacks, and that you set aside time for resting, even if it means a little screen time. Many days you will also have to deal with the fact that some tourists smell really bad. The good thing is at least you are prepared for the fact that they will most likely get more stinky as the day progresses. Thankfully, their cuteness usually makes up for it.
Being a tour guide isn’t always as glamorous as other tour guides make it seem. As you go from one destination to another, you’ll probably find yourself becoming a sweaty and hot mess. So, don’t forget to take a little breather from time to time. Maybe you can have a sip of wine when the tourists are eating their dinner. This is usually not frowned upon. In fact, it’s encouraged by other guides. Some tour days you may even find yourself distracted or lost. Don’t feel bad asking another fellow guide for help or directions. Chances are, they have been in the same position you are in. If you are lucky enough to have a co-guide, lean on them. Let them take the lead at times, just be prepared to split the tips later.
The nicest part about being a tour guide for your kids comes at the end of each tour. Even if you feel that you haven’t done the best job, you get the sweetest tips in kisses, hugs, and smiles. Don’t forget that you have the privilege of taking those smelly, but cute tourists home with you in order to do it all over again the next day. Just like a tour guide who can’t control the weather, some days we may also find ourselves traveling with stormy skies above us. The most important thing to remember is that, as parents, we aren’t actually tour guides. Parenting isn’t only about taking the kids from one destination to the next, guiding them, and teaching them what we know. Some days, it’s just about realizing that loving them and being there for them is enough.
About the Author
Lisi Lopez is a Latin mom to three kids under seven years old and wife to her college sweetheart. She graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering in 2013. Four year later, she got promoted to stay-at-home mom by her second child, who happens to have Down Syndrome. A few months after he was born, she started an advocate Instagram account for him, and also has a blog: https://ourextraluckyworld.wixsite.com/blog . Her days involve figuring out this journey of motherhood and enjoying all of it’s fun surprises, even on the crazy days.