21 Jun 2018

Kids on Vacation Presents: Reconnecting With What Matters- A #GrandReconnect at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach

No Comments Family Time, Family Travel, Florida, Kids On Vacation, Lifestyle, Mama Loves, Raising Children, Tampa, Tampa Bay

All I have are 40 printed pictures and a headfull of memories with my family I won’t forget from a weekend that reminded me to put down the damn phone, get in the pool and just be their fun Mom for no one else but them.

“Mommy, look! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Teathered via invisible cord to a device that helps me live my life quicker, faster, smarter, better. But I have to question that last one. Better. What makes my life that much better when I’m seeing life through my screen instead of in real time? Isn’t that why we buy concert tickets, so we can see the artist in person? But what do we all do? Film the concert. Take the pictures. Capture the moment. For later. To share. But shouldn’t we LIVE the moment.

With our summer in full swing I’m tempted to use the screen. A lot more than maybe normal. It’s easier. Just easier to give it to them. So I can work. Do laundry. Keep them entertained while I do the 1 million other things I need to do. Let’s face it. Babysitters are expensive. A “screen-sitter” is not. But I’m not in this for the easy way out. I see the disconnect as I watch a Mom on her phone during the entire time my family sat down to dinner at a restaurant. It’s not my place to say anything. I’ve done it. But it’s a reminder to myself that I don’t want to do it and our weekend at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater WITHOUT any phones was the perfect way to know that putting down the phone, the screen, all together, is the perfect way to reconnect with what matters most.

Having just moved into a new house, I’m learning about how memories of the past will shape my conversations of tomorrow. As we sit around the dinner table in our new home, we talk about the old chapters of our life, places we visited, funny stories about being together. Having 6 people remember one moment from the past bring out many details that we each had forgotten. The memory is relived with smiles on our faces and laughter fills our house.

The entire weekend begins when you check into your hotel. The kids LOVE a good lobby and staying for a weekend at the beach makes a hotel stay THAT much better.

The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is perfectly situated on across from Pier 60 on Clearwater. Known for the sugar sand beaches and sunsets, it is my happy place. It’s the PERFECT staycation if you live in Tampa or are wanting that perfect beach vacation in Florida! You are steps away from the beach and can pool/ Gulf hop all day long! At night, the summer evening festivities on Pier 60 include an artisan market, live entertainment and a sunset show put on by Mother Nature that will rival any island sunset you’ve seen.

From your balcony view, the pool looks luxurious and inviting as to the waves in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s vacation at its best.

I LOVE the new Grand Reconnect program. I personally think it is genius and something that we all need. Even. A TRUE vacation with no interruptions, time to reconnect with yourself or your family and the ability to just take a break from the constant “work.” As a mother who has 4 kids in school, a full time job, children with a rare medical condition and what seems like a billion obligations, the chance to TRULY disconnect is hard. I worry that I will miss a call from the kids school, that I’ll not be able answer a “quick” email from a co-worker or that I might miss something on social media (i.e. that my co-worker from 8 years ago had their 4th wedding anniversary and they are headed to Mexico…yippee!!!)

So what’s the big deal if everyone you LOVE and are immediately responsible for are in one place for two days, three days or even a week? Can you disconnect? Put the “Gone Fishing” sign up and set the email reminder to “out of office?” Isn’t this why we take vacations? Everything I love and everyone who matters most to me was in my immediate grasp. What is preventing us all from disconnecting when ACTUALLY on vacation? And the kids- DEFINITELY disconnect them too. Seriously, you are the parent and they won’t loose all social status in a few days. Promise. These are the only people who matter and we were all together.

Fort building in progress.

So we checked in and received a few goodies. A crazy, ambitious, sheet Fort that was AWESOME! (Seriously- check it out here…) A lockbox and an INSTAX camera WITH FILM!

We strolled through the lobby soaking in our glorious new digs for the weekend. Our room was AWESOME! And our view even better! My kids immediately enlisted my husband (the one with the General Contractor license) to help build the Fort. Bunk beds were claimed and swimsuits got put on immediately.

It was time to lock the phone away. And honestly I was fine with it! Can I tell you something? I felt FREE. It was honestly a relief. While all my responsibilities were 100% taken care of I felt a sigh of relief that I could truly relax. I found myself in a place I hadn’t been in awhile. It was amazing to be free of the pressure to answer the phone when it rings, the constant ding of the text messages and notifications. We have so many distractions that it is hard to escape. But so needed. Turn off the noise and focus on what’s in front of you. Seriously. Good for the soul. Good for everyone.

And that’s what we did. For two days. Pool time. Beach time. Family time. Bedtime books and morning coffee in bed. Night walks on the Pier. Brunch with my family. Celebrating every moment we have together because … life.

If there is one thing I recommend doing this summer, it is reconnecting. Reconnect with yourself. Reconnect with nature. Reconnect with your kids. Reconnect with your husband. Reconnect. Disconnect yourself and just be you for a little bit. Be the best you. Emerse yourself in the moment while it is happening. Capture the memory in your mind and plan to remember it. Because it was just that- a moment to remember. And when I forget or want to relive the moment- I’ll have a few pictures to remind me of how wonderful it was and why I will continue to disconnect when I travel.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach for helping our family make memories with their Reconnected experience. It’s a much need nudge to REALLY put down the phone and connect with your kids and family. Memories that will last us a life time. I can’t wait to hear stories from all our trips over dinner conversations years from now.

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Marisa is a Mama to 4 kids and resides in Tampa, Florida with her family. Connect with her on Twitter @TampaMama to learn more about Tampa Bay and things to do with kids, Florida family travel, travel adventures and tips or her secret parenting tips for staying alive while wrangling 4 kids. She has a "official" business background in marketing + PR + events, but now plays daily with social media strategy, brand development and digital media. Days are long. Life is short.
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