Since we’re on the subject of summer travel & vacation time, I thought I’d share an interesting lesson we learned on our last family trip. It was our first day at the resort. We had settled in to a cozy spot on the beach, under an umbrella. I looked out at the turquoise sea, watched my girls start digging in the sand, and I thought, “Oh, let me just take a quick glance at my e-mail.” In an almost embarrassingly loud voice my six-year-old screams, “Mommy!  This is not an e-mail-cation!”  She repeats herself, matter of factly. “This is not an e-mail-cation, this is not a phone-cation, this not a camp-cation, this is a family vacation.”

Got it. Loud and clear. No phones, no e-mails, not even an hour at the resort’s kids’ camp.

Vacation is supposed to be a time to shut off from the world and play with the kids. And we did. We also devised a list of family negotiated rules for future vacations. In addition to the fact that there must be a pool for the kids, good food for the adults and minimal crowds (even if it means going to the Caribbean during off season), we decided on the following:

• No (or limited) e-mails or phone calls on vacation: Who knew this would be as huge of a stress reliever as it is? Truth be told, if I ever need a quick fix, I excuse myself and go to the bathroom (shh!).

• Beach in the morning for the parents and the pool in the afternoon for the kids: Silly as it sounds, negotiating this up front made us much happier. We got the calm and relaxation of the Caribbean Sea for half the day. Then we spent the afternoon at the pool being social, negotiating crowds and going down slides and off diving boards. Fun. For the kids.

• Dress up “fancy” for dinner: It was much easier to get them out of the pool with the promise of our family dinner dates. The routine also provided nice down time in between day and night activities.

• Special vacation song: This was a happy accident but we brought a new CD on our trip. Now, every time we hear that CD we feel like we’re back on vacation.