Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Vacationer Finds it Difficult To Relax

DEAR HARRIETTE: When I travel with my children and my husband, I find myself overpacking to ensure that I have everything I need for them and for myself. During our vacations, I find it difficult to relax and wind down. I’m always preoccupied with one thing or another. I’d like to take it easy for my next trip. How can I achieve this goal and break free from self-induced worrying all the time? -- Worrywart

DEAR WORRYWART: I believe in lists. Before your next trip, make a list of what you will do each day of your vacation. Be specific -- even as you know that things may vary. Based on your schedule, think about what each of you needs to be ready for the activities listed. This includes clothing, shoes, accessories and logistical details such as contact information and maps (even if they are through a GPS, as you may want to download them in advance in case you find yourself in a Wi-Fi-free zone). Then give each family member the list and have them pack for themselves -- except for very young children, of course.

When you are on your trip, tell yourself that you will be fully present and enjoy each moment. You can set forth your plan but remain flexible as you and your family decide how you will spend your time each day. You can be spontaneous and confident when you are prepared.

DEAR HARRIETTE: As a parent, do you understand why many children nowadays watch online personalities play video games? I’m OK with my kids playing video games by themselves on occasion, but I see no point in watching other people play them. Is this something I should I allow my 12- and 14-year-old boys to watch? Most of the gaming personalities use a lot of profane language. -- Not Watching Video Games

DEAR NOT WATCHING VIDEO GAMES: Before you make a decision, do some video watching yourself. Since your boys are already fans of these things, ask them to watch it with you. No matter how awkward this may be, you need to know exactly what they are seeing and how you feel about it. Watch their reactions, too. I don’t know enough about the dynamic you are mentioning with the observation of online personalities to have an opinion, but you can form your own by seeing the video games with your own two eyes.

Sadly, you cannot prevent your boys from hearing profanity these days. In most places, the moment they go outside their door they may hear people walking down the street cursing. It is far too common today. You can let them know how you feel about it.

You can also limit the amount of time your boys are allowed to use their electronic devices, which will help manage how exposed they are to any of these outside forces. Banning particular sites may be close to impossible.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)