Vacation is rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, lazing around and reading a good book. Vacation is far from that, when it is a family vacation. You can tuck all of those relaxing accoutrements away, for this one.
You will need to be armed with patience. A big reserve of it, to mentally calm yourself during the meltdowns, whining episodes, fighting, and general kid complaints that will replace your vacation pleasantries.
My parental complaints present in this blog, do not outweigh my love for vacation. Especially, a beach vacation. I am merely being honest. There is no way I would decline going on a vacation, but vacation with kids is work for parents, with moments of vacation-like time. Going on a family vacation is a right of passage.
It’s our time to make memories that become family tradition. We are the real-life Griswold family, and “where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together”.
I realize it is not Christmas. But, I agree with Clark Griswold. We’re all in this together; from vacationing to all the other parenting follies. We are the “jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse”.
It’s highly likely you will feel like you’re in a nuthouse, as you watch your kids act like assholes instead of being grateful for the vacation-time. You will be excited to introduce something you loved as a kid, to your kids and it will either be a win or a complete fail. As with most adventures in parenting, you have no idea what it will be, so you go for it.
For example, a paddle boat excursion turns into hell because it’s too hot of a day and your kid refuses to paddle. So you’re left a sweaty mess, paddling on your own, your whiney kid, in tow. How about a hike? This one, you can’t even get out of the house, because your kid is screaming and thrashing around like a wild animal, because she doesn’t want to wear socks with sneakers. Or, going to the arcade is fun, right? Well, it is until it’s time to count the number of tickets won, and one kid has way more than the other. This is when Fun-O-Rama becomes Cry-O-Rama.
Of course, through the tears and the fails, there are glimmers of vacation-like activity, fun, and laughter with everyone. These encapsulate the memories; tradition. As parents, we hope our children will carry these memories with them and want to pass the traditions on to their kids, someday. The sacrifice will be worth the parental exhaustion, for our kids to have these memories; like we have our memories of our family vacations when we were growing up.
Here are some lessons learned I’ll share with you:
Helping hands–having Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins with you is hugely helpful, so that all responsibilities don’t fall on you. It is also more fun, with greater opportunity for tiring out your kids.
Cooler–pack a cooler. Make sure that along with your kid snacks, juices, and treats you have alcohol for the adults.
On the fly–Don’t plan. Planning creates pressure to stick to the plan. Then, any diversion from that plan creates unnecessary stress. Let each day take its course. You’ll enjoy your time more, this way.
Routine–Bag it. Your normal home routine cannot be recreated on vacation. Your efforts to stick to it will be more stressful for you and your kids. Shift to spontaneity, it’ll improve your time.
Age-appropriate–Ask other parents, with kids around the same ages as yours, about their vacation successes and failures. This will help minimize a complete vacation failure, where your kids are the wrong age for the vacation chosen; such as going to an amusement park where your kid isn’t tall enough for any of the rides or where you have to wait in line holding a writhing 2-year old, for a 1/2 hour or more, because of a missed Fast Pass opportunity. Or, going to a bed-and-breakfast with a one year old where that kid is the only kid in the place and you are sharing a common area with adults over age 40, who just stare, whisper and judge.
House vs. Hotel–I vote house. My kids are loud, unpredictable, and need some space. I can have all their go-to food right there in the kitchen. If they need to rest I am not stuck in the room with them for the duration of their nap.It is nice to have a house, our own space. Maybe when they are a little older I will shift to like a hotel, better. But, I’m a cottage or house vacationer.
So, parents, still go on vacations. Be courageous. Pack up your entire house, get into that car and go. Power-through the hours it takes to get to your destination. Get more brave, and take your first airplane flight with them. Because, even though having kids will completely redefine your vacationing, it is worth it.
You will need to remind yourself it is worth it. Sometimes, frequently. Majority of the time, the reminders of how important the time together is, are nestled into the moments where you and your kids are enjoying your time. Pause for those moments, and smile at those memories you are making.