When you have a baby or very small children, your summer vacation is drastically altered. It usually goes like this. Remember that sleep-deprived summer when my youngest was 5 mos. old when I considered bailing out of our family vacation at 4:30am? I stayed, but only because I couldn’t take out the car seats by myself.
Before that trip, I tried to warn other family members who’d be with us what to expect from a vacation with little ones. (Hint: you hit the ground running with Dora and diapers, not NPR and hot coffee.) Just the packing alone can kill you. And if your trip involves a long drive in the car, you should be aware of the 5 Stages of a Family Roadtrip.
Then when the kids get a little older, you may get lucky and have a trip that’s almost like a real vacation. And by that, I mean a kid only fell through the deck once, or slept in till 6:45 instead of being up at 5am. You learn to set the bar REAL low on vacations post-kids.
If you’re a freelance writer or any other self-employed type like me, you may find yourself having a working vacation. But that’s OK, because answering emails in a quiet room for a couple of hours is actually easier than the work involved in packing snacks, applying sunscreen, and shuttling a carload of kids and their crap to the beach and back.
And finally, one year you may have a vacation where everyone sleeps, gets along as well as can be expected, and you even get to try some fun new things as a family. And I don’t mean changing a diaper on a water taxi.
As with everything in life, the key to enjoying vacation as a parent is keeping your expectations in check (family trips are more like chili peppers than ice cream cones, in my experience) and learning to take joy in the simple things, like collecting rocks on the beach. After all, the point is to get away, spend time together, and reconnect, right? No one ever said anything about sleeping late.
P.S. In collecting the links for this post, I realized I’ve written about family vacations a LOT. Well, there’s a lot to say about them! You can expect more insightful tales when I’m back next week. Until then, enjoy the blasts from the past.