How old was I when vacations became relaxing again?
I asked my parents that very question on the second day of our vacation. The truth is, I was exhausted and longing for my routine. The kids had pushed my husband and me to the brink of our sanity. We almost started to turn on each other. Almost.
Luckily my parents were there and helped us a lot. Otherwise I don’t think we would be planning a trip again in the foreseeable future.
So, how old do the kids have to be when it’s relaxing again? How old will they be when we can look forward to a family trip and actually enjoy it when the time comes?
And why do we put ourselves through the trouble of a vacation with toddlers?
The trip from our point of view-
1. Plan a fun trip for the family.
-Pay a bunch of money with plans to spend a lot more once you get there.
-A few days ahead of time, start talking to the kids about the upcoming trip to inspire intrigue.
–Plan what you need to take and what you can do without. Make list upon list on what you have and what you’ll get when you arrive.
-Pack everything you own into your SUV and head out for a fun family adventure.
2. Time to Relax!
-Slather sunscreen all over everybody, and don’t forget yourself!!
-Carry water/sand toys, a cooler, a backpack or two, and a child to the lake.
-Now that you’re exhausted, its time to “suit up” each kid and take them in the lake. If the heat doesn’t drain you, playing in the water will. I promise.
-Be sure to follow each kid around with a bottle of water to help avoid dehydration.
3. Time to Sleep.
-Nap time. We lucked out. Two out of three days, the kids napped beautifully. Nap time is when we actually got to relax.
The first night away I didn’t put too much stock in the kids’ craziness. It was the first night after all and we were in a strange place. My daughter wanted to sleep with me and the little guy was close by in his pack and play. They fell asleep two and a half hours past their bedtime. Once they were both asleep, my husband and I went to sleep too. We didn’t want to risk waking the kids up by moving near them.
The second and third nights were as bad as the first, with a similar ending. They both fell asleep way past bedtime and we weren’t about to make any noise near them. Besides that, we were both too exhausted to stay up anyway.
-Snacks at the lake. We always go to the grocery store as soon as we arrive. For some reason, we didn’t this time. My parents had a bunch of veggies and PB&J’s, but with the energy the kids were burning through, they needed more food more often. Next time, we’ll go to the store and load up as if we’re staying a week.
-Main meals. We ate out the whole time. Eating out is fun at first, but then you quickly realize how unhealthy it is. Next time we’re going to cook more meals in our room and we’ll have more snacks!!
5. Pack up and go home.
-Pack everything up being careful to keep the clean and dirty clothes separate.
-Load up the car.
-Close your eyes for a moment and imagine how nice it would be if you could blink and be home. You’re so wiped out from your “vacation” you can’t fathom a five hour drive (with stops along the way).
So. Why do we do it? Why go through all that trouble just to end up feeling like we got hit by a bus?
In short, the memories.
My girl has fond memories from last year’s vacation playing in the sand. This year both kids swam the entire time. They each had a floating device of some sort so they were pretty free to test out the water themselves (with someone close by). They haven’t had such freedom around water before.
My youngest was amazed! He chattered away to my mom as he practiced treading water for the first time. He swallowed a bit too much of the lake for his liking, but he learned a lesson or two. By the last day, he was staying quite a bit closer to the shore.
My girl spent a little bit of time in the sand, but the water was much more exciting. The gigantic sting ray float daddy got may have lured her into the cold water as well.Even though we kept asking ourselves, “why are we putting ourselves through this?” my husband and I agreed, it was all worth it because the kids will have some great memories. We do too. It was an exhausting trip but it has some fantastic highlights. I’m already wishing I was back in the lake swimming with the kids. It took me less than 24 hours to forget how done with vacation I was.
So, when will we be able to relax on our vacation again? It doesn’t really matter, does it? Family vacations are about the kids learning and experiencing fun new things. And if we do it right, we’ll figure out how to enjoy it all right along with them!
Are you able to relax on vacation with the kiddos? What age were they when you were able to really start enjoying the time away?
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