Let’s talk family vacations with small kids, shall we? Before I get into anything on my mind about this topic, please know I love my family with my whole heart. I’m always grateful for any and all trips we get to take, no matter how far away or how many days. Making memories, traveling to new places and just getting away from life is really an amazing experience. I truly feel that way.
Here’s a few other things I feel…
I start feeling tired days before we even leave. The thought of packing for the entire family makes my hair hurt. I want to sprawl out on the floor and kick my feet and scream at the thought of it. Not only is it physically demanding to fold and neatly pack clothes into bags all Tetris style, it’s also mentally draining.
There are daily undies, accident undies, extra, extra undies. There is planning outfits for days ahead, including shoes and accessories. Normally, I do well to flop out of the shower each morning and adequately cover myself enough to avoid inducing nightmares. Thinking that far in advance is painful. The moms who have it together enough to actually plan matching outfits and family picture outfits… can I have your autograph? You’re my inspiration. You make my toes tingle.
On our first family trip, the kids were so young they slept for most of the drive. It was blissful…and that never happened again. At first everyone is excited. Movies are actually captivating, the noise level hasn’t reached earplug level.
By the third pee stop, it gets scary. The van is an activity bag tornado aftermath, my legs have embarked on their continuous nervous shake cycle, nails have been nibbled to the cuticle. The following hours are like giving birth; painful, long, sweat inducing and quickly forgotten for sanity purposes.
The van finally pulls into the parking lot of our temporary home. Squeals and shrieks of excitement quickly begin from the backseat. We pile out and stampede into the building, empty juice boxes leaving a trail behind us. The room is quickly inspected and beds become a trampoline. I walk in looking like a pack mule, sweat pouring from my back and realize suitcase unstuffing must begin.
This is fun, right?
Suitcases are empty, the beds nice and fluffed from the jumping, pjs on, lights out…and we’re all wide awake. The questions begin. What happens when we wake up? What’s that in the corner? Can I sleep on your stomach? Where are we? It’s ok though, by this time I’m so tired it doesn’t matter that I’m going to bed at 8 pm with little heads bobbling on my stomach.
Just let a mama sleep.
The days ahead
Depending on our travel location, it’s always a challenge getting ready in a new place. There’s forgetting the shower door is made of glass incidents, hopefully they’ll forget that image. Sometimes there is applying sunscreen. Picture trying to apply a critical layer of lotion to flailing, scurrying, quick little crabs. A 30 minute buffer must exist prior to my own application to allow the sweat to dry. Mommy is loaded down with bags full of “might need”, finally has everyone ready and off we go.
Please see the travel section above. Repeat with tired kids who now have nowhere fun to anticipate and mommy considering a new drinking hobby while calculating the amount of laundry that awaits, a lone tear slowly forming in each eye.
Finally, throw in all the amazing fun, watching the kids experience new things and spending valuable quality time together…and you have a great family vacation. It’s all worth it and it’s all fun. It really is.