Vacation has historically been defined as relaxing by a calm body of water with a fruity, refreshing beverage, or taking in beautiful sights and ending the day with a delicious meal and reflecting on the memories you have made. Waking up was not on a schedule and the start of your day was spent peacefully sipping coffee and reading the newspaper cover to cover before starting on your next relaxing day.
When you add kids, it is now a “Family” vacation and things are much, much, MUCH, different. There is no relaxing by calm bodies of water as those calm bodies of water now are dangerous killing machines that can harm your child and you must remain vigilant at all times. Since kids don’t give a hoot about “beautiful sights”, if there isn’t an amusement park in the schedule, the vacation is going to be a bust. Delicious meal? Do they have chicken nuggets? Peacfully sipping coffee? Well, if you travel somewhere with a time change, your kids are going to be ALL OUT OF WHACK and you’ll be mainlining the stuff by 4am. Reading??? HAHAHAHAHA!
So, how does one prepare for a family vacation? I recently went to visit my brother and his family in Arizona, and we are back in one piece so now I am, obviously, an expert on all things travel. Let me give you some tips.
No matter how much you check and recheck that you packed everything you need, you will forget something that is essential, like underwear. So just be okay with that and make sure you have your credit card. I am sure they have stores where you are going.
You will also wear about 1/3 of what you packed. I included 4 pairs of shorts in my bag and wore none of them. I did wear the same vintage elephant t-shirt from target approximately 90% of the time. Rule of thumb: after you pack, dump it all out and only put half back in. Except with kids. They will wear everything you packed them within 3 hours of arrival, so make sure you are somewhere that has laundry available. Or just buy them new clothes.
Take away: just pack your credit card and be done with it.
2. Time Change Adjustment.
It sucks. By the time we arrived in Phoenix it wasn’t even 11am with the time change. My goal was to make it up to 9pm, which would be 12am on my body-clock time. I figured the kids would crash- but nope. They had a WAAAAAY easier time than the adults. They had a rush of “we haven’t seen our cousins in forever and we’re so excited and we just had 9 scoops of ice cream and SUUUUUUGGGGAAAARRRRR!” while the adults looked like zombies. I was hopeful that the tip I received that getting in a hot tub, which my brother has, helps to “readjust” your body’s circadian rhythm would work. It did not. Now I was wet, hot and tired. But staying up to 11:30pm DID help with everyone sleeping in the next day and then we did adjust within a day. On the way home- parents had it waaaaay easy b/c we looooove going to bed early. But the kids? Funny how they have no problem staying up way past their bedtime, but when it comes to getting in bed when their body is saying, “it is 5pm and I AM JUST GETTING STARTED!!!”- that is a whole different story.
Take away: As a parent, this kind of sleep pattern and walking around like a zombie is nothing new, so you’ll be fine.
3. Be flexible.
You may have all kinds of plans for things you want to do, places you want to see, etc. 1/3 of all these things will not happen. When the pool in your hotel is under construction and you don’t find this out until your kids, wearing their bathing suits and floaties, are running down the hotel hallway, be prepared with an alternate activity. Like going to the local casino that has an hourly day care center in it. BOOM. Problem solved.
Take away: day care centers in casinos are worth the money.
4. Embrace your anonymity.
Your kids are not going to change into little angels that listen to you all the time and do nothing to embarrass you or make you irate just because you are on vacation. Your advantage here is that mostly likely YOU WILL NEVER SEE THESE PEOPLE AGAIN. No need to go out of your way to apologize for your kid so they are welcomed back the next time and you don’t need to travel 3 towns over to go to the grocery store. I mean, when are you ever going to be back at that little jewelry store tucked away in the middle of “what is the name of this town again?” So when your kid, who is continuously picking up the very fragile jewelry that costs more than 1/2 your paycheck, throws a fit and refuses to wait outside for you and plops herself down right in the doorway, just shrug your shoulders at the woman trying to get inside. She can step over. And when you see your brother laughing hysterically and you look over to where he is pointing and you see your little one with her skirt pulled down, bent over mooning a table of picnickers, slapping her bum and singing, “booty butt! booty butt!”, just shrug and say, “whose kid is that?” and walk away. And when you are mid-flight and hit a bit of turbulence and they yell out, “oh, mommy! I think we’re going to crash!!”, pretend you’re asleep.
Take away: People are more relaxed about these things than you think.
While vacation may not be the relaxing trip it used to be, embrace it for what it is: a time to be together with family and friends. Memories you make with your kids are more meaningful than anything you can give them. So take a deep breath, and take that vacation.
And if you can, take my kids with you??
Have a great crazy day!