I recently went on a ‘vacation’. I say vacation with sarcasm because when you have children and take them with you on said vacation, it ain’t no vacation. It isn’t a vacation when you take your husband with you either, but that is another post. Overall, I wonder if it is even worth taking a vacation until, well, the word means vacation again.
When we were in the planning stages for our first ‘family vacation’, I knew that we shouldn’t attempt a vacation that involved security lines and time zones. For those of you that do that; I bow to you. We are not so adventurous, so we decided to attempt a ‘vacation’ for five days and four nights on an island just off the coast of Massachusetts.
So here is a little journal about our first (and maybe last) vacation as a family.
We arrived on the island. The trip took four hours. Two hours of driving, one hour of waiting to board the ferry with the car, and a one hour ferry ride. At least we did not have to deal with security, but it still took me three days to pack and I only have one child: toys, pack-n-play, high chair, stroller, bath supplies, clothes, bottles, cleaning supplies and a 5-day food supply. Frankly, we needed a camel or some sort of pack mule.
(We later found a lama on the island. I guess someone previously had the same idea.) Yet, when my husband found out I forgot to pack the cream cheese, he was pissed. My response, I told him he could pack from now on. <Silence>
We got to the condo. Time to relax? Um, no. Time to baby-proof. Unscrew knobs from the cabinets, take suitcases and prop against the stove, install the outlet plugs and call the front desk to vacuum the dead bugs and food crumbs left behind from the last tenant.
The little man is up one hour early, after going to bed two hours late. After three hours of trying to get him to go back to sleep, we are now wide awake. Remember the days catching up on sleep when on vacation? In this new alternate world of vacation with kids, you actually lose sleep. It is a phenomenon.
I skyped my Mom at home and showed her the place we were staying at. She was horrified and told us to get the next ferry out.
Should have listened to her.
I.am.exhausted. My husband slept in this morning until 11am, which meant that I took care of a 10 month old for 5 hours by myself in a tiny 10×10 room. In fairness, DH was the last one to get sick from our family’s recent virus venture, but I finally banged on the door and told him I wanted to get the hell out of this crappy place and see a beach or something. You can sleep at home, damn it.
Vacations make me so nice don’t they?
No sleep again after another round of pack-n-play torment. I am sure the other guests thought the little man was being tortured around 7pm last night. I kept waiting for “the Knock” telling us to shut-up. Instead, I got a snake. A real one. It probably was the one to bring in the bugs on day one. The only consolation to my blurry eyes is that it is our last day. I know I said five days in the opening paragraph, but we called to see if we could get an early ferry home. It leaves at 5pm.
We are home. The island was nice, but off-season, so when we went to get a donut before we boarded the ferry, from the island’s touted “Killer Donuts”, there were no donuts. Though there was a killer yoga class taking place.
All in all, I figured if that if this is the way our vacations are going to go with one child (not counting my husband), then let’s do it at home where at least I have my own stuff around me, including a Starbucks. Although I found out, in retrospect, that a little diner sold brewed Starbucks coffee.
But like childbirth, I probably will forget these little things. Remember the good memories we had and thus do it all over again…
I am sadistic that way.
Oh my, what a catastrophe. Sounds like it would have been a bust of a trip even without the baby factor.
We have traveled a LOT with our kids, largely out of necessity (visiting far-away family). I have a few words of (sort-of) encouragement. Because it really does get better.
1. You are at a pretty tricky age for travel. I found 12-18, maybe 12-24 months to be the hardest, because the babies/toddlers are at one of their least flexible stages. Naps are paramount, sleep is iffy, routine is king. Plus, of course, they’re mobile. It’s hard. But it gets better as they get older and less rigid.
2. Among the reasons it gets easier as they get older – LESS GEAR. Yeah, maybe you’ll still need a pack & play, maybe a few sippy cups. But the “stuff” gets easier. Also? Buy when you get there whenever possible, especially disposable things like diapers and even sippy cups (all hail the Take & Toss at the grocery store).
3. You’ll get better at it. The more you do it, the more you’ll know what it takes to make your life easier. That goes for destinations, lodging, and most importantly, expectations. Your expectations will adjust to reality, you can plan ahead of time who gets to sleep in on which morning, or what your routine will be. You’ll think differently about what kinds of hotels you want, or whether to rent a house or something.
As my mom told me from our very first flight with our kids (at 4 months old), “once you have kids, they aren’t ‘vacations’ anymore. They’re ‘trips.'” So true.
Like I said, my kids have traveled (nearly always on an airplane) a pretty ridiculous amount in their three short years. We’ve had some great trips, we’ve had some awful ones. But like anything in parenting, the more you do it, the better you get at it.
Wise words my friend! Trip IS a better name for it and you’re right, practice makes perfect. Hmm…maybe not perfect, but at least bearable…..Oy!