Ah, the family vacation. We didn’t take these much as kids as our family simply couldn’t afford it. Family vacations in my childhood primarily consisted of me being sent off with grandparents so our parents could get some time away.
DH and I didn’t take too many vacations when our first child was small, partially because of the restrictions I was on as we tried to have a second.
Now that both children are older, we thought it would be fun to try a quick three-day vacation. We all were excited, and I had high-hopes.
I’d done my research, having both searched the internet and talked to lots of other people as to where a good place would be to go with a toddler and pre-schooler in the winter. I wanted to be close enough to home we could come back if we needed to, but far enough away that we’d test out the over-night thing.
After selecting where we were going, then came all of the planning. Making sure we had snacks in the car and in the room. Enough drinks. Enough clothes to get us through. Toiletries. Entertainment for in the car. I felt like I was planning a military assault. Perhaps that should have been a clue.
And yes, the vacation was as horrible as some of you are imagining
They had all kinds of up-charges for different things to add to your room, but none of them including giving you a “toddler proof” room. You forget what it means for your toddler to have access to every cord, every cable, and every outlet in a typical hotel room. There are no toddler gates barring off stairs, no toddler locks on doors.
There is no safe place in the room where she can play for ten minutes while you catch your breath. And if you try to make a play area anyway, there were will be tissues scattered across the carpet and you’ll find yourself sprinting across to room to stop her just as she attempts to figure out how to unplug the lamp.
Vacation also meant being subjected to kids out of their comfort zone. Out of their comfort zone and over-tired, cranky and irritable. Everyone’s favorite kind of child!
The biggest issue to my having fun of any sort was my expectations. I went into the long weekend wanting a vacation. Time to relax, unwind, and recharge. This was anything but that.
They were kids at a water park. They needed constant supervision. I knew that going into it, but what I didn’t understand was how much work this was with none of the fun.
See, my oldest child is big enough to do a lot of stuff at a water park. I figured DH and I would switch-off going on the slides and rides with the oldest, and then spending time in the toddler zone with the little one.
What I didn’t anticipate was that my oldest child would want to do nothing but play in the baby area with her sister. No water slides, no fun rides. We literally spent hours in water up to our ankles. Our knees when the oldest finally got a little braver.
Yeah, fabulous way to spend our time at the water park.
Our issues were compounded by DD1 being an early riser. She’s up at 6am and ready to go. The park doesn’t open until 9am. This means her having to wait and me having to listen to her ask “if it’s time to go yet” for three hours. By the time we got the water park, I was ready to leave.
Let’s also remember that I’m an introvert. Being stuck in a huge crowd of people I don’t know, wearing only a swimsuit, is already not my idea of fun. I thought this was going to be tempered with the excitement of water slides. I was wrong.
But it did teach me some valuable lessons. One of them is that we’re just not ready for a family vacation yet. None of us.
I work full time and so does DH. If we’re going to do a vacation, it has to be a vacation for the whole family. Something we’re all going to enjoy.
I know DD1 had a blast. She will be talking about it for weeks.
I’m just glad to be home, book in hand, and iPad waiting.
How about you? Did you go on family vacations as a child? Did you like them? Do you go on family vacations now? How are they? Where did/do you go on vacation? A favorite place come to mind? Something you really loved?