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This is the article I wish I would have read before I went on my very first family vacation as our new family of 4. 😬 Everything I read was about the packing list and “must-haves for the beach” since we were visiting Florida. I had a 5-year-old and a 4-month-old at the time, and we loaded up in the car for a 7-hour trip for the first time with two car seats in the back. Well, 8.5 hours away with my crew.
I came home needing a vacation from the vacation I was just on. It was so much work for me and my husband. The baby will never remember it. Our oldest had a blast, but I came home thinking, “yeah, I could have done that a lot better.” Here are three things I will be doing to have a relaxing family vacation in the future that have nothing to do with packing.
I think it’s so important to be honest with yourself and your spouse on a family vacation. Will you have fun? Yes! Will you get rest? Probably not. Will it be relaxing and like a vacation without kids? NO! No, it will not be anything like that at all. And having the expectation that you are going on a relaxing vacation can really set you up for frustration.
Here is what I can almost guarantee: kids will be having meltdowns, because they are off their sleeping schedule. You will question at least once on the vacation: was this worth the hassle? And that’s ok! Those moments are going to be a very small part of the trip. Expect them. Get ready to dry the tears and hold them tight. Then move on with your adventure! While it may be hard at times, the tears are not the memories your kids will hold on to.
*notice my not-so-happy child in this photo. It was past his nap time and we were waiting to eat.
Stay on Your Routine
… as much as you can. I get it. It’s a vacation… YOLO! But if you want your kids not to be terrors, because their basic needs are being met (like food and sleep), do your best to stay on schedule. A 20-minute gas station stop to eat, run off some energy, and just get some air could make a huge difference.
I can’t share this photo and not tell you this: if you do go to the beach, I highly recommend getting a small pop-up tent as you see in this photo. It was magical! It kept the sun off him and gave him a clean sand-free place to take a nap. This tent combined with the noise of the ocean let him have a great nap (keeping him on his nap schedule) while my oldest was able to play.
Alone Time During the Family Vacation
Next vacation, I am going to make sure that each day my husband and I get a little time alone by trading off. This might mean that he is with the kids while I go get coffee alone or spend 30 minutes reading my book. Or I am with the kids while he goes and takes a walk. Of course, you might be thinking, “when is there time for that?” Using the beach example, I could go grab my coffee while the kids are having their naps. My husband could have some time alone and recharge while I get the kids ready to go outside and he meets us there when he’s done (we know that takes a good 30 minutes alone with 2 kids even if you are staying right on the beach!) This is not something that has to be hard- it just needs to be intentionally done so that both parents can get a break and recharge.
Family vacations are a lot of work but make for some of the best memories. It all starts by being mentally prepared, sticking to your routine, and being intentional about giving yourself and your partner a moment to recharge. While, yes, we do these things for our kids, there is no reason we can’t enjoy the vacation as well.
Make sure to check out this post on how to get your kids to smile for the camera so that you can capture your vacation well!