Vacation Lessons We’ve Learned the Hard Way

We are participating in a blogging “round robin” today, in which different bloggers write about the same topic, and then their readers can check out several different perspectives on the same topic. Please enjoy our take on “One Parenting Lesson We Learned the Hard Way” and then go check out the blogs of the other participants!

Before we had children, vacations were like … actual vacations. Of course the packing and the travel was often stressful, but then when you would arrive at your destination, you were able to relax and unwind, enjoying the freedom to abandon schedules and just … do whatever you want to. Back then, we would look at vacation photos of families with young children, smiling and snorkelling and meeting Disney Princesses, and we would look forward to someday sharing similar fun experiences with our own children. However, those pictures did not effectively prepare us for the harsh, exhausting reality. Here is just a short list of things we two fun moms (although the “fun” is sometimes debatable when we are on holidays with our families) have learned the hard way.

–   A day that you plan to spend “just relaxing” will actually be spent entertaining bored children.

–   It takes a long time for toddlers to be able to sleep in the same room as any other person, if they are not used to it. Specifically, until they are not toddlers any more. This means that you need to choose between arranging (and paying for) a room for JUST YOUR TODDLER, or having no one else in the family sleep all night.

–   If your kids have any particular behaviour or attitude problems (they do), those problems will not be left behind at home. In fact, they will be exemplified because of the lack of sleep. Which brings us to …

–   Kids do not sleep in when they stay up too late. Don’t plan for it — don’t even hope for it. Plan on them being up with the sun, even though they definitely stayed up too late because of the fun vacationy thing they were doing the night before.

–   Make sure you are close enough to a hospital so that you can get there when one of your kids needs to get stitches, or a cast.

–   However much more it cost you to get a separate room for yourself and your spouse so you don’t have to share a room with your children, you will absolutely think it was worth that cost. This is especially true in hindsight if you actually decided not to pay it after all. A separate room will add years to the life of your marriage; that is a pseudo-scientific fact.

–   You will either pack way too many clothes for your kids or not nearly enough, but too many is better. This rule also applies to diapers.

–   You will forget to bring something on the trip. Guaranteed. The best you can do is hope and pray that it’s something replaceable, like your flip flops, and not something irreplaceable, like your kid’s glasses.

–   You are definitely going to feel like you need a vacation after this vacation. What you will get instead is a feeling of great relief to be coming home to the place where you are once again somewhat in control of the environment. Although you will have piles and piles of laundry to do.

So, the one overall message that we have learned the hard way is this: vacations with your young children are not going to be at all relaxing for you, the parents, but they are worth investing in anyway. The lesson you don’t want your kids to learn the hard way is that life is too hard to try new things, so it’s better to just stay home. So we two moms will keep trying to be “fun,” even if we find ourselves sleeping on the floor of a tent and walking to the bathroom that’s a mile away, or watching Netflix in the dark on a tablet so we don’t wake up the kid in the bed next to us, or explaining to our children why the bed in the motel room is “coin-operated.” And then we’ll post the fun and exciting pictures on Facebook — hoping the exhaustion and stress doesn’t show up in our sunburned faces — for the enjoyment of those poor saps who don’t have kids yet and who are still excited to take family vacations with their future kids some day. Keep dreaming your beautiful dreams, future parents. That’s how babies get made.

Look at this amazing hike Jac went on last summer. You should definitely do it!

Look at this amazing hike Jac went on last summer while on vacation. You should definitely do it!

Now go check out the blogs of the other writers in this round robin! Shawna at Simple on Purpose, Louise at Talk Nerdy to Me, and Sarah at Sarah on Purpose. Even if you don’t necessarily want to read their posts, you should click on those links anyway, just to be nice. It’ll make us think this whole “round robin” idea worked.
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