For Family Day this year, my husband and I decided that it was time for us to do a family mini-vacation. Last year at around the same time, we sent our two younger kids to Grandma’s house and took our big kids on “Big Kid Vacation,” which gave us a chance to really focus on having fun with our older children, away from the constant work and distraction that babies and toddlers provide. This year, we thought it was important to show the family that we can have fun as a family, even with the little ones along. Besides, they are a lot less “little” than they used to be, and we figured they were probably old enough to have fun, and not ruin everything the way babies ruin everything. So off we went, to spend a night with all six of us in one hotel room. Here’s what we learned.
1. Built-in entertainment makes vacationing more fun. No one gave me a discount to stay in their hotel/resort in exchange for the free advertising I could give them through this blog post (though, in fairness, I didn’t ask), so I don’t want to tell you where I stayed. Let’s just say we went to a place just outside of the Greater Vancouver area that is famous for it’s hot springs and has only one resort/hotel available if you want to swim in the pool-like versions of those hot springs. There are a bunch of different pools, some outside and some inside, some warmer than others, and it was great to have an easy form of entertainment so readily available without having to drive anywhere. It meant for a lot of wet bathing suits hanging up in the bathroom, but my kids all learned the life lesson that putting on a bathing suit that is still wet is a terrible feeling. And that’s important. Generally, however, the hotel choice was awesome, and I felt pretty proud of us for deciding to go for it, even though it was more expensive than we’d hoped. It also had a beautiful view, and a walking path by the lake right outside.
2. We can finally, maybe, go to real restaurants again. Before we had kids, my husband and I enjoyed going out to eat, and then when we had two kids, we would often take them to family restaurants when we couldn’t face the fact that we needed to cook another meal. However, we reached our Maximum Public Chaos Acceptability Level with child number three, and haven’t gone out to eat at all as a family since well before our fourth baby was born, except to McDonald’s of course. That means that when we went out to eat on our first evening of our family vacation, our youngest kids were really confused about what was going on. They behaved themselves pretty well because they were receiving the full attention of a parent at all times, but they definitely kept asking about food, and telling us over and over what they wanted. It was toddler speak for, “I thought we were getting pizza. Why are we just sitting here? Where’s the pizza?” Despite their confusion, I was pretty proud of all my kids for how they handled themselves in that delicious pizza place.
3. Hotels are easier when the kids are bigger. The last time we stayed in a hotel with our entire family was the summer of 2014 when we went on a road trip to visit my husband’s parents in New Mexico. That time, we had to get two hotel rooms, we brought my husband’s sister along to help us, and the bedtime system went something like this: whole family gathers in Room A while Mommy gets the baby to fall asleep in a strange hotel crib in Room B. This takes a while. Mommy then joins everyone in Room A and helps with getting the other children ready for bed, while constantly shushing everyone so they don’t wake the baby. When it’s quite a bit after everyone’s usual bedtime, one adult tiptoes the big kids into Room B for a whispered bedtime routine that doesn’t wake the baby and requires frequent threats and bribes to enforce silence. Baby may or may not wake up. Finally, all three adults retire to the hallway of the hotel with their books and their bad attitudes because the toddler will not settle down if there is anyone in the room with her.
This time, we only had one room (because the unnamed hot springs resort is expensive! Also, all booked up on Family day). The first night we were there, all the kids got ready for bed at the same time, and then watched a movie from their beds (two in one bed, one on a cot, one on a mattress on the floor, in case you’re curious) that we started at the time the youngest usually goes to bed. When the movie was over, the lights went off and Mommy sang a bunch of lullabies until everyone was quiet. All four kids were asleep by 9:45pm, and their parents could enjoy the free wifi (Netflix with headphones) without having to hang out in the hallway at all. I don’t know if I have ever been more relieved, or more proud of my lullaby-singing self, than I was at 9:46pm that night.
4. We are almost there. Where, you ask? Well, when we decided to have four kids close together, this stage, this one that we have almost but not quite entered, was the part I was most excited about. Having a big, young family who loves to spend time together, participating in the same activities, enjoying the same movies, needing mommy to love them and play with them but not to put them to sleep — the next few years are going to be great. This Family Day weekend was full of moments where I just felt so grateful to have made it through the baby years and to be able to play games with my kids, swimming in the Hot Springs, walking along the lake, wandering through the gift shop. This stage has moments that are even better than I imagined. I am so proud of us for making it.
5. We will never be “there.” That was my final, definitive lesson. There is no “made it” when it comes to parenting, is there? Maybe when your kids are adults you can relax and feel done, but I’m a long way from that stage, and I kind of doubt it actually exists. You see, the second night we were there was not as easy as the first. In fact, it was kind of a disaster. Three of my four children started to throw up, and two of them were not capable of aiming their puke toward any kind of vomit-catching receptacle. And they were puking every 20 minutes, on an alternating schedule. We went through a lot of spare hotel sheets and towels that night, and no one slept very well. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m pretty sure it was worse than you’re imagining right now.
So while I was feeling very grateful for my family, and excited about the adventures we have ahead of us, I was quickly humbled by trying to sleep in a hotel room that smelled of vomit and calling the front desk for new sheets and extra towels more often than I’d like to remember.
Parenting. It’s a roller coaster, isn’t it? Which reminds me: maybe our next holiday should include roller coasters. Actually, no. Don’t you dare put my kids on a roller coaster unless you are willing to clean up the consequences.
Don’t forget to check out these other Canadian bloggers and their FiveOnFriday posts:
- If you’re interested in making life simpler, and also honesty from a nerdy mom of three, check out Shawna from Simple on Purpose.
- Check out the blog that is basically all things in life at Eclectic Soapbox, because variety keeps it eclectic.
- For tips on green living on a sensible budget with a smattering of parenting, ranting and raving, check out Judith at Juicy Green Mom!
- Diane Welburn at Canadian Basics.
- Paula at Product Junkie.
- Local to Edmonton, this mom is blogging about a little bit of everything. Things to do with the family, a simple DIY, or life as a family of 5. Check out Christine at Just Another Edmonton Mommy.
- Louise, of Surrey, B.C., shares about the reality of family life with some very energetic kids at Talk Nerdy To Me