When my oldest daughter was six months old, I had the brilliant idea to plan a short vacation to Miami, which meant getting on plane, transportation to the hotel, baby gear setup, tons of diapers, sand everywhere, no naps. You get it and if you’re a parent, you know exactly where this story is going.
It was a disaster. I was an idiot and even brought a book with me, thinking, “oh, it will be lovely to read on the beach with a six-month-old.” That never happened. The whole trip was stressful, the car seat and bags and stroller were heavy. I don’t even remember the flight.
Expectations were totally out of whack
No one told me that taking a ‘vacation’ with your kids as a parent isn’t actually a vacation. It’s more like a work trip with small people whining and things going wrong that isn’t at your own home.
Duracell Optimum recently released a poll that confirmed my suspicions.
They found that parents get to rest an average of 17 minutes a day when on vacation with their kids. So if you’re away for a week, you get a whopping 119 minutes of rest all vacation!
And what about all the stuff you have to take with you? 79% said they have to pack the whole house. Most popular item? Snacks, to no one surprise.
This is how I made vacations worthwhile
Like most things in life, I’ve found that if I set my expectations pretty low, they can be met. Seriously.
So with vacations, if I plan that I won’t be getting much rest, that I won’t be reading that bestselling novel, that things will definitely go not as planned, I’m not as upset or disappointed when all that happens.
I also have learned to plan trips around what my kids and I really enjoy doing. So we’ve taken trips to the mountains for hiking and waterfall playing, to the beach for sandcastle building and swimming, and to age-appropriate theme parks. My kids are old enough now (ages 10 and 7) where I can talk to them about expectations and behavior and where they can bring enough books, crayons, and other things to entertain them during the trip.
When they were babies, taking trips didn’t happen as much. It was just too stressful and I didn’t want to deal with that. If that’s your season in life right now, that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to do things others are doing.
Lower expectations = less stress
Once I got my expectations in check, I could plan a lot easier and mentally prepare myself for a ‘vacation’ that wasn’t as stressful as going into something and being surprised. In the meantime, I’m building my family vacation bucket list for when my kids get older – think hiking the Grand Canyon, whitewater rafting the New River in West Virginia, parasailing, snorkeling, and hopefully a trip to Rome and the Vatican.
I’m saving money for these big adventures and taking shorter, more manageable trips as I’m able with my kids and making lasting memories in this moment.
But I’m still not resting – 17 minutes a day sounds pretty good actually right now.