The very first vacation my partner and I took with our daughter was a trip to the lake for a long weekend in the summer. My daughter was 14-months-old and walking (read: running) by then. That vacation quickly turned into what my friends and I dubbed as a 'workaction', a vacation that required more time and effort and energy than anything we would've been doing back at home. Guys, vacationing with kids isn't really a vacation. Well, at least it isn't for the parents. In fact, vacations with kids need to be followed by a few days without your children.
Dr. Margot Sunderland, a child psychotherapist, says that, "An enriched environment offers new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive, and sensory interaction," and that family vacations can be beneficial to a child's cognitive development. Since family vacations may have lasting impact on children and their happiness, they are often recommended by experts on child-rearing. However, just like so many other things we do for our children, those same vacations can put the parents' sanity at risk.
Last year, I took my daughter to Baltimore, MD while my husband stayed home with our toddler. It was a pre-new school year trip and I figured we'd make some memories and visit museums and galleries. As soon as we left the house I immediately regretted this decision. She cried for her dad as if I had kidnapped her and she would never see her real family ever again. Then she sulked her way through the entire day because she missed her brother and her dad and her bed. Although she finally worked through those feelings, she was constantly nagging me because she was "bored" and because she didn't want to do what I had planned. By the end of the trip I was so fed up with my ungrateful child, I swore I'd never take her anywhere ever again. Until the next time I plan a trip, of course. Because, you know, memories and cognitive development and whatever.
While vacations are great for everyone involved, and everyone needs a break in the ordinary, vacations with kids are usually exhausting. So parents, if you have a family trip planned and you're straight-up afraid, I see you. You're not alone, and I have a feeling the following reasons will make your vacation more work than play.
In our house, naps are sacred. Nothing, and I mean nothing, stands in the way of naps. If my kids don't nap they lose their minds and take mine with them. On vacations, however, naps become somewhat flexible and unscheduled and tantrums become frequent and uncontrollable. Since young kids cannot handle staying up all day without a decent nap, whenever we skip one the kids become slightly more unmanageable. That kind of puts a damper on the entire vacation.
I don't know a single person who enjoys packing for a vacation. Packing is literally the biggest hurdle you have to jump before you can enjoy some time off. Sure, your reward is a break from your daily life, but packing is still a pain. Packing for yourself is annoying as is, but when you add everything you have to bring for your kids packing becomes unbearable.
I've somewhat alleviated my hatred of packing by making lists and imploring my daughter help get most of her stuff together, but overall I am still responsible for packing for the whole family. If you're traveling local, it's not a huge deal if you forget something. But, if you're traveling to the Caribbean or some other far away resort, leaving a necessity at home can be a major incontinence.
What is it with kids and food, anyway? I'm so super jealous of moms who claim their kids are "foodies." I mean, how did you do that? I did everything "right." I introduced all the "right" foods at the "right" times. I didn't give sugar or empty calories. I didn't succumb to their relentless tantrums. I provided a wide variety of foods, including all fruits and vegetables. So why are my kids such terrible eaters? Why are they so picky?
Well, the answer is unknown to me, but I do know that when we are away from our surroundings, my kids are even worse when it comes to eating whatever is offered to them. And, from what I understand, most kids are a huge pain when they're asked to eat in an unfamiliar place.
Just when you think you have some control in managing dangers at home, you are presented with a slew of new, potentially harmful situations when you're on vacation. If you're near a body of water, you're constantly worried your kid will run off and drown. If you're in the woods, you're worried your kid will get eaten by a bear. If you're in a foreign country, you're worried your child will catch whatever illness that is rampant in that area of the world. Every anxiety is exacerbated on vacation in unfamiliar territories.
Overstimulation is a real thing, you guys. While vacations can be so much fun for the whole family, they could also be trying for the little ones. Usually, on vacation, families wake up early and get started on a day full of adventure and activities. By mid-day, though, everyone is exhausted from having "too much fun." Kids get cranky and parents get impatient.
Vacations often lack the daily conveniences you're used to enjoying at home. They also lack schedules and any sort of order, for the most part. Once your family gets into a groove of what works, it's difficult to adjust in a different situation.
If you and your partner want to get frisky on vacation, good luck. I know some people are totally comfortable having sex while their children are sleeping in the same room, but I am not one of those people. So, when we are on vacation with the kids, sex is almost never an option. And that kind of sucks, you guys, because vacation sex is great sex. Also, any privacy you do have at home, which likely isn't much already, is gone when you all share one room for an entire week.
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