I lost track of the amount of times people have expressed disbelief or pity when I told them I was taking a vacation with my kids. "That's not really a vacation," or, "why would you even try?" were commonly expressed sentiments. Unless you want to be a hobbit, or you have the best parents ever who love babysitting, if you want to vacation with your partner before your kids are 18 you'll have to take them with you. Damn the haters. You'll have to have plenty responses to someone asking why you travel with your kid at the ready, because you know it happens anytime you announce a family trip.
My partner and I love traveling, and have been doing it since our youngest was just a couple of months old. Someone very wise told us that if we wanted to travel as new parents, we should start early, and we reluctantly took their advice. It was the best thing we ever did. Our kid was not one of those "schedule" type babies, so that released us from having to be home at certain times for naps, or whatever, since he defied all sense of reason when it came to eating and sleeping.
Our baby was draining, never-sleeping, and always-crying. So my partner and I decided we would go crazy if we just stayed at home playing Hot Potato with him and being angry at one another in our misery. So we went places. We took weekend trips to houses of friends and family (who still love us somehow, despite our hysterically crying baby), trips to Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Jersey Shore. It was how we kept ourselves from going crazy and, I think, kept our own romantic relationship spark alive when it would have been easy to throw up our hands and give up.
So we learned to have some come-backs when people questioned our decision to travel with our kids. You can use them if you want. They're on me. You're welcome.
"The Best Time To Travel With Kids Is When They're Super Tiny"
The most traveling my partner and I did as parents was during our baby's first year of life. All infants do is lie around and sleep or cry, so I didn't see why he couldn't do that in an environment that was not centered around my couch. He seemed to enjoy movement best, so flights were actually fine and he would conk out in his carrier as soon as the plane lifted off the ground and stay asleep nearly the whole flight.
"My Soul Didn't Die The Minute I Became A Parent"
Just because I became a mom, doesn't mean I don't like enjoying life. Part of enjoying life, for me, includes going places and taking a break from the monotony of daily life. I am privileged in that I can afford to travel, and that I have a job that allows me to work from wherever I go.
But I know other people who have the same privilege who decided that they would stop all fun (including ever going out again with friends, or having date nights, or generally leaving the house with or without their babies) after they became parents. I didn't want to do that. Sure, it isn't the same as those pre-kid-backpacking-through-Mexico days with my partner, when we would arrive in towns and camp out on beaches until we figured out if there was a room we could stay in. But traveling is still fun, and good for the soul, even with a tiny human along for the ride.
"Kids Don't Actually Need The Entire Contents Of The House In Order To Travel"
When you first start out traveling with your baby, it's easy to make the rookie mistake of bringing every goddamn thing you own with you on the trip. You fear that without the changing pad that your baby loves back at home, they'll be miserable during every poop blowout. Guess what? Your baby will be just fine when you change them on your hotel floor, or the towel you were planning on having changed by housekeeping later.
Babies don't need much except clothes, diapers, bottles, and comfort objects. As my partner and I got better at traveling, we learned to cut out all the unnecessary things (three different types of snuggly blankets, two different carriers, light-up toys, bath toys) and travel light. It is possible. I swear.
"I'm Interested In What's Outside My Home"
The other day, while sitting in the park with friends, I could smell a wood-fire burning and it brought me back to the smell of street food vendors in Jamaica. My partner and I have brought our kids to Jamaica a few times since my second son was an infant. I flew on a tiny plane with him strapped to me and thought that maybe it wasn't the best idea as we dipped and swooped over some rather uninviting-looking cliffs. And its not like I got to lie down and read books by the pool or anything. But I loved being able to nurse in a warm place, with my toes in the sand and the breeze on my face. The full day it took to get there, and the three poop-filled outfit changes (my son's, not mine), were worth it. I was never going to experience the sights and sounds of Jamaica within the four walls of my own home.
"My Parents Didn't Sign Up To Become Babysitters When I Had Children"
Some people have asked me why my parent don't just watch my kids when we plan a vacation. One answer? They don't really want to. I mean, they're good for a night or two with my boys, but anything more and I think they would find themselves in an early grave. My kids are a lot. At times, I can barely handle them.
Plus, I like being with them on vacation.
"I'd Prefer To Not Wait Until They're In College To Resume Having Fun"
I could wait until my kids are grown and out of the house to enjoy some hard-won time exploring the world with my partner. But honestly, I feel like we are both in great health, we look great, we still have the spark of romance, so now is the time to be enjoying living and having fun. Why table it for a far-off, later date? As our kids get older, I'm sure there will be different obstacles thrown our way. Just because they'll be more grown up, doesn't mean that we'll be free of responsibility from them.
"Even If They're Too Small To Really 'Appreciate' A Trip, They'll Appreciate How Happy Their Parents Are"
I've heard people say they don't see the point in traveling with kids since their children will be too young to really "appreciate" the culture or the trip itself. But what about you, the parent? You're old enough to appreciate things and experience joy, right?
If I've learned one thing from becoming someone's mom, it is that when I am happy and fulfilled, my kids can feel it. So no, my 6-month-old baby couldn't tell the difference between Jamaica and Rockaway Beach in Queens. But he could hear my laughter, see my smiles, and feel my more relaxed vibes. I'm sure of it.
"New Sights, Smells, And Sounds Are Always A Good Thing"
It feels good when you stimulate your senses. I can imagine that to my kids, even if they don't fully understand how traveling affects them, they are taking things in that are affecting their brains and their chemistry in some pretty cool ways that I wish I could explain more scientifically (but I haven't been on vacation in a while, so my brain is a bit foggy).
"Almost Everything Can Be Solved With An iPad And I'm Not Mad About It"
Yes, there are some hardcore horrible travel moments when you're with kids. Cranky children on a plane, overtired children who don't like their new sleep situation, children who hate the food that's available at the restaurant or hotel, and children who think that whatever interesting thing you decided to do that day is super boring? Yeah, it's all a thing. That's why it helps to be prepared with your trust electronic device or whatever vice it is that tends to keep your kid occupied and that you fear is probably going to lead to the demise of humankind. No matter! If it helps you enjoy your vacation a little more, I say let them have it. Vacations are about loosening the rules a bit, and doing whatever it takes so that you can get the most out of it.
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