Vacationing with kids: top five reflections

So, if you’ve been visiting the blog recently and noticing a blatant lack of new material, I offer you this explanation: we’ve had family in town and were getting ready to go on vacation. We traveled the east coast and are now on vacation.

I have much I want to blog about but who can blog when it’s sunny and 80 degrees and the ocean is literally outside our window? I’ll be back on track soon with some book reviews and other thoughts on life.

For now, though, I offer you my top five reflections from our first vacation as a family.

1. I’ve become my mother. I take pictures out the front window of the car as we drive, and I have vivid memories of my mother’s while-in-motion photography skills. It may not always be pretty, but it gets the job done. Am I right?

We’re crossing the Chesapeake Bay on the bridge-tunnel here.

2. I no longer care about skinny women in bikinis. We’re vacationing in Florida, where I spent several vacations as a teenager. Beach + teenager insecure about her body (okay, maybe that should just read “woman”) = deep hatred of swimsuits. Fast forward 20 years and I have two very good reasons (not to mention the stretch marks) for why I don’t look good in a bathing suit.

You know. These two reasons.

3. Vacation is not about what I want. I’ve never been a big fan of beach vacations because I burn easily and don’t like being overheated. And I’d rather sit by the pool under a beach umbrella and read a book than swim. That’s all changed with the kids. We’ve been here two full days and I’ve spent the better part of both days either in the pool or on the beach. And my skin shows it a little. Confession: I’ve never had more fun in the pool or on the beach. How do you say “no” to a 4-year-old who grabs your hand and begs you to jump into the deep end with her? Again. And again. And again. Her enthusiasm is contagious. And how do you convince the 2-year-old that the ocean is fun if you don’t get out there and get your feet wet, too?

4. In addition to bearing much of the sunburn, my shoulders (and my husband’s) bear the responsibility for pulling off a great vacation. Partway through our trip down the coast, he realized that he’s the dad (he’s had four years for this to sink in) now. He does the driving and the planning and the getting us safely from place to place. At my parents’ condo, I’ve slipped into the role of mom, even though my mom is with us. I buy groceries. I cook. I do laundry. Meanwhile my parents enjoy the grandkids they don’t see often enough.

Oh, how times have changed.

5. I can appreciate how much work my parents put into our family vacations, especially in the dark ages before Google Maps could show you your hotel from a satellite picture or the Internet could help you find an out-of-the-way bird farm in somebody’s backyard in North Carolina. (It’s a real place, the subject of a blog to come.)

Surely we whined and asked “are we there yet?” a million times. Surely they wished we’d just fall asleep so they could have some peace and quiet. Surely they smacked themselves on the forehead when they realized they forgot to pack swim diapers for the toddler. Surely they wondered, at times, if it wouldn’t have been easier to stay home.

But surely, they also would have thought about how great the memories would be and maybe someday their kids would take their kids on vacation and make great family memories.

We’re having more fun than I thought was possible.

How has family redefined your idea of vacation?


One thought on “Vacationing with kids: top five reflections

  1. We just got done planning ours for this summer. I realize that we also plan more for their fun and not so much for our own. We’ve done a few of these in the past few years and have found that even while the focus of the fun has changed we find that we still enjoy ourselves fully while watching our boys love life and experience new things. I also fully appreciate (now) what my parents did for myself and my siblings so many years ago!

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