I was talking to a (single, childless) acquaintance the other day and she mentioned how badly she needed a vacation. I stood there, shaking my head and sipping my wine. Honey, you have no idea.
So here we are, two days into our first little family vacation. It’s 6:45pm and I’m in my pajamas due to pure exhaustion, so that should probably give you an idea of how much relaxing we’ve done so far.
Vacationing with children is really just parenting in a different place. No matter how far you drive or how long of a flight you take, the responsibilities somehow find a way to hide inside your carry on and tag along for the trip (or scream their way through the entire flight, if you’re unlucky). Just because you’ve decided to “vacation” doesn’t mean that there will be any shortage of the usual chores, like washing bottles or changing diapers. It’s just that they will be three times more challenging because hotel rooms don’t provide dish soap, changing tables, or diaper genies.
In our childless life, I would have most enjoyed evenings at happy hour and nights spent drinking cocktails on the beach, depending where we were vacationing. But traveling with a child is a completely different experience. I was a little disappointed that because we were sharing a standard hotel room with our toddler, we’d have to sit in the room and do something quiet until bedtime so that we wouldn’t wake him. Needless to say, after waking up at the crack of dawn and chasing a toddler through Washington DC, including two Smithsonian museums, at least five monuments, and a walk to The White House, I could barely stay awake to put him to bed, much less to do anything else exciting afterwards.
For the most part, I’ve learned that vacation with children takes flexibility and planning – two things that are not my strong suit. For instance, my son, who is lactose intolerant, drinks only vanilla almond milk. After walking around the city, tearing through several stores, and shedding some serious sweat, I realized that I probably should have make some phone calls before dragging my husband and son around on a two mile almond milk mission. I also had to accept that my son’s nap times would most likely all take place while he sat in his stroller, rather than getting the usual two sold strait hours in his crib like I had hoped.
But guess what? Between almond milk missions and short naps on-the-go, we survived. Not only did we survive, actually, we had a blast. While this vacation might not have included romantic walks on the beach or late night cocktails in the city, it sure was fun – and probably more memorable than anything we ever did before having kids. That being said, next year, my husband and I are totally planning a childless getaway featuring spa treatments, happy hours, and a hell of a lot of sleeping in.