Remember your honeymoon? You sat on a beach and drank fruity, tropical, alcohol-laden drinks while soaking up sun and reading from your sappy romance novel. You lazily looked at the ocean and thought, ‘maybe I’ll go in the water soon’ and smiled at your husband. You slept in. Until all hours of the day. Or napped while sitting on your lounge chair. You scheduled massages and had long dinners out where you could talk about nothing or everything without interruption. When you came home, you wanted to jump right back on the plane and head back to that amazing place, but at least your tan reminded you of how amazing your time was and you could revel in the afterglow for awhile.
Flash forward 6 years and two kids later. You’re laying on the couch in serious pain because you threw your neck out while trying to carry your infant and your friend’s infant, one in a baby Bjorn and the other in your arms (bad idea, by the way), and your children are screaming from their pack n plays because they are uncomfortable. You don’t spend much time on the beach due to nap time, and the sand and sunscreen makes you sick rather than nostalgic. No one feels like going anywhere, even you, and your bedtime rivals your children’s because they are barely sleeping in this new, strange place. You don’t drink half of the beer or alcohol you have, because you pass out on the couch before you can get into drink #2, and you decide to leave early because everyone is miserable. (True story, by the way.)
When did everything get so complicated? You can try to replicate the feelings you had while on your honeymoon, or even ANY vacation pre-kids, but you can’t seem to channel the same feel-good fuzziness that you felt because you have two little munchkins, screaming in your face, and you and your husband can’t muster up the energy to do anything besides sit on the couch or floor and let your kids crawl all over you, which is exactly the same thing you’d do at your home. So why go anywhere anyways? Why spend the money to just go somewhere else that you’d do the same thing you’d do at your house?
A year ago, my mother-in-law asked us if we wanted to go with her to Disney World. My husband and I thought about it for a half-second. With our children at 3 and 1 years-old, we knew we’d be miserable. And so would they. It wasn’t so much the packing, traveling or even finding a place and money, it was everything else that came with going. Spending time in the parks, keeping everyone happy (including mommy and daddy), and trying to survive on as little sleep as possible without wanting to crawl under a rock and forget about the world for awhile. I mean, we know we’ll eventually go. Isn’t that the mecca every family has to make at least once in their lifetime? We just know we’re not ready to do it yet. Maybe when the kids are old enough to drive us so we can drink to get through the craziness of all of the Disney stuff.
Seriously, though, how does one enjoy vacations with kids? Or even survive one without feeling like they never want to go on one ever again? I don’t ever remember my parents avoiding vacations. It always seemed like they enjoyed them, and we went to the beach, Disney, and other places several times each. Was I just oblivious to how awful the vacation was to my parents? Did they dread it but smiled through it? They took a few vacations while we were young, and left us with our aunt each time (and every time, I ended up with some sort of illness, but that’s for another time) so maybe they knew that they had those “parents-only” vacations to look forward to, and therefore, they could get through their family vacations easier.
Regardless of how the vacation is, they happen. My eldest is starting to request us going to the beach or to grandma and grandpa’s beach house. Whether they would notice if it was their actual house vs. some time spent with them, I have no idea. Due to the stress that builds when I start to pack, or even start to think about planning a vacation, I will avoid them as much as possible until my husband is dragging me out to the packed car. And while its happening, I’ll try to find my happy place, that tropical nirvana that appeared to only exist, pre-kids.