Having a Great Vacation with the Kids
As you moms out there already know, if you include your children in your activities, anything you decide to do instantly takes on the characteristics of a military operation, with logistical issues and skirmishes, or sometimes all-out war. This becomes an issue when you want to go on vacation, because of course the point is to relax and not have to worry so much. But when you want to take the kids with you on your trip, how do you cope? The key is planning in advance, and making sure that you have a good variety of things to do.
Be thorough when you’re doing your hotel or resort research. Do they have a daycare? What about at night, are babysitting services available when the hot night clubs are open? Sure, you want to spend time with your children, but remember that this is your vacation, too, and sometimes it’s nice to go out and do grown-up things without the kids tagging along. Set aside at least one day where you can let the kids do adult-supervised activities elsewhere, and you and your partner can go off and do your own thing. This is especially fun for kids who are starting to want more independence, because they can feel like they’re having a vacation of their own for part of the time.
Keep in mind that what your kids claim they want to do may not be the same as what they will actually want to do when they get there. A hiking vacation may sound like a good idea on paper, and the kids may agree enthusiastically in theory, but if you know from experience that they find camping boring, or they whine and complain every time you take them for a walk anywhere, chances are their enthusiasm is only based on some romantic notion about what a hiking trip is going to be like. Judge from your experience— you know the difference between what they really enjoy versus what they only claim to enjoy. The last thing you want is to get to your destination and have the children complaining of boredom after the second day. Also, if your kids cover a wide range of ages, make sure there’s something for everyone so that no one feels left out.
Be aware of the possibility of surprises. Life is not perfect, and sometimes things happen. Hotels can change their activities lists or the hours that their child care is available. Sometimes you book tickets for something but the reservation accidentally gets lost. It is essential to keep your cool and not freak out if things don’t go according to plan 100% of the time. Spending hours screaming at hotel staff about some unfulfilled expectation is only going to ruin your own day as well as your family’s, and in the end you probably won’t get what you wanted anyway. By all means, speak to the manager and arrange to be compensated for your disappointment, but also have a Plan B ready so that the vacation can continue without a hitch. Often if something is not as you had hoped, the hotel or excursion company will be sympathetic and offer you another activity or option that you may end up liking even better. Be open to any possibility, and keep the kids excited about whatever activity comes up, even if it wasn’t your first choice.
Remember, vacation is supposed to be relaxing, and even with the kids in tow it can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone if you play your cards right. An abundance of activities and rest time is essential, as is time with the kids as well as some time alone. Most importantly, strike a balance between being in control and letting go — get all your ducks in a row before you leave, with plenty of contingency plans just in case, and then when you finally get to your vacation you can kick back and relax with your family, and let your careful preparation do all the work for you.