It can be quite easily argued that any travel involving kids is a trip and most certainly not a vacation. I’d agree. If your time at the beach involves attempting to reapply 50 SPF sunscreen onto a damp, sandy child, you are not vacationing. However, it is absolutely possible to make sure your next family trip has vacation moments. Follow these tips and luxuriate in vacation bliss…until your kid’s next meltdown.
Go with another family with kids.
Sure, the kids will fight like siblings at times, but they’ll also get along for extended stints that will allow the adults to sit and drink. Siblings might play together for twenty minutes, but a group of kids can entertain themselves with a game for at least an hour, or, as I like to think of it, two glasses of wine. Just make sure you travel with a family you can be in close quarters with and not want to murder. A close family friend you may just want to maim; a golf buddy may not make it back alive. Travel friends need to be those who, like family, won’t sever all ties with you after you spend half the trip talking about your gastrointestinal difficulties or when it turns out that your two children, individually, cry four times as much as their three combined.
Buy your husbands a keg.
Of course any vacation is going to involve copious amounts of alcohol, but if your husband brings a keg, you will most certainly find yourself on a vacation. It seems counter-intuitive, but trust me on this one ladies. Men like a challenge, and you know what happens to a keg once it’s tapped? It immediately starts going flat. Your husbands will be so motivated to kick this keg while it’s still got some gas, that they will do anything to find a way to conquer it – like offer a ladies night. Yes, it’s so they can sit around drinking beer and playing poker without your judging eyes, but, when it means you and your girlfriend find yourself out at a dinner where no one orders chicken fingers and you get a proper drink, who cares what the reason is?
Book a house with an outdoor shower, preferably filled with bees.
There’s been a lot of hype recently about hiding from your children in the bathroom. Perhaps that works for people who, unlike me, have locks on their bathroom doors. At home, our bathroom is most certainly not a sanctuary, as every shower involves, at best, one of my children opening the bathroom door and letting the heat out, or, at worst, flinging the shower curtain open and asking me about various moles or why my stomach looks “squishy.” An enclosed outdoor shower is one of life’s greatest luxuries. Not only do you get to cloud gaze while rinsing your hair, but the shower itself locks, which means I can bathe without the threat of my children’s harsh bodily criticisms. Add a family of bees who likes to show up every time the water turned on like we did, and your children won’t go within a ten foot radius of that thing. Locks and bees mean one thing – a spa vacation every time mama showers!
Go to a restaurant where the median age of the other customers is 72.
Again, this sounds stressful and terrifying, and it is…at first. Then you realize that everyone in the place is either dying for grandkids or misses their own. If you and your children stroll into a restaurant crowded with 30- or 40-somethings, then turn around and walk back out, because these people are currently basking in the glory of a childless night and may pay-off a waitress for the opportunity to spit in your entree. The older set though? They’re desperate for some interaction with the little ones. If you find your table beside that of an elderly woman, sit back and bask in a meal filled with cocktails and adult conversation, because she would love to engage your small children in chit chat and offer to give your baby a bottle for the entirety of your meal.
Swallow your pride and bring the damn iPad.
Bringing your child to the beach is one of life’s most exhausting experiences. The packing, the constant vigilance, and carrying a toddler while trudging through hot sand leave you depleted. Imagine how your nap-less kid feels. I am all for limiting screen time, but when my children have been running around in the sun all day, what they need before dinner is not a game of kickball in the backyard. Just like me, they need to chill. Let the kids veg out in the late afternoon with a video so you can sip a cocktail, read some Yelp reviews to help select the evening’s restaurant choice, and update your Facebook page. Just make sure you crop out any of your crying kids in the photos you post so that everyone in your news feed can be jealous of your VACATION.
Any family trip is going to be filled with countless “are we there yets,” tearful toddlers, and stressed-out parents. But follow these tips and those moments will be lost in a sea of vacation memories.