What is the first thing you get asked when telling your closest friends about a vacation? Immediately following, “Where are you going?” It’s usually “Kids. Or no kids?” If no kids, you might often hear, “SO a REAL vacation then! Yay for you!”
If you are traveling with kids though you may look down, for a second shake your head… and quietly explain, “Yeah with the kids.” You are excited, but are also contemplating all the extra traveling logistics that will be in play, and your mind has wondered down a conundrum of all the many, many ways this “vacation” could go awry — Kids are freaking wildcards after all! So, you look at your friend knowingly, as you both half laugh and say, “So not really a vacation then…”
Trust me. I GET IT. I am not a well-seasoned traveler. I am NOT great at getting even myself packed and organized, and can get completely overwhelmed by the prospect of traveling with kids (especially on planes—eek!), and my kids are tiny — a 2-year-old and a 10-month old.
But I also find myself cringing at the statement, “It’s not a real vacation then; it’s a trip.” To be fair, a statement I have made time and time again.
So it definitely might not necessarily be your most relaxing vacation. And we all know how well little children sleep when room sharing and bed sharing in squished hotels. However, how well did you sleep the last weekend away at that Bachelorette party you were at? And that hangover from your couple’s getaway or girl’s weekend? Full body fatigue and feeling a little green? Oh, Just me?
Even if you didn’t let the social libations get the better of you, have you ever climbed a 14er, gone backpacking, or camping? Again… pretty exhausting. Yet I would consider all of these trips VACATIONS. There are relaxing vacations, party vacations, couple’s getaways, adventure vacations, and then there are family VACATIONS. Each of these types of vacations offers a different type of release, experience, and bonding.
My favorite memories of my childhood were our Colorado vacations. It was not a trip. It was a vacation from every aspect of our regular routines, sights, sounds, and chalked full of new experiences and scenery. I remember laughing for hours into the night playing “Spoons,” and to this day I get misty-eyed nostalgic from even the smell of a s’more or campfire.
Why are we so quick to take away this vacation title if the littles are invited too? Is it because we are still “on the job” as parents? Yes. It is hard work, and taking care of children is more still hard work on “vacation.” But being a parent is actually not my job, and I am making that statement as a stay-at-home mom. In fact, I know for sure that it’s not my job because every day I check my mailbox for a paycheck and nothing is there. Sucks. Right? Meh. I chose to have kids because I embraced all that it would entail, hard work and all. Yes. I most definitely need a break from my kids. That break comes in the form of girl’s night outs, hobbies, or dates, but just because my vacation does not include a break from my children does not mean it is not a vacation.
A family vacation is a type of vacation. In my humble opinion, probably one of the most special kind. A “vacation” to me speaks to a place you go to create cherished memories and experiences. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing these experiences through the eyes of a child. In our house we haven’t had the opportunity to take many vacations due to very limited time off and life circumstances. Therefore, we find ways to make the MOST of numerous staycations. What most people would consider “just” a weekend away, we cherish. And even though our kids invite utter chaos even on these mini vacations, they have been our favorite moments in time. We laugh, cry, bond, and enjoy many firsts through the eyes of our children. We have so much fun though.
You know what is not a “vacation?” Maternity/paternity postpartum leave, funerals, and business travel.
But intentionally traveling with the people you love most to a desired destination? Busy? Yes. Exhausting? Definitely. But a vacation? Absolutely.