Friday, August 31, 2012

A solution for the vacation conundrum

On Parenting

Need a vacation from your vacation. Don't worry. It happens to all of us.

Taking the kids on the road always sounds like such a great idea.  We can get a way.  See new places.  Relax.  Oh, to relax. Even for a mere moment.  It is more precious than gold to any parent.

Wait. Relax? 

Did you forget that you will have your offsrping with you as you truck down the highway headed for a hotel room one-tenth the size of your actual house?  Or even a tent.

What exactly are you getting away from, again? Just the actual house?

Don’t get me wrong, I love taking a vacation with the kids.  It’s the stuff that makes life so great.  And as the regular and mundane daily existence fades in memory, it's the vacation memories that will linger.  As with all good memories, the fondness of those memories will almost always grow as time goes by. Remember that time we drove to Florida? That was great.

None of that, however, takes away the immediate pain of a vacation with children -- the “knock-it-off-or-I’ll-turn-this-car-around” moments that bring us all to our on-the-road breaking point.

Ah, vacation.

My wife and I learned some time ago that the best way to enjoy our vacations was to bring one of the sets of in-laws. My parents or her parents, whichever one is able.  It is a must.

These built-in baby sitters love the kids and actually want to spend time with them – even on vacation.This allows us to have a night out, read a book, actually sleep in.  Whatever.

Without them, it just would not be a vacation – more a kid-filled family adventure. Which can be fun as well, but is hardly a vacation.

This summer, our family went on two vacations. One week-long break at the beach, and a long-weekend in the mountains. Her parents came to the first, mine to the second.

And thank god they did.  Sure, it adds some personalities to the mix, and after a week it can get tough dealing with extended family and all their flaws.  And at some point the relaxation quotient is reduced by the tension factor. 

But, for a few days it is well worth it. 

We were actually able to do the things that help us relax.  We actually went out to dinner, just me and the wife.  She read a book.  I went fishing - alone.  One day, we even slept in until 9:00 a.m.  It was like we were in college again.    

We also did tons of stuff together as a family.  We swam every day, walked the beach, watched the sunset.  We went on hikes, rode in paddle boats, and I took the kids fishing. 

The children loved every minute of it.  And the grandparents did too.  They actually cried when they had to say good-bye to the little rascals.  I felt like crying, but for a different reason.

Still, we had actual vacations this summer, filled with wonder kid-filled memories – and a few without.

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