Thursday, July 25, 2013

Five things I'm glad I packed for our family vacation

A two week family vacation with small children is, at least for me, a marathon. A never ending cycle of meal prep, meal clean up, swim suit hanging up, beach bag packing, "remember to wear your helmet!" shouting... cleaning sand, mud, grass off everything! It's EXHAUSTING.  Wonderful, memorable, delightful, but exhausting. One of these days my vacations will again involving sipping wine and watching the sun set over a beautiful city, but not for a few years, I think. Until then...

Here are five things I'm really glad I packed for our family vacation at the beach, and a couple of things I wish I had...

1. A set of plastic cups, plates and utensils. We are staying at a family beach house. Yes, we are very lucky and blessed to have a beautiful house to stay in just a few steps from the ocean. Thank goodness, because otherwise we'd have to camp, and Andrew doesn't do camping (and I'm not sure I do anymore either)  The house is fully equipped with utensils, but my children are still at the dropping/breaking/losing-in-the-bushes phase, and so I've been grateful to have cheap, dishwasher safe and unbreakable dishes.  I only wish they were all the same color, so I could avoid the "I want the PINK cup!!!!" thing.

2. Some predictable favorites: blanket, doll, book.  Having some cuddly beloved things from home has made bedtime much easier (or should I say, possible).  I'm reading the same 3 board books every night, but they're pretty good (and short), so I don't mind. Sleeping in a different bed in a new house that has different night sounds and is much darker is scary for any kid. Having her favorite doll and blanket to cuddle makes Lily feel safe.

3. Novelties for the car. It's a looooong trip to the beach house, so this year I packed a bag of new little trinkets for the kids to open and play with on the ride up. I ended up with enough fun new things for every hour, and it made the trip go a little smoother. We made a bit of a game of it, with mini quizzes to "earn" the trinkets. It also gave me some leverage against the "Are we there yet!?", "She's on MY SIDE!" whining.  This year's hits were: fake mustaches, stickers, little animals and squishy light up balls. I'm still finding those hairy black mustaches in the oddest places...

4. ALL Lily's hair products.  Last year I brought only a couple of things, and I regretted it. This year I just put the whole caddy of tools right into the car. And I'm glad I did, since I used the products on Lily, Daniel and their cousin as well as myself. Because I forgot to pack my own hair products.

5. Extra patience and a measure of flexibility. I have so many fond memories of my own childhood vacations in this beach house... the hours spent riding my bike, exploring the beach, playing board games and making up plays with my sister. I want to give my kids memories like that, which means being a bit more flexible about some of our rules. They've had candy treats, TONS of ice cream, stayed up a bit late, and eaten much more fried food than we usually consume.  Long days without the help of babysitters or daycare or camp means lots more "mommy-on" time than I'm used to, but also lots more time watching them have fun.  It's a kid paradise up here, and I've got the best seat in the house. 

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