Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Survive a Vacation with your children...

bring your babysitter with you!

hahahahahaha... just kidding. But wouldn't that be great!?!

We are just finishing up a long stay at a family beach house. We are very, very blessed to have this beautiful place to get away from city life, and it has been a gorgeous month.

However... I am also really, really happy that the kids are starting camp on Monday morning! I will be dropping them off with a big smile, a hearty wave and a relieved "See you in 8 hours kids!!!"

Because let's be honest: a vacation with your children is not really a vacation. It can be lovely fun, but it's not exactly a loll around on your beach towel reading for hours kind of thing. As soon as you get all comfortable on your beach towel and open up that book you've been dying to read... some little person who's well-being you are responsible for needs to use the bathroom, or is hungry, or has fallen and scraped their hands, or is desperate to show you the dead crab they just fished out from the ocean.

You will never finish that novel.

Here are my tips for enjoying yourself while vacationing with kids.
demonstrating their excellent restaurant manners

1. Keep It Simple.  Food = Simple. Activities = Simple. Wardrobes = Simple.

Pretty much every day this month we got up, ate some toast or cereal for breakfast, put on our bathing suits and went swimming. We went to the beach.  Or we went to the other beach. Or the lake. Or the swimming hole.  Then we ate some sandwiches, fruit and carrot sticks for lunch. Then the kids ran around or played ball or rode their bikes or we went swimming again. Then we ate nachos for snack. (Daniel is a HUGE fan of nachos. We went through 8 bottles of salsa this month. 8 large bottles.) Then we went up to the ice cream parlor and got some ice cream. Then we started cocktail time dinner (spaghetti/mac n cheese/rice and beans, repeat), read some books, and went to bed. When it rained we visited the local library, or they watched movies on the computer or played in the attic. There were occasional trips to town to visit the five and dime and the grocery story for bribes toys and more salsa. Sometimes we put ourselves through hell went to a restaurant to eat. Other than that, it was peanut butter, nachos, ice cream and spaghetti. Bathing suits and bikes.
super excited to have taught his cousin how to make his favorite treat!!!

2. Try to keep the adult:child ratio balanced. 

My minimum for a vacation is a 3:2 adult:child ratio. That way, one person watches the kids, another one is cooking/cleaning/doing laundry/running errands, and the third person gets to relax. Keep rotating, and for at least 1/3 of the time, you get to relax! And, you also get the fun of fighting with the other two folks about who is spending more time doing chores and who is getting away with too much relaxing. It's just really not a family vacation without that argument.
swimmin' hole. no fear.

3. Keep Stocked Up.

You may have little people to keep alive, but this is still your vacation. So, stock up on your favorite vacation treats! We always have a ready supply of good strong coffee, chilled white wine, cocktail mixers, and sweets. My pants are bit snug, but my spirit is loose.

4. Put them to bed early.

Lily has been heading up to bed around 6:30PM this month. Daniel is in pajamas by 7:30PM.  Yes, it's light out til 9PM, and yes the neighbor kids are still out riding their bikes... but no matter. Bedtime! By 8PM, the house is quiet, and I have time to pour myself another glass of wine herbal tea and enjoy my vacation. Lily will be climbing into my bed by 6AM to wake me up, and by 7AM the house is a unholy noisy mess again.  The day time is theirs, the evenings are mine.

If you don't put them to bed early, how will you ever finish that novel?
It's all about the ice cream.

5. Relax the rules, but not all the rules.

One thing I want my children to learn is that whether we are on vacation or at home, we are a family who helps each other out. So, since I still need to cook and do laundry, the kids still need to do chores. Tables must be cleared, toys picked up, garbage taken out. There has been a fair amount of grumbling about this, but not too much louder than the grumbling I hear at home.

On the other hand, it is vacation. So yes, you can eat ice cream every day. And yes, we will get that ridiculous toy from the bargain bin that will probably break in 5 minutes but be glorious, if brief, fun.  Yes, you can have nachos for breakfast. Yes we will listen to that ridiculous song on the radio, again.

And yes, we will take you to the lake to swim for 4 hours. I need to tire you out, anyway, so I can get you to bed early and start enjoying my vacation.

How do you survive enjoy family vacations?

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