Vacation VS Family Trip:

Our Grayson alarm sounded promptly at 4:20am this morning. And this came on the heels of a text I sent my mom yesterday (literally…YESTERDAY) saying “we seem to be over the 2am and 4am wake-ups”. Touché Grayson, touché. James and I are going on a real vacation next week. And by “real vacation” I mean…our kids are not coming. We went on a “family trip” with our kids in March. And about 24 hours into that trip I emailed our travel agent. Now, mind you, that 24 hours included an 8 hour delay at O’hare airport resulting in a flight that caused us to miss dinner and then we ended the day in a two hour rental car line that lasted until 11pm. So, from our family trip and booked our vacation. And now here we sit about 72 hours before wheels up.

James and I talk a lot about being fresh for our kids. We talk about it a lot, but in reality there just is not much time in our day to day schedule to do and enjoy the things that keep us fresh. The things that keep me fresh are having a cup of coffee in the morning to collect my thoughts before anyone else is up or going for a long walk alone after work or watching a 60 minute Bravo show without pausing it a million times or heaven forbid drinking a cup of coffee without microwaving it twenty times. For James this may mean a long bike ride in the morning or being able to mow the lawn and edge all in one round or sitting down with a book or eating dinner during the week before 8:30pm. The truth is that most days we work in just enough “us” time to get to bed at a reasonable hour and do it all again. I drink my coffee while I get ready for work and Grayson orders us around to change the show or fix the chocolate to white milk ratio in his cup. I take a long walk after work with both of my kids and walk 1/2 the distance in double the time, reloading snacks and negotiating to use gentle hands. My Bravo shows collect in my DVR and usually get deleted to make room for PJ Masks or Little Einstein’s. And, I rarely drink a coffee without at least 3 stints in the microwave. (Insert writing break to microwave my coffee). And James’ reality is bike rides pulling both kids in the bike trailer while looking back regularly to make sure the boys are not beating each other up in the trailer. If he is lucky he can mow the whole lawn in one day. And then maybe, but rarely, the edging happens before the next mow. Reading books is pretty limited to anything by Eric Carle and Sandra Boynton. And dinner is regularly served after 8pm. We figure out ways to work in the things that are important to us, they just happen a little differently than we may have imagined.

So, the idea of 5 whole days on vacation that are just about us is almost too much to process. So many times over the last month I’ve told people that we are going on a vacation to Mexico and everyone’s first question is “are you brining your kids>” The answer is a firm no, and here is why….

Family Trip: Building lifelong memories with your children. Moments of pure bliss and joy mixed in with moments of complete chaos and disarray. Being away from your house without a schedule or a routine and without all of the stuff you need to get through the day. A period of time in which most members of the family are under slept, over stimulated and exceptionally irritable. Tears (from the kiddos and the mommy) are likely.

Vacation: Truly vacating all of the stress and struggles of day-to-day life. An opportunity to have adult conversations and adult cocktails without worrying about possible middle of the night wake-ups. No schedules. No Routines. No problem! A period of time in which mom and dad can sleep and sleep and sleep. Moments of missing the kiddos, but otherwise completely enjoyable.

Travel to a Family Trip: Strollers, car seats, bags…oh my! More stuff than 2 people can handle while carting 2 little people around the airports. Stimulants, distractions, meltdowns. Kind strangers offering a helpful hand. Judgy strangers making me cry. Juice cups, snacks, activities. A hope and prayer that we all survive. Buckle in folks…it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Travel to a Vacation: One bag, my own bag. Filled with my stuff and only my stuff. No Strollers, no car seats, no wrangling kiddos while trying to load our gear. Bloody Mary’s in hand within moments of walking into the airport. Smooth sailing.

Sleep on a Family Trip: Sporadic, unpredictable, minimal.

Sleep on a Vacation: Abundant, blissful, without interruption, plentiful.

Outings on Family Trip: Requires bag packing, schedule planning, meal preparations.

Outings on a Vacation: Requires flip flops.

Meals on a Family Trip: If we are brave enough to try this requires all of our normal tricks: coloring books, snacks, iPad, stickers, suckers. Plus and acceptance that inevitably one of us will spend at least 75% of the meal outside exploring with Grayson.

Meals on a Vacation: Requires Hunger.

Cocktails on a Family Trip: Requires rock, paper, scissors to determine who will handle the inevitable middle of the night wake ups. More time is spend refreshing cocktails that melt or spill before being enjoyed. A valiant effort that generally ends with both parents giving up and deciding that the effort may not be worth the prize.

Cocktails on a Vacation: Requires a cup.

Pool Time on a Family Trip: Requires the world’s biggest bag of crap ever! Sun tan lotion (Spray and lotion since Grayson’s preference changes daily), towels, pool toys, goggles, noodles, flip flops, swim diapers, swim suit, cover-ups, snacks, hats, sunglasses, flotation devices. (If you are at the beach add: buckets, shovels, Umbrella shelter, extra towels, and a cooler for juice and snacks). 9 million sun screen applications. Usually done while chasing the kiddo down around the pool looking like a crazy person. And dear lord you are a pool with a required “safety check” every hour. Cuz trying to explain to toddlers who want to swim is the lifeguards extra special way of saying “F-You, oh yeah, and I SO do not have kids yet so I’m giving you judgy looks and have no clue what I am in store for.”

Pool Time on a Vacation: Requires a pool.

Ok, so you probably get the distinction here. Please do not get me wrong….I love my children. They are the absolutely joy of my existence. However, I also know that to be good for them I need to be fresh. I need to give myself an opportunity to recharge my batteries. I need to step outside of the schedule and the monotony of our day-to-day life. And believe me, by the time we are wheels down in Mexico we will have already talked about our kiddos and looked at pictures of them a dozen times. Our hearts are always at home, but sometimes our heads and our bodies need to be in Mexico without them. I’m just saying!

JS

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