Finding vacation mode

watching the oceanIt has been a while since I last posted (sorry!), but the absence has been for a good reason. My family and I went on an eight day vacation to Mexico for a wedding with our entire immediate and extended family. Since returning home I’ve been recovering from vacation! After all, as a good friend once told me, vacationing with kids is not vacationing. It’s “parenting elsewhere”…parenting elsewhere without your normal creature comforts, routines, or anything else familiar. Of course, it was great spending time with family, seeing my kids digging in the sand and getting time away from normal life. But it took me the first 4 days of “vacation” to adjust and relax into vacation mode, which included:

  1. “Vacation” sleep: Four of us in one room is not much of a vacation. At home we are fortunate enough to put each child to sleep in her own room and attend to each of their needs separately and as we so choose. With all of us in one room, one child could see what the other was “getting,” like being rocked by daddy or snuggled by mommy, immediately inciting the “that’s not fair” complex and demanding equity. But really, nothing is equitable about sharing a room all together. After all, “vacation” sleep includes the inevitable moment where you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, only to have one of the kids pop up and say “Is it morning, Mommy? I want to come in your bed!” Of course, the alternative is crawling low along the floor so the kids don’t see you while you make your way to pee… and don’t think I haven’t done it!
  1. “Vacation” diets: It’s one thing to go on vacation as an adult and make an educated and calculated choice to break whatever “diet” you keep at home to adapt to whatever food is available on your vacation, including the potentially more frequent ice cream cone. But taking kids on vacation brings an entirely new meaning to vacation diet. It doesn’t help that we were staying at an all-inclusive where the choices were simultaneously plentiful and limited, especially when my kids are used to particular foods and choices. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we found ourselves forcing our kids to eat yogurt or eggs for breakfast before they could have a daily dose of Fruit Loops, convincing the beachside cafe to throw a slice of American cheese on a bun and then to grill it for our kids to eat their favorite sandwich for lunch with a “healthy” helping of French fries, and then encountering our dinner free for all of finding whatever we could get them to eat… usually boiling down to chicken nuggets. Any of these items at home once a week would be fine, but once a day for a week was rough. And the ice cream… oh the ice cream! Let’s just say we went on a “treat hiatus” after we got home to try to flush their systems (and memories) of the frequent sweets and to remind them of what a regular meal should actually consist of (hint: it did not include fruit loops or French fries).snuggled at the beach
  1. Vacation rules: Rules? What rules? Of course we were conscious of trying to maintain consistency from home to vacation, but whereas at home we have rules about how much TV the kids are watching, that rule went out the window the second we stepped on the plane and found the easiest way to keep our kids quiet and in their seats was watching cartoons on the iPad. Whereas at home we have strict guidelines about our bedtime routines, that rule went out the window the minute we realized that any sleep while on vacation is precious (see #1). Whereas at home we are consistent about schedules, expectations, and most aspects of life, on vacation there are too many unknowns and variables to maintain consistency. Like I said, rules? What rules?

All that aside, we had a great time. However, this experience lies in stark contrast to this past weekend… one in which my husband and I went away to Vegas with other adults while the kids stayed home. Did we miss them? Yes! Did we have an actual, by definition, vacation? YES! It took me about 30 seconds to settle into vacation mode on this trip, which included:

  1. Vacation sleep: We slept. A lot. In one night we got almost 11 hours of sleep… I couldn’t tell you when the last time was that we’ve done that but I know it hasn’t been in the last 4 years!
  1. Vacation diets: I can’t say we ate healthier on this trip than on the other, but we did get to enjoy a nice meal that did not include any chicken nuggets. Ironically, it still included French fries… the universal crowd pleaser, I suppose.
  1. Vacation rules: Rules? What rules? In Vegas there are no rules.

with the hubsThese contrasting experiences don’t deter me more from one or attract me more toward another type of vacation, but the acknowledgment of the differences between the two help to set up expectations from the get go. And these differences definitely remind me that having a vacation from the “vacation” doesn’t hurt either!

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