We are on a much-needed vacation this week. We arrived at Atlantic Beach yesterday and will head home for a “Staycation” for the rest of the week on
Wednesday. Vacation has not been without its challenges, though.
When we were preparing to become patents, I read all the usual books. I perused blogs, read articles, and talked to other parents. I got the message loud and clear that our lives were about to change drastically. I understood and was prepared: no more sleeping in? Check. No more just running out on the spur of the moment? Yep, takes MUCH longer. The difficulty of finding a babysitter for a night out? Got it. Despite all of that, what I didn’t understand or accept was how much our vacations would change. Beach vacations to me were slathering on sunscreen and reading books (note the plural) while sipping pineapple juice and vodka as J played in the ocean.
Boy was I in for a rude awakening our first vacation as a family. Daniel was about 14 months and into everything. We walked into our room at our traditional hotel and quickly agreed it was a nightmare for a toddler. It was also one room, so claustrophobia as well as the constant crunch of baby snacks on the floor, flung from the high chair, set in immediately. Books? Ha! The beach? Daniel decided the sand wasn’t nearly as fun as the water and darted for the ocean any chance he had. Dining out in fine restaurants? Ehhhh Daniel did well when we took him out, but some of our favorites were off limits b/c they were definitely NOT child friendly. In short, last year, vacation was not exactly restful and very much a culture shock.
This year I got it and tried to plan with our new reality in mind. I found a hotel that had a suite, thinking that a room separation would be a huge help at naptime and bedtime. I didn’t worry as much about child proofing b/c Daniel is older and it is simply not as much a worry. I didn’t feel like we needed to pack our entire house. I understood and accepted that vacation was just as different as the rest of our life and approached it with a much more zen-like attitude.
You can guess what’s coming? Life excels at throwing curve balls.
None of us slept well the night before and Daniel napped for only an hour on the way down. The room I had so thoroughly vetted was a bit smaller than I anticipated, and we weren’t sure how we were all going to sleep.
We headed for dinner at our traditional first-night restaurant, and Daniel was very much in his “no” phase. There were moments where I thought we were going to have to give up and leave, since I wad determined not to be THAT parent…the one who lets her child run around the restaurant while she feebly says, “No, no.”
But bedtime, oh bedtime. Daniel was very likely over-tired but would not go to sleep. By midnight, I had been designated as his cuddly of choice and J was sleeping on the pull-out couch. I say sleeping, but that may be too far from reality. It was alternately cold then hot. Daniel woke up at 6:30.
The day got better. We had a nice trip to the aquarium and after 30 minutes of crying, Daniel finally went down
for his nap. The clouds have cleared, and the beach looks great-hopefully ready for us after nap time is over.
What I’ve learned is that family vacations are thrilling, unpredictable adventures. I need to be more laid back and go-with-the- flow. As J said last night while Daniel was spinning the bread basket and licking off the butter instead of eating the bread–occasionally flicking Parmesan–we’re making memories. And those memories are what last once the sand and surf are gone.