Summer is finally here! It’s time to load up your minivan or midsize SUV and embark on that family vacation. The sun, the sand, the happy children playing on the beach all make for a picture-perfect trip. Photos of this vacation will adorn the lock screen of your iPhone for at least six months until Christmas rolls around. You will show them to strangers and tell them how your children are the best and will probably shatter world records one day.
But let’s be realistic. Family vacations aren’t always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it’s rainstorms and screaming children.
About three years ago, we made it all the way to Hartford before we realized that Henry wasn’t wearing any shoes. We pulled over to grab another pair out of his suitcase, but there were no shoes in the suitcase. Whoops. No big deal. Just an extra hour added onto the twelve-hour car trip.
Here are some of my most mediocre tips to make sure both you and your children have a fun, carefree vacation.
Make as many lists as possible before you leave. Make a list of the lists you need to make. I always make one list for each member of the family that I pack for, which is normally me and the boys. Then I make a list of the additional items that must be loaded in the car for any child three and under. This includes a pack and play, stroller, Boppy, DockATot, highchair, a large box of diapers, wipes, diaper bag, and more. There also has to be a list for pool gear and beach toys. Towels, beach bag, sunscreen, games, a tent, and chairs. This is another reason people with children choose to drive to their destination.
Stay somewhere with an indoor pool. Indoor pools are my jam. My kids LOVE them. They could literally spend hours playing in a hotel pool. It’s amazing. They love it when that over-chlorinated muggy pool air smacks them in the face. It must have something to do with the high chlorine level that triggers the fun zone in the brain of any human under 45.
[Disclaimer: Every indoor pool I have ever seen will forever remind me of the Executive Inn – RIP. And the green turf all around the pool, which I still see as a large design flaw. I have a core memory of going to a birthday party there when I was in maybe the second grade, and we spent the night, and we had a glass sliding door that opened to the pool. That was Lisa Frank, EZ Bake Oven, having cable at home cool.]
Make sure you do something you could have done at home, because it will be your kid’s favorite part of the trip. Ride in an elevator, see a dog on the street, take them to the zoo where their favorite animal will be a beetle, or an ant they find on the ground. Maybe even take them to McDonalds to get a Happy Meal. It will be the best meal they have ever had.
Lower your standards. I have to remind myself of this every time we take the kids on vacation. They deserve a little break too. Let them be wild and run free. Let them eat pizza for breakfast. Let them spend way too much time on the beach. Let them bury you in the sand. Let them watch their tablets at night in their beds. Give them enough freedom so they leave you alone, but not enough freedom to draw blood.
If you follow the tips above, you are most likely going to have a pretty amazing vacation. I hope you have enough fun to remind yourself that you still love your family on the ride home.