Every year when vacation time comes around I remember my first few vacation years with little ones. In my opinion the word “vacation” shouldn’t be applied to a trip with small children. It is like applying the word dessert to a bowl of carrots. Dessert is a term that describes gooey chocolate cake warmed to perfection with a big serving of vanilla ice cream right beside it. In much the same way, the word “vacation” arouses visions of quiet time, reading by the ocean, the sound of the waves, nice uninterrupted meals, and sleeping in late.
My husband and I were married for a few years before we had children, so we were able to take a few vacations with just the two of us. One week at the beach with my husband and me always stands out in my mind. It was wonderful. A few years later children came along, however, my mind still thought vacations were like the week my husband and I had at the beach. I was sorely disappointed to learn they are not. In fact, it was a hard lesson to learn.
Once children came along, my parents vacationed with us, helping us with whatever they could. Yet even being in a great place with great help, I still remember being disappointed by the lack of rest and relaxation. I remember spending the weeks leading up to “vacation” imagining a time of ease and leisure only to be surprised when I was frustrated half way through the week.
You see, children are children even at the happiest place on earth.
They get tired, spill things, are picky eaters, and don’t like to sit through meals even at a nice seafood restaurant on the beach. Why did I think that because we were on “vacation” that they would suddenly act like appreciative adults?
After a couple years of daydreaming weeks in advance about family “vacation,” only to be disappointed every year, I quickly realized I had to change the way I looked at things. Instead of thinking of vacation as a break from life, I had to see it as a chance to do the everyday things in a fun location! I had to look at vacation from my child’s perspective. I learned to see the ocean again for the first time through their eyes! Instead of thinking “how late can I sleep in,” I thought “I have the chance to get up early and go look for a treasure on the beach.” I still remember one morning several years ago when my four oldest children, my mom, and I got up before sunrise and had a great morning watching the sky come alive with all of its beautiful colors. It was so magical that I wasn’t mad that I didn’t get to sleep in. Instead I have great memories and great pictures from that trip!
Once I let go of my idea of what a “vacation” was supposed to be,
I was finally able to enjoy the week.
Now that my kids are older, travel has gotten much easier. They can occupy themselves on flights and long car rides. They can sit through meals and clean up after themselves. They are a lot of fun and they know how to have a great time. On our last trip, the 5 oldest even had their own cameras which made them slow down and look at the beautiful scenery we were blessed to see. Now as they look at their pictures I love hearing what they saw as the highlights of the trip.
Vacations are fun times where memories are made, however some memories are only funny a few years down the road. For instance, last year our flight was delayed 7 hours because of a piece of the plane’s floor missing! This was not a great memory to me. However, the other day I overhead my son telling someone about that day. He laughed and laughed as he told them how we got free food vouchers, Coke, and Oreos! In his mind it was a great memory! What could be better than free Oreos!
Life is what you make of it. Vacations are that way too! So if you are a mom of little ones going on vacation – go and have a great time! You may not get the rest you want, or uninterrupted meal you want, but enjoy the opportunity to make memories. Seeing things for the first time through kids eyes is a lot of fun! You never know – you too may get stuck at the airport all afternoon with Oreos and Coke, and according to my son that is a great way to start a trip!