For many of us vacations signal a time for relaxation, a break from routine and a ton of fun. For a little while now, this hasn’t really been the case for me. It most likely coincided with the birth of Gracie and then again with Monty. I used to love heading out for the weekend, bikes on the car, tent packed up and yet now it fills me with dread and anxiety.
Our kids actually travel pretty well, they sleep fairly well, are no naughtier than usual and adapt to what is happening around them. I, on the other hand, turn into a complete stranger. I get uptight, anxious and become a complete helicopter parent, telling the kids and Eliot off for every small thing.
Is it the extra work of packing everything up and making sure you don’t forget the special stuffy or being away from the comfort and privacy of your own home or is it the great expectations I set for myself of how grand and perfect this vacation is going to be? I don’t know but if I could just find a way to relax, I know it would be so much more pleasant for everyone, especially me.
Case in point is last night we went out for dinner, the kids were given some crayons and a picture to color. We sat down, the kids drew on everything and then got bored so they started playing with their water cups and then mine and Eliot’s water cups. I knew it was a bad idea and I was trying to relax about it, I mean it is only water right. Then Monty proceeded to tip an entire 16oz (2 cups) of iced water on his lap, he cried and was miserable with all the wet, cold water. We wiped it up, I took a deep breath and then took Grace to the bathroom. I came back to find he had done it again, but this time with Eliot’s Mojito. I took another deep breath, dinner had arrived, we ate, the kids asked for ketchup repeatedly and of course didn’t eat half their dinners. We paid and left and Grace tells us she is still hungry as we are leaving, I start to lose it. I mean we just spent $85 on burgers and chips which she didn’t eat and she is still hungry? She has a tantrum in the middle of the street, we drag both kids back to the motel and put them to bed after giving them bread and fruit. And that was just the hour around dinner time, don’t start me on the rest of the day. Needless to say I was asleep at 9 PM straight after the kids.
I don’t want my vacations to be like this for me or my family, I want to be able to relax and enjoy the beautiful places we go to. Taking a deep breath doesn’t cut it, nor does the lure of a wine at the end of the day. I love my kiddos and Eliot, I love sharing adventures with them and seeing the most amazing places. I just need to figure out how to do it all without losing my mind in the process. I know lowering my expectations is part of it, I also know that understanding the limits of my children’s abilities will help. I do need to break away from the pack for a minute too, to allow some breathing space that is more than just one deep breath…