Traveling with young kids is not for the faint of heart. Heck, traveling with kids of any age is generally a free-for-all: someone is crying, someone is bleeding at some point, someone forgot their shoes, someone forgot to charge the iPad, someone is causing everyone else to be late, someone will probably puke, and on and on and on. Sadly, I’m not here to tell you anything different. I’m not going to tell you it’s a walk in the park. I don’t have any tips for you.
Traveling with kids is hard.
I know everyone says it will get easier as the kids get older, but I think little kid problems just get replaced with big kid problems. Vacations, whether big or small, will always be hectic. Toss in an extended-family-vacation and by the end of it, you’re walking around with your head detached from your body.
The kids are running entirely on sugar fumes, the sleeping is nonexistent, and you’re bound to have a delayed flight or hit major traffic on the interstate. Someone will need to pee every three minutes, the baby will refuse to cooperate with anything, you’ll forget that you brought the family dog at least once, and you’ll wonder why you booked a place with a kitchen because it’s not like your children will magically decide to eat your meals just because there’s been a change of scenery.
Take the trip anyway.
Pack the suitcases full of tiny clothes, cram diapers in any space you can find, bring ALL the chargers you own, and leave behind any expectations from your normal life. I mean it: the fewer expectations you have, the easier the trip will be on everyone. (I wish I knew this two kids ago).
It will be absolute chaos. You will return home needing a vacation FROM the vacation you just took because you will be utterly exhausted. There will be enough laundry for twice as many people as there are in your family. As all of us mamas know, a family vacation isn’t really a vacation for Mom.
Mama, take the trip.
You will look back at photos and see the joy of your littles in a new part of the world. You will look back on home videos and wonder where your baby went and how they grew up on you so fast. You will look back and remember the early mornings and late nights with fondness, even though you were dog-tired in the moment. You will look back and see how you prioritized your family’s happiness for a few days out of the year and you will smile. When it’s all said and done, you won’t be focusing on the negatives, the chaos, and what all went wrong; you’ll realize the cornerstone of all of it was joy.
This summer, my goal is to let go of vacation and life expectations and, instead, sit back to soak up the pandemonium. Every year I say I’m going to do this and I rarely do. I find myself on edge because I’m not willing to let go of my normal routine of life for a few days. I want vacation and our revered family time to be perfect and I lose my joy in the process. I let myself get so worked up that by the time we’re back home I never want to go on a trip again.