Surviving Summer: Vacation

Want to know what word needs to be scrubbed from the vocabulary of every American?

“vacay”

I question how one can say that word without:

 

A. Assuming they are being filmed for a reality show that involves either housewives or bachelors

or

B. living under the assumption that they are fifteen years old

 

The husband and I attempted years ago to bring the term “holiday” into the spotlight here in the good ol USA as people refer to their vacations. No one really picked up on it so it remains more of a European term rather than an American one. We still have high hopes for the word though, wishing fervently that it would gain (and surpass) the popularity of “vacay.”

Speaking of vacation, we recently went on one with our family.

We packed up the family station wagon and set our sights on the beach. We live in a state that is home to (part of) the gulf, so beach-going is not terribly difficult for us. The grandparents just happened to be vacationing in our fine state and we are not ones to turn down a vacation with them.

Especially a vacation that involves two other adults to help with the entertaining of the children.

Our vacation went swimmingly. The children loved the ocean. Our accommodations were wonderful for a group of six. I drank coffee on a balcony overlooking the bay every morning, while chatting with my mom and reading. We dined on seafood every night.

Here are a few summer vacation tips from our family to yours:

 

1. Plan…but do not over plan.

 

Our schedule for the week looked a bit like this: Get up. Eat a lazy breakfast. Go to the beach. Return home for lunch. Nap. Get dressed. Go out for dinner and fun. Return home for ice cream.

We had a plan but we were not running from activity to activity. There are some vacations where the husband and I attempt to fill every moment (NYC in the fall). However, kids (and parents) need some downtime. Allow for rest and relaxation. No one is having fun when the little people are crying and the big people are frustrated because so much “Fun” was crammed into one day.

 

2. Set expectations.

On this particular vacation, our children slept on air mattresses. Although we were in a very large condo, there were only two King-sized beds. The children each had their own air mattress. Before we left, I let them know exactly what their sleeping arrangements would be. They brought some special bedding and a fun stuffed animal. When we arrived at our destination, they helped choose the location for their air mattress and help set up their own little space. Doing all this set their expectations about where they would be sleeping (essentially on the floor). Because of this advance preparation, we had no sleep issues all week. When kids know what to expect, they are better able to acclimate to their new surroundings.

 

3. Pack accordingly.

 

My favorite packing tip for kids is to put their whole outfit (shorts, shirt, underwear, socks, bow) in a large ziploc bag and label the bag. This allows the child to know exactly what they need to wear each day and how to find it without assistance. At the end of the day, all the dirty clothes can be put back in the bag and repacked.

We also had each of the kids pack an “entertainment” bag. This one is filled with coloring books, reading books, small toys and other fun trinkets. This is the bag that entertains them in the car as well as at the hotel.

 

4. Avoid assumptions.

Sometimes when vacationing with kids, we assume we can only do “kid things.” Give kiddos more credit than that and plan to do some things on vacation that are interesting to adults as well. We had a museum day where we visited three museums. Visiting museums is a pretty common activity for our kiddos. However, one of these museums had the “Bodies Revealed” show on display. Originally I thought it might be too much for our kids. What 6 and 5 year old really want to look at dissected bodies on vacation?

Apparently, ours.

They enjoyed the exhibit much more than I felt like they might. I do have to say that both of them thought that the bodies were fake and never realized they were actual people. Evelyn was fascinated by the the “smoker’s lung” while Isaac walked around independently reading about the various body parts/systems (We learned a lot of anatomy this past year in school, which is likely why it was all very interesting to him.). Do not assume one can only do kid-friendly things on vacation. Have your whole family step out of the box and try something a bit new or different.

 

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