This week, as I've frantically run around preparing for our annual summer vacation, I've been doing a lot of reminiscing. Reminiscing about the first vacation that I planned of my step-motherhood career. The vacation that even though I thought I had planned down to a tee, left me feeling disappointed and unappreciated.
Our menu was fabulous, I made sure the kids had all of their favourite treats, I brought fun and exciting activities for the rainy days, and had every detail planned out.
I was sure our first vacation together as this "family unit" was going to be one for the books.
In retrospect, it was. It was a freaking fabulous time.
Knowing what I know now about vacations with kids, it was actually pretty damn close to perfect.
However, my headspace then was very different than it is now.
- The 4 turned 5 1/2 hour car ride was tense - with anxious and bored kids and a stepmom who wasn't used to driving with three little people.
- There was crap everywhere... I felt like my husband and were constantly nagging them to clean up after themselves
- I felt like I was always working. From preparing and cleaning up breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, I felt like I was a servant, not someone who had just taken a week of work to relax
- I felt like the kids were extra needy. Always wanting to move on to the next activity, never giving my husband and I time to just sit down and relax.
- Most of all, I felt unappreciated, like the kids didn't understand how much time and energy I had put into this week away.
In fact, over the past few months I've received several emails from fellow Stepmoms spiralling because they felt the exact same way after their summer vacation with their stepchildren..
Five summers later I'll tell you this.... All of the above is true when you're on vacation with kids. It's spot freaking on!
Long car rides can be brutal.
Kids seem to lose all memory of the rules at home
If you're in a small space, there will be stuff EVERYWHERE...
It is A LOT of work... from the prep to looking after everyone while your there, like my friends Cat and Nat say, it's not so much a vacation as it is a "relocation"
Behaviours that you have at home will most likely follow.
In fact, they will probably be worse because of the sugar highs and lack of sleep.
The kids will NOT understand how much work you put into the week away, until years down the road when they become parents themselves.
You will not go home feeling refreshed. You will go home feeling TIRED... with a butt load of laundry to do!
Vacations with kids can be a lot. A LOT, A LOT.
The key to still having a great time? Manage your expectations. Throw the idea of a "perfect week" out the window, and live for the "perfect moments". Accept that all the the above in inevitable and decide that you're going to have a blast anyways - because amongst the work, and the hyper-ness and the chaos, there will be plenty picture perfect moments! You just have to be in the headspace to see them!