It’s no secret that vacationing with kids is actually no vacation at all. You have to pack all of their precious belongings, and well, they’re even more work while traveling. You’re basically just parenting in a foreign place, which simply makes it more stressful all together. But after traveling (or at least attempting to) with kids for seven years now, I think I’ve finally nailed how to do it successfully.
You see, as parents, we do our best to keep our children content. I mean, if we make their lives easier, then ours become easier, too — right? Most kids, for example, live their life more at ease if they stick to their routine. So, as moms, we try to mimic this routine even while on vacation. Only, this is tough business because there is so much to think about. What they eat, what time they eat, how they sleep, when they sleep, bath time, books, what they wear, and more are all things that mothers think about before they even start packing for their trip. All of this is mind-numbing. So, the one hack I do to ensure travel is a breeze is that I choose one thing to stick to with their usual routine — and chill out about the rest.
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For me, it’s important that my children get good rest — even on vacation. I’m that mom and I don’t care. Family and friends alike joke about my strictness on this, but it’s something I always try to adhere to. We all know that just because we put our kids to bed later, sure as hell doesn’t mean that they’ll sleep in later. Actually, I’ve found that it often means the opposite, which always results in awful behavior. So, while on vacation, I do my best to put my kids down for a nap and bedtime around their regular (and early) bedtimes. I’m not always a fan favorite because I’m strict about this one thing, but I make sure I’m consistent.
So, when we travel with family or friends, they don’t like that my kids still have to go to bed early. But I remind them that they won’t be the ones getting up with my cranky kids in the morning, so, they learn to deal with it. I make sure that we go out to eat early enough so that my kids can hit the hay at their 7:30 bedtimes. And if they want to go to the zoo the following day, it’ll have to be before or after their mid-day snooze because skipping a nap is just something that I’m not willing to gamble with. Moms, this plan works just fine. It works because I’m consistent with this schedule, so my kids know what to expect. They don’t fight bedtime because it’s the same routine that we follow at home. So, before heading on your next family vacation, choose what’s most important to you.
Maybe you really feel strongly about your children’s diet. You want them to continue to eat healthy even while traveling. Well, you can pack them all of the organic food your heart desires or do your grocery shopping once you get to your vacation hot spot. And because this is your one thing you want to stick to, maybe you’ll let them stay up late swimming in the pool. For me, because I’m so strict on their sleep schedule, I let the kids eat “vacation junk food” as my kids call it.
Just last week, we headed to a cottage in Michigan and every single day after nap time, the kids got out their chosen chip bag (something we never buy at home) and a popsicle. They sat on the dock of the lake licking their popsicles and shoving chips in their mouths. And after dinner each
night, they had a gooey s’more around the bonfire, too. I had to let it go, and boy did it feel good. See, we don’t indulge like that at home, and sticking to our eating routine isn’t as important to me as sleep is, so I bend the rules. Because vacation is meant to be a little more fun, isn’t it?
On your next vacation, try sticking to one part of your children’s routine that is most important to you. And even though I know it can be hard—let the rest slide. Because remember, this vacation is for you too, Mom. If you’re worrying about every little detail and part of your children’s schedule, well, you’re not leaving much room for you to chill too. And while vacationing with kids is often a lot of work, remember to try to leave some wiggle room for you to just unwind and watch your children create some true childhood memori