A few months ago, we went on a family vacation for the first time in three years. And since then, we have had the opportunity to go on a kid-free trip to New York. So when my husband’s best friend gave us two months’ notice for his wedding in France, I figured due to time and cost, we’d be sending my husband alone. My parents had already agreed to watch the kids for our trip to New York only three weeks earlier, so I was confident that even if I could take the time off work, we wouldn’t have a plan for the kids. But my incredible parents agreed and we were able to buy my flight with frequent flyer miles, so off we went for a very quick trip to France.
I am never away from my kids. I mean, you know, except for 40-50 hours a week while I’m at work. But like, never away away. In the 16 months my son has been alive, I have literally not been away one night from him. Not one night. And my daughter just turned four. In total, I have been away from her four nights. But only one night at a time. Combine these with the fact that my husband regularly travels for work plus some travel for pleasure, and I have been totally overdue for a trip away.
It took A. LOT. for me to ask my parents to watch the kids for us while we went on vacation. My parents are helpful, but they’re busy. They have lives. My kids are little. They need a lot of supervision and attention. And to be honest, that is kind of a pain in the ass. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help in the first place, but it was torture for me to ask for someone to parent for four whole days. But I am so glad I asked. We needed this trip so badly.
I used to travel. Not like wanderlust world traveler kind of travel, but a reasonable amount. I’ve seen my fair share of places, though I have many on my list left to visit. But you know, you have kids, and you work full time. And it takes planning. And it costs money. And, let’s be honest, is it really even fun to travel with kids? We did do a bit of traveling–both domestic and international–with our first. But we added another kid to the mix and all travel came to a halt. We finally–FINALLY–planned and booked a vacation to Mexico, which we took last month. And it was so wonderful. I mean, it wasn’t leave-your-kids-and-spend-a-week-sipping-cocktails-on-the-beach wonderful, but it was better than I expected.
Full disclosure: the best part of this trip was that my parents and my brother, sister-in-law and niece were on this trip. Yeah, yeah. It was nice to spend time with them. But the absolutely BEST part was a ratio of six adults to three kids. Glorious.
Traveling with kids. Some people love it. Some people think it’s torture. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. When we had my daughter, we continued to travel without hesitation. R was on her first flight at four months old, and she was on a total of 14 flights in her first 14 months of life, including two international trips. Once we had D, all traveling came to a halt. Part of it was circumstantial due to work schedules, but much of it was my own trepidation of traveling with two children. Determined not to be home bound for the next few years, I opted to face my fears and book some travel. Whereas I used to have a You-Can’t-Be-Too-Prepared attitude about traveling with kids, I now realize that unless I’m planning a trip to a remote locale, even with kids, less is definitely still more.
Let me be real with you guys. In theory, I envision myself on vacation in some sexy new bikini with my hair perfectly “beach-waved” under an adorable Panama hat with glowing skin and perfectly poised for an Instagram-worthy photo op. In reality, my vacations (the last real one I took was three years ago) are an opportunity for me not to have to wear makeup for a week, pull out the eight-year-old bikini that I haven’t worn for two summers, and slather my pale-ass skin in SPF 50 every 30 minutes so I don’t burn to a crisp. And those sunset photos where I’m casually laughing on the beach with my family? They look more like me running after my toddler who got naked because she didn’t like the sand in her butt, a baby crying because his sister knocked over his pile of sand, and a husband catching up on emails because there’s no such thing as a real vacation from work. It’s not a pretty picture.”