For the past two weeks, I have had the luxury of being on vacation. My husband and I rented a house in Cape Cod, and have been enjoying sunny days, cool nights, and long afternoons at the beach with our infant and toddler.
For me, these are the dreams I always had for a family vacation – quality time together, good weather, good food, no stress. Some of these visions have come to fruition. These extended vacations definitely involve quality time. We’ve been blessed with great weather and fresh seafood. But the stress? Unfortunately a stress-free day is pretty much non-existent with two young children, no matter where you are. In fact, being out of your usual element and routine can mean that vacations can actually be more stressful than summer days at home.
After taking these long vacations for a few years, I have learned (the hard way) how to make things a little bit easier. Here are my top 5 tips for you and your family to make your summer holidays a little more relaxing:
1) Bring DVDs. Lots of them.
I have to admit that I am generally one of those Type A parents that doesn’t like my kids to watch too much TV. I try to impose limits on each day (aka, two episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba, or 45 minutse of Nick Jr.). But on vacation, I relax this rule. It’s just easier on everyone. A house or hotel is never babyproofed, so it means you can keep your kids entertained and sitting instead of opening cabinets and turning on sinks. Further, you can only pack so many toys. When the limited toy options get old, pop on Toy Story. The extra TV won’t fry their brains (though I make no promises!)
2) Bring all of the kids’ clothes. That’s right, all of them.
I used to go through each child’s closet meticulously in preparation for vacation. I’d pack a couple of outfits a day, some jackets, extra shoes, etc. Without fail, there was always something I didn’t bring that I ended up needing, like rain boots, or an extra sweater for when my toddler spills grape juice all over his jacket. There’s something about vacation that causes your children to soil clothing at a much quicker rate. So do yourself a favor, and save yourself the packing stress – just bring it all.
3) For toys, quality is more important than quantity.
I used to try to stuff as many toys as possible into a large suitcase, until my husband put his foot down. He was right. The kids’ didn’t play with half of the toys anyway! Now, I use a small duffle, and try to bring activity based toys. The Real Tooth Fairies award-winning books would be a great vacation activity. Girls are captivated by the detailed illustrations of their fairy friends having adventures in Real Fairyland – with character building content as well. For more information on these positive-value based stories that entertain your girl over and over again, click [HERE].
4) Invite the grandparents.
I’m the first to admit that being in a small space with the most wonderful of parents and in-laws can get a little crazy at times. But the happy chaos makes for great memories – and grandparents love to babysit. They are able and willing and love the bonding time with their grandchildren when parents are out. And it means that my husband and I can take a much needed break during the day or (gasp) actually go someplace at night!
5) Put up your feet and let go.
Even with all the preparation in the world, a family trip with small children is not going to be the relaxing honeymoon you once had. So do your best to have fun, get through the day, and let go of all the must-do’s of your regular routine. Enjoy some alone time with your husband once the kids go to bed. After all, you’re on vacation!