Needing a Vacation from Your Vacation

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Who doesn’t love summer? Traveling, warm weather, ample sunshine. And family vacations! But all seasoned moms know, you are going to need a vacation from your vacation.

Who doesn’t enjoy loading up the car with every conceivable gadget and piece of equipment because who knows what you will need when traveling with kids? You forgot the charger for the iPad, but no bother. Your kids won’t need it, right?

Time to get out and start checking things off the itinerary! Kid A is screaming at the top of their lungs. Kid B is hungry. If you have more than that, the others don’t want to be there or are upset due to sibling behavior. Smile for the camera (stop making that face, I don’t care that your sibling is too close to you)! We need to make sure we have a great picture for social media! Such happy memories!

Dinner time – do you cook or eat out? Let’s make burgers on the grill, but where did the homeowners leave it? By the way, two hours later, you’ll be at the only restaurant still open in town because you can’t find it, and everyone will be hangry. At least you have that lovely deck back at the rental. Maybe you’ll sit out and enjoy the stars after the kids settle down. Or perhaps you’ll start that great summer read you’ve been looking forward to.

You get back to the rental, and by the time you get the kids settled, you are so tired you fall asleep.

Okay, the first day didn’t go as planned, but tomorrow you have your favorite outdoor activity planned. Of course, it unexpectedly rains. The kids can watch their iPads instead. But you forgot the charger, remember?! At least the nearest big box store is only an hour away! 

The next day you finally have some sun. Time to take the kids out and make up for the last couple of days. This time, it is fun. But running around is exhausting, managing your family’s expectations and ensuring everyone is accommodated. The day flies, and you feel you didn’t get to be present for much of it. But at least you can go to bed satisfied everyone enjoyed themselves.

The second half of the week isn’t much different (because, believe it or not, after the first three days, you are already 50% done with that week-long vacation). Half the things on the itinerary don’t get done. The other half are fun but require every ounce of your energy to ensure your family enjoys themselves, leaving nothing for you. When you settle into a routine, it is time to head home.

After being asked, “Are we there yet” too many times to count, you are finally home! Now for 2-weeks’ worth of laundry and putting things away. It didn’t take this long to pack, did it? Why did you bring all this stuff? You didn’t use half of it. You’ll have to remember next time (heads up… you absolutely won’t remember this next time).

Okay, so what preceded was a bit dramatized (maybe). However, every parent on vacation with their children likely recognizes something familiar. Between trying to manage parenting outside of your comfort zone and without your normal resources, trying to ensure everyone has fun, and being the designated cruise director (so to speak), is it any wonder vacations aren’t relaxing for parents?! No wonder we all say that we need a vacation from our vacation!

But before you feel bad for thinking that, remember this; it is possible, and absolutely okay, to be simultaneously overwhelmed by a disruption in your routine and grateful you have the opportunity to go on vacation with your family.

It is okay to recognize moments of joy while also wishing you could enjoy more of them and longing for the ability to relish them more thoroughly. Acknowledging the hard doesn’t negate the happiness. And saying you need a vacation from your vacation doesn’t erase the memories made from the vacation you had. 

Here’s hoping all you fellow parents get a real vacation sometime soon!

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Erin is the mother of one sweet, rambunctious toddler and wife to a talented chef. Professionally, she is a former special educator and preschool teacher, and is currently a cognitive neuroscience researcher and Ph.D candidate in Cognitive Science in Education with specializations in neuroscience, cognitive development, and neurodiversity/autism. She holds masters degrees in cognitive science, and neuroscience in education, from Teachers College, Columbia University, and undergraduate degrees in special education (with an additional concentration in elementary education and a minor in English) and early childhood education. As the wife of a chef, food is a huge part of her family culture, and she enjoy both cooking and baking. Some of her other hobbies include hiking, traveling, jogging, meditation, animal rescue, playing piano and guitar, crafting, reading, and of course, writing. You can follow her parenting journey and pick up tips on great kids activities here on Westchester Moms Blog, as well as her website (www.themindfullyscientificmama.com), Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts.

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