Family vacations are a great idea. In theory.

Spring break vacations have begun all over the United States; and for many families, especially those looking to escape the cold, they’ll be venturing to somewhere fabulous to maybe enjoy the sunshine, sleep in late, nosh on seafood, relax with a good book or cool off in the ocean. Most importantly, they’ll be nurturing their relationships with one another whilst spending loads of quality time together.


"2 Year old Rebellion" by MOs810 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“2 Year old Rebellion” by MOs810 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


Or not.


Family vacations call to mind the above mentioned, but in reality, the scenario plays out a little something like this:


  • Parents plan a beach vacation. They work too much overtime each week and because of that, had little time to actually plan said vacation and ended up booking a condo at the last-minute, spending more than they’d hoped to.


  • In an effort to save money on flights, family decides to drive their mini van through seven states. No problem, Mom and Dad will take turns driving while the other sleeps. Except that neither of them ever does sleep because, “he won’t stop hitting me” and “she touched me” and “I’m hungry” and “I have to pee, again” and “I don’t wanna share a room with her” and “how many more hours” and “why couldn’t we go to Disney World?”


  • After checking in to their condo, offspring spend 1.5 seconds, give or take .2 to destroy everything in sight.Parents think it probably “was” a nice looking place before they unlocked the door.


  • Before parents have a chance to unload anything from the mini van,offspring have already changed into swimwear, bedecked with goggles and snorkel, and are begging, in a decibel heard by all surrounding counties, to please, please, please, please, please take them to the pool.


  • Already exhausted parents unload mini van, and through a process of “please God I will do anything if you will just take them to the pool”, one parent takes offspring to the pool. Offspring, well rested from sleeping through most of the road trip, have enough energy to swim, jump, run and scream for several hours.Supervising parent is prying eyeballs open to stay awake just enough to make sure offspring are still alive. 


  • Other parent runs to local grocery store to stock up on provisions for the week.All intentions to make healthy, nutritious food now forgotten, grocery cart is loaded with easy, quick, alcohol, god-help-me-I-need-sleep and “we’re going out for dinner”…


  • First morning of vacation,the much-anticipated “sleeping in” commences with absolutely no sleeping in whatsoever, as offspring are too delighted about the prospect of getting out to the beach or pool again, and wake sleep deprived parents and every other human within a 1,200 mile radius. Again, already dressed in swimwear, and having miraculously figured out how to feed themselves, something they have never been able to in the morning before school.


  • Parents drag every blow-up floating apparatus known to man, sunblock, towels, chairs, coolers, hats, goggles, snorkels, boogie boards, umbrellas and snacks down to the beach.Finally, they can relax, grab a beer and read a book. Nope – time to be the “shark” please, please, please, please, please (and who can resist their sweet faces? You can bet you’re going to be the shark…).


By Donald Riesbeck Jr [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Donald Riesbeck Jr [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • 20 minutes in (if you’re lucky) someone“threw sand at me”, “stole my shovel”, “won’t play with me”, “wants to play with me”, and “I’m hungry”, “I need to pee”, “it’s too hot”, “I want to go to the pool now” begins. And so plays on for the rest of the day…and every day remaining.


  • Youngest offspring is scared to sleep in a strange new place, wiggles his way between you and your spouse.So much for the long overdue “connecting” you were looking forward to.


  • The feeling you have when you collapse into the bed in your condo at the end of every day feels strangely familiar. Oh yeah, it’s how you feel every other non-vacation day of your life! 


  • At the end of the week, parents drive a now sand-strewn mini-van back through seven states with tired, sun-drenched, crabby offspring, this time actually taking turns, but again still trying to use the “I will literally do anything if you will let me sleep” negotiation tactics.


  • Finally home,parents wonder when/if they will ever return from a vacation feeling like they’ve been on vacation.

Somehow, through the exhaustion, whining, sandy everything and sunburned skin, it’s still worth it.


If you’re going on a family vacation with little ones this Spring Break, I sincerely hope you have a delightful trip, and retain your sanity. If you are staying close to home, I hope you’re able to find restorative time for yourself and your family.



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