Welp, we did it! We survived our very first out-of-state non-road-trip vacation. We spent 8 wonderful days in sunny California. It was an epic adventure to say the least. And it’s only fair since I shared my tips before the vacation, that I share the lessons and reflections after the vacation.
1. Eight days is TOO DAMN LONG traveling with a three-year-old. This is the one thing that the entire family can agree on. Sorry, not sorry, Stinker, but you were an extra handful. Everything that he is on a normal day, just multiply that by five on vacation. Extra needy. Extra fussy. Extra attitude. Just plain extra. And what’s funny about this… the same can be said for the other side of the scale. Extra excited. Extra playful. Extra photogenic. Regardless, eight days is too long. Period.
2. Going forward, grandparents are required for every family vacation. Listen, I am not sure how to truly express my gratitude to G-Daddy and Nannie for (a) providing my kids with this opportunity and (b) for sticking it out with all of us. While they have mastered the art of overruling parental opinions, they keep the “we are on vacation” spirit alive! In my world full of “no”, they have an infinite number of “yes” which also equates to “my kids are super spoiled”.
3. The Hubs and I should have planned a date night, even while on vacation. I didn’t consider this previously, but I think that a little alone time would have done us both some good. We spent most of the trip going from various locations and tourist attractions, chasing kids, searching for drugstores to settle tummies and clear allergies, etc. While we had a little down time, we didn’t have us time. It is still important no matter where in the world we are.
4. Prayer works and therapy works too. This has more to do with me and my approach to life than it does anyone else.
5. During this trip, Nannie gave me a few compliments regarding my mothering. While I appreciate her sentiments, I have to admit I don’t see what she sees. (I even told her, I am sure that I will appreciate your words more later in life.) But the present day lesson is that whether I could see it or not, I needed to hear it. Often times I think that I only get this Mom thing half right. Even for that “right” half, I still have to think about it twice. I really appreciate the encouragement, and I aim to be as encouraging to other Moms.
6. Parents, I know you know this, but there is NO rule book on how to be a good parent. You use the tools you have been given and the experiences you’ve had combined with the current day environment, and you do the best you can. There will be days that are hard, frustrating, confusing, and downright embarrassing, but this too will pass. That one situation or event or day is not the definition of who you are as a parent. Just vow to improve, and take one day at a time.
7. Teaching my kids the value of money is going to take a lot more work than I thought. I was preparing them for the trip by reminding them to save and giving them opportunities to earn money. I told them to be more thoughtful about their purchases. However, all of that did not change the moments of entitlement, ungratefulness, or downright spoiled brat behavior that I witnessed on vacation. I snatched a few arms and popped a couple of legs in these eight days behind that foolishness. Jesus saved all of their lives. (He saved Stinker’s on more than one occasion. Refer to #1)
8. I learned a few things about my kids that I didn’t know already.
– The Diva doesn’t know how to blow bubbles with bubblegum. We spent most of the trip working on it. She is determined to get it.
– Miss Double Digits and Stinker fight more than I thought. They fight like cats and dogs! It actually surprised me. They both say the other is being mean, and my Mommy-gut tells me they are both right.
– Stinker loves to swim… in a swimming pool. He is scared of the beach. We have gone to the beach several times before, and we thought it was just because of his age. But this time he actually said the beach scares him. Not sure what to do or make of it since we will be going again.
9. My anxiety about flying has not changed in 20 years. Unfortunately, I still haven’t found a routine that helps me be at peace, and I have flown what I feel to be a considerable amount of the last two decades, but my anxiety is always there. And yes, I am one of those annoying people who claps when the plane lands. Why? Because it is my outward expression of the joy I feel that God allowed this pilot to safely land this steel bird! (Side note: I don’t clap much anymore due to the awkward glances my joy created. However, I most certainly am doing it in my mind.) Anyways, I’m open to suggestions on how to better cope with my flight anxiety.
10. Taking a family vacation is absolutely worth it! I know that it takes real work and planning to get everyone on one page and in one place. I know there are a lot of personalities to manage. I know that traveling can be hectic and exhausting. But it is also what creates the memories! And that’s the goal – to create more memories. So let’s get packing!