According to Dictionary.com, the definition of the word ‘vacation’ is as follows: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel. Let’s break this down people.
Traveling with kids definitely does not fit into this description! Start with the packing and the preparation needed for a family vacation. It is literally a full time job and takes a ton of organization, lists and experience. Let’s not forget the traveling part with your sweet kiddies…not so sweet. When you finally arrive at your vacation with your family, there is little resting or suspending of motherly duties as far as I am concerned.
Hence, the vacation sans children, which sounds a lot more like the definition above! In fact, as I write this, I am looking out onto my veranda listening to the birds chirping, the water flowing and soaking in every last second of my last day in paradise.
I have come to the conclusion that there are six stages to vacationing without kids.
This is the day you say your goodbyes and leave your creatures behind, either with a relative, friend or caregiver. Once en route, you take a deep breath, in shock that you actually made it out the door.
You get to the airport and you feel like you are missing a part of you. There is of course excitement but sadness at same time. You go through a list of items in your head to make sure you prepared everything for the kids while away. So far, it’s check, check, check…and then you realize you forgot to pack some of your essentials because you were so wrapped up on those you were leaving behind. ARGH. Who needs underwear anyway?
You don’t worry though, because no one is calling your name a hundred times, pulling your clothes, and needing something. Now you start to get ecstatic and a smile crosses your face, knowing the relaxing days that lie ahead. Woo hoo!
Your delight soon turns to sorrow when you see a cute baby at the airport and you start feeling guilty about missing your kid’s soccer game and the performance at the school they worked so hard to master. Then the baby cries and you quickly snap out of your trance and get back on track to vacation mode. Phew, that was close.
You have arrived at your destination and are feeling tranquil and allow yourself to finally relax. As you unpack your belongings and get ready for the beach, you promise you will disconnect with the world…after this one text to your caregiver to ensure the day is running smoothly without you. You ask about school, activities, eating and behavior, but what you really want to know is, “do they miss me”?
You get your answers but decide to bring your phone with you to the beach in case someone back home does needs you. In other words, in case you need them. You yell at yourself in your head to stop this nonsense, proceed to lather yourself in sunscreen and order a delicious cocktail.
You notice a strange sound, which is very unfamiliar, known as silence. This quietness you have been craving for so long is actually hurting your ears and is something you need to adjust to.
You have settled in on your vacation and feel peaceful. Thoughts of what flavor yogurt you should choose for your kid’s lunch boxes have been replaced with considerations of beach or pool, beer or a pina colada, and afternoon nap on lounge chair or in your room. You could get used to this!
One of your priorities on your trip is to sleep in, whatever that means. Your eyes open and the clock says 6:15AM. Really? You are annoyed at how early it is but enjoy lying around not having to endure the morning school rush routine. Soon (five minutes later), you are bored and don’t know what to do with yourself.
Every day, you sleep later and later, and by later, I mean increments of fifteen minutes. By the last day, the clock says 7:15AM, which is very exciting and pathetic at the same time.
You are able to read a book without anyone bothering you, which is something very foreign to you. Book? What’s that? You think of the kids back home less and less, until you meet a couple at the pool who asks you if you miss them. Curses on them! Your response should be, “yes, I can’t wait to see them”, but by this time you have forgotten there names and don’t actually recall having any children…that is until you receive a text reminding you that you did in fact give birth multiple times. Soon you are gliding through pictures you have on your phone and wonder what the kids are doing.
At this point, you are well into your vacation and have gotten into a routine of not having a routine, which feels amazing. There are actually times you start feeling a little bored lying around but then quickly slap yourself and tell your brain never to question that feeling again…ever!
Unfortunately, it is time to head home soon of course. You realize you spent the majority of your vacation thinking about being on vacation and needing to relax instead of actually relaxing, similar to what happens when getting a massage. Even so, it was a much needed break that was truly fantastic.
You had room service and ate your breakfast on your fabulous waterfront deck this morning, savoring every bite without someone asking you to get them something for them. You create a fantasy in your head about never returning home and wonder if the kids would be upset. You come back to reality by the sound of a text coming in that your son scored the winning goal for his soccer game. (I think texting should be banned!) You feel both pride and a lot a bit of guilt, and know the time has come to return home.
“One more day” becomes your mantra and as you walk around the resort, you can see this statement written on the foreheads of all the parents vacating without kids. You have had such an amazing time and the break from the everyday grind was glorious. (Don’t you just love that word?) You have been telling yourself every day to appreciate the time alone but what you don’t realize is that the appreciation part comes later on.
You think back to the day you arrived to this magical place and noticed the folks who were dragging their luggage, ready to head home. You thought to yourself, “see yah…now it’s my turn bitches!”. Okay, perhaps it was more like, “that sucks…but not for me”. All jokes aside, it was really like “before I know it, that is going to be me so I better enjoy every second…see yah…oh and say hi to the kids for me”. How about we just settle for a combination of all three.
Now, which seems like a second later, that is you, and now you are looking at those people arriving knowing what they are thinking. Who’s the loser now? You think of the hugs that are soon to come, and you smile, but quickly remember to soak up the quiet and ease of traveling sans kids, which is actually a huge part of your vacation.
You buy nice presents, (a.k.a. airport presents), for the kids, costing as much as your airline ticket, which will for sure be broken or lost within five minutes of receiving them. You took the beach bag from the room for yourself, which you thought was a free parting gift, only to find out later that it was not, meaning you stole it. Oops. The $10,000 charge on your credit card will remind you of this mishap when you receive your statement next month.
Your depression of leaving has lessened as you take your seat on the plane. You doze off, which is just one of many luxuries of traveling without your little devils, I mean sweetie pies. Your rest is short lived when the stewardess bashes your leg with the drink cart, scaring the crap out of you and waking you up from your precious nap, which was actually only ten seconds long. You are convinced it was done on purpose to remind you that you are going home to chaos where rest and relaxation does not exist. Hello reality…it is (not) nice to see you.
On the way home from the airport, the concept of the warm sand on your feet, that delicious cocktail in your hand, a shower by yourself, no laundry, cooking or cleaning to do and someone attending to your every need, becomes a distant memory. You are super excited to see your kids, assuming they are still breathing, which was your most important requests of whomever was watching them. Fingers crossed.
You pull up to your house and everyone runs out to hug you and welcome you home. (Oh good, they are alive.) You are all smiling and happy to be reunited and you think to yourself, “ahhh, life is good”… until your three year old wipes his orange stained cheesy puff fingers on your white shirt, your six year old jumps on you and elbows you in the eye and your eight year old lets you know he didn’t miss you at all. Really?
All you hear is, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…..” and you look at your husband and in your head, jump right back into the cab and head to the airport, hoping your room key still works once you arrive and the current occupants are packing up!
This is when the appreciation kicks in and you miss the quiet. There is no easing back into things. It is game on the second you walk in the door. Everyone is asking about your trip and wants details but you want/need to keep some of it a secret so you can go to your happy place when life gets hectic, which would be now and pretty much every day.
After a day filled with lots of kisses and catching up with the kids, you are exhausted. You spend extra time cuddling with your gang though, reacquainting yourself with their sounds and smells, when your eight year old suddenly fills the room with a sound and smell so rancid, you are forced to evacuate.
When all the kids are finally asleep, the first thing you do is go online to book your next vacation…sans kids.
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!®