On Saturday morning, before the sun has even thought about peeking up over the horizon, we will carefully lift two sleeping littles from their beds. We will nestle them into carseats with blankets and lovies and we will pray that they stay in sweet, peaceful dreamland. We will settle ourselves into the front seat, with thermoses of coffee, quietly communicating with barely a whisper, in that way of car rides with sleeping children. It becomes easier the more you do it. We’ve done it a lot. But we’re rusty.
We will drive until the darkness lifts. We will drive as the sun rises. And then we will drive some more.
And we will keep holding our breath for fear of waking the baby.
And if he wakes or if he never falls back to sleep or if he screams for more than half the journey, or if she whines or complains or repeatedly wonders aloud if we’re there yet, I will just keep repeating, “When we get there, we’ll be there.”
There. On vacation. At the beach with a set of grandparents and two aunts and two uncles who can’t wait to play in the pool and build sand castles and eat ice cream.
We’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. I am terrible at that token parent move of not telling the kids about a vacation or where we’re going until we’re nearly there. Our girl has known about this trip since we booked it months ago. We’ve gone over the agenda dozens of times. Playing in the pool, kites and sandcastles on the beach. She has asked me several times if I will hold her in the ocean. Of course, my love. Always. We agree that daddy will hold the baby.
Last week, friends and I talked of how vacationing with kids is not really vacation as we used to define it. It’s more a change in location. Parenting is still parenting no matter where you are. Babies don’t sleep in because we’re on vacation. Kids don’t don wings and a halo just because this time is special. The same rules apply.
Even when you are trying to make magic, you still have to follow the rules.
But I’m trying to remember that there are memories to be made at the coast. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve aunts and uncles and cousins piled into the same house near the sand. My children need those stories too.
And I’m working myself into a yes-mode. Yes, you can have ice cream every night. Yes you can go swimming at 7am. Yes you can stay in the pool for just a bit longer. Some moments are just made for more yes.
We have lots to do and even more to pack and miles and miles to go. But when we get there, we’ll be there.
How do you prepare for a vacation with children?
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