Once that warm weather kicks in, the question we all like to ask each other is “What are you doing this summer?” Sometimes the question comes up because we like to hear and exchange ideas about different place and great experiences; sometimes we are just curious or friendly – or just making small talk. Either way…the thought of vacation lingers in the air during this time of year. We all enjoy a great place to simply unwind, disconnect from the norm and simply exhale. That is summer time. But what does summertime vacationing look like with children – and as a family?
Family vacations are a precious time in my family (and they probably are for you too). We look forward to disconnecting from our everyday lives, and reconnecting with nature, ourselves, our soul, and with each other. We are pretty sure that our getaway holds a few special moments that will stay with us for a life time. My children remember special little glimpses from various vaca’s and enjoy talking about them and reliving them. I am in awe at how far back they can remember? I guess it’s easier to hold onto the good memories….
After parenting for close to a decade, my husband and I have come to understand the difference between vacationing as a family, and how we use to experience vacation. We’ve also acquired many little tips that allow for a smoother vacation – a more enjoyable one. Before our kids, we were world travelers. We wanted to visit almost every place in the world regardless of whether or not it was well known, and we looked forward to thoroughly exploring it! We would wake up in the morning and out the door we went for sometimes up to 18 hours. We would not return back to our hotel until we really had to. We just flowed with the day, and enjoyed every moment of spontaneity, and all the little surprises we would find. Toward the end of the trip, we would spend a day or two unwinding (if needed) and then back home we went.
That changed abruptly when our son arrived. The truth is, I had no idea how to vacation with a child. And when I tried it, the amount of stuff I (thought) I had to carry was not appealing to say the least. Car seat, tents, diapers, beach toys, stroller, carrier, etc. That was not the kind of vacation I knew to take! Was it even possible to relax? Sometimes I wondered if it was just better that we stayed home. It took a few getaways to adjust, as well as realize how important it was to simplify. By the time my daughter came around, I realized that I really only needed half of the things I used to bring with my son. Eventually, we also figured out the importance of simplifying the experience for the children as well. Which only meant that it was less complicated for all of us, and much more pleasurable. There is no exploring of a new place with babies and toddlers. At least it didn’t work for us, and even if it did, I didn’t feel that it was fair to my kids. And so we began visiting local getaways, and nearby all-inclusive resorts. This meant that we never really had to go far for anything at all, and everything was easily available. It also meant that my children were not tugged and dragged anywhere – they simply enjoyed the elements of water, wind, sun, sand and nothing more. We enjoyed our naps and meals at the beach, under an umbrella or tree; we never really had anywhere to go, other than to soak up the experience of being together, being in nature and exploring what comes from that space.
What came from there was bonding, fun, relaxation, unwinding, and many silly unforgettable stories to tell. We had grown to understand the meaning of “getting away”. We would disconnect as much as possible from life back home and stay attuned to our togetherness. Somehow, the days seemed to grow longer, our vacation time seemed to extend, and in many ways, we gained the full value of family time and vacation.
We noticed our children simply stay outdoors all day – where I believe they belong. They stroll along the beach and collect many natural treasures, they play with the sand, the water, the waves, new friends, games, and anything else they creatively come up with. We go for long walks along the beach during the day and night, and catch up (or clear up) whatever hasn’t been shared or was lost somehow by the daily race. We ponder, we read, we play together. At times, we get lost by ourselves if the opportunity arises, and that can be such an amazing treat. We meditate, exercise and much, much more. There really is an unlimited amount of nourishing and rejuvenating things you can do.
The key is…SIMPLICITY.
The less you have planned, the more refreshing and rejuvenating your vacation will be. The greater the guarantee that your time and will money will be well spent. The greater the guarantee that your children will not be exhausted, over stimulated, and whining – and resentment will not begin to brew. The more accepting you are that this is what family vacationing can be, the greater chance you have of enjoying your time together as a family, and absorbing all that the vacation can afford you.
On my weekly tips tab, I have added a little list of useful items to bring with you on your vacation for different age groups. I also mention several kid friendly BnB’s and Inns that are child proof, toys included, with cribs and playpens, games, outdoor playgrounds, as well as many other great offerings that cater to families and children of all ages. If you can travel somewhere, and most of the things you would want to bring are already available (and then some), it would make traveling much easier and convenient. These places make this possible. And if your resort is not on the kid friendly list, I suggest you call ahead and ask what they do have. We found many resorts already have cribs, fridge, buckets, shovels, books, floaties, board games, and much more than we expected.
When traveling as a family, you have a lot to remember and things to check off your list, but in the end, the most important thing to keep in mind is the reason why you have chosen to go on vacation in the first place. To relax, to unwind, to get away and to align yourself with what is most important to you.
So sit back, breathe in that fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and soak up all the sun and love that can come with a nurturing family vacation.
If you have any helpful suggestions, tips and ideas for a fulfilling family vacation, please share! And make sure to check out all the Family Friendly Hotels/Inns/BnB’s in my Weekly Tips Tab.
Happy Travels 🙂