Well we successfully completed our first family vacation. I was very hesitant about the whole experience. I know, hesitant over a vacation? Yes. The factors of a young baby (she just turned six months), traveling 10 hours to our destination, gangs of sharks hovering the Carolina Beaches (have you seen the news?), plus, did I mention we vacationed as a FAMILY? One House + Eight Adults + Seven Children (under the age of six… let me repeat, under the age of six) = One nervous Nancy of a Mommy!
- Strategically plan your travel time.
With a 10-hour drive upon us, Nathan and I had to come up with a game plan that worked best for our family. Our number one goal was to plan our travel time around Baby Lo’s sleep schedule; yet, we also had to consider not rolling into South Carolina too early for fear of hot, sweaty hours to kill before check-in.Keep in mind when packing what you may need access to. For a trip that long we knew we needed access to a cooler and Baby Lo’s diaper bag. Be sure to pack so you have easy access to any items you or the baby may need for the journey.
- Call your hotel, rental, etc ahead of time and beg and plead for an early check-in.
It did not work in our case, but my point is there may be a great opportunity there, so don’t overlook. Apparently our Rental Company LOVES every cranky road warrior chomping at the bits to get into their rental at the same exact time, because that is exactly what happened.Because this may not work in your favor, pack a small arrival bag. Ours had a change of clothes for each of us and some toiletries. We were able to change and feel a bit refreshed for our nomad state while we waited patiently for our home. A nice cool restaurant for some grub and refreshments also gives you a nice boost!
- Be proactive with baby gear and supplies.
If your vacation entails a roadtrip with lots of room for luggage and / or you know that if you forget something, it is not the end of the world because there are stores nearby, do not allow this to make you lax. We well thought out what we needed, what we could share or split among families and what we could bring from home. Exersaucer, Baby Swing, Bouncy Seats, High Chairs… yes, we took it all loaded down in a pick-up! Why, wouldn’t we? If I wasn’t us and watched us unload into our rental I would have thought these people were running a week long daycare to pay for their place.By the time we made it into our home, unloaded a truck load of stuff (true story!), we were all pretty tired. This proactive tip includes supplies and food and I was so glad I packed a box of wipes, diapers, a case of formula, etc, so I did not have to rush out to the market upon arrival. Instead, we were able to just chill! Also included… pack great beach fashion essentials. I will admit, Baby Lo’s fashion, materialistically, provided me with great entertainment. Beach hats, sunglasses and suits… she squealed as did I, both for different reasons.
Keep in mind the groceries tend to be more expensive in heavy vacation locations. You can save some money by buying supplies locally that you need and know will travel well.
- Different things will entertain you now.
Pre-baby we looked forward to looking up what live bands were playing at local hot spots, strategically planned which restaurants we would hit up for breakfast, lunch and dinner and packed our coolers and parked our butts on the beach for the long haul. Post-baby… HaHaHaHa.Hold, on, I am still laughing.
Kids have a way of putting things in perspective or maybe just exposing you to a whole new angle. Experiencing our baby dip her little toes in ocean waters for the very first time or sit her little bottom in the sand, made us giggle in joy, walking babies dressed in PJ’s in the wee hours or late evenings when the beach returned to a quiet state, was a great highlight and watching all the little cousins interact meant memories were being made.
- Beach naps are the best!
This is so true for adults and babies! There is nothing like a nice afternoon nap with the sun on your face and the waves crashing in the background. Ah, take me back now. In this case, we strategically planned our beach time around Baby Lo’s nap schedule. We would get about 30-minutes of beach time entertaining Baby Lo, walk her along the crashing waves until she fell asleep and then let her nap, in the shade, under a 10×10 pop-up and on a nice clean towel. During her naps is when we could, together (this is the ONLY time during the entire week I saw my husband. Not because he was out having fun without me somewhere. Remember we were running a daycare.) get in some beach time and work on those sun kissed tans!Pack a “mini beach diaper bag.” Mine consisted of a change of clothes (usually a romper or something lightweight), swimmies, diapers, wipes, a lightweight receiving blanket, sunscreen, baby toys and if it was close to a feeding a bottle cooler with the necessities. If Baby Lo got wet I made sure to strip her down, and place in her a clean diaper before allowing her to nap. Also, baby powder is great at getting the sand off of baby!
Parent’s note: This is when you enjoy an adult drink, or two, or three. Actually just drink as must as you can until a child wakes up! 🙂
- If you can, invest in a pool.
Seven kids under six, oh, and did I mention one pregnant sister-in-law too? The weather forecast – heat wave! Of course the weather would be hot during our week and we were under a heat advisory most days. Thank goodness we had a place with a pool. I am almost certain every kid from our imaginative six year old down to the 4 1/2 month old (yes, Baby Lo, wasn’t even the youngest one), enjoyed our pool. We spent many of hours splashing, floating, having water battles, tossing kids into the air to come down and make a splash and even quietly floating the babies around. It was wonderful!Don’t forget to pack your baby monitor! Because our pool was directly off our deck, one of us could enjoy the water or porch with the monitor while Baby Lo took a nap. Also, for the bigger kids, don’t forget to pack the pool toys!
- Don’t assume you cannot do things because you have kids.
I think sometimes parents think they cannot do things they use to do or enjoy because they have kids. Now I am speaking as a parents of one, but even Nathan and I plenty of times turn things down or immediately think, “Not going to happen!” just because we have a child. Give them the benefit of doubt sometimes. It does work and if it doesn’t what is the worse thing that can happen? Your child has a meltdown and you have to pack it up and go home. Not the first time, and won’t be the last.We, holding our breathes, broke away from the group for a dinner date and Baby Lo could not have been any better. Just prepare well with binkies, toys, bottle, diapers, etc, or whatever it takes to make baby happy!
- Remember who this vacation is for.
Many people will say, “It is all about the kids on vacation!” While, I agree, keep in mind that it is also for you. Every single person deserves what vacation is meant for… relaxation and an escape from the everyday stresses. While our crazy house was not 100% relaxing, it was still a week away from the office and a week away from emails and office calls. It was an escape. More importantly, it was a great memory for us and our children. We deserved this week. It may have been a little chaotic here and there but it was 100% worth it. I mean just look at all the smiling faces.