You’ve worked hard all year, you’ve booked your vacation time, and you’ve got a shortlist of amazing destinations. When you close your eyes you can hear the gentle waves of…“GET OFF ME!” “GIVE IT BACK!”
Ah, children. Do you bring ‘em along?
There are plenty of obvious reasons to bring the kids on vacation: travelling is prime family bonding time; leaving them behind can be a logistical nightmare; and, after all, kids need a vacation from their hyper-scheduled lives too.
But every parent knows, a vacation with children is not fully a vacation. Even removed from the daily grind of work and household chores, there are still the realities of being responsible for little humans.
Enjoying nightlife, sleeping in, dozing by the seaside, or impulsively joining a day-long diving excursion are some of the best things about vacation. With kids in tow, these little pleasures are not impossible, but do require an extra level of planning. A night out means an expensive hotel babysitter; sleeping in will cost a bribe of screen time; and no snoozing on the beach for you when there’s a murderous sea lapping at your babies! Of course, there’s the interminable guilt for sticking your darlings in kids’ club for the day while you enjoy that dive excursion, but don’t worry! You’ll feel guilty if you leave them at home too! (#parentinglife)
Trips are for kids! Vacation, not always
We’ve travelled a ton with the kids and without, and like with most things in life, we’ve found the answer is in a compromise. Some trips are for travel, some are for vacation, and longer trips can be a combination of both. Some trips are for all of us, and some trips are *just for us.*
While I am dedicated to showing my kids the world, I also really love getting away with Rasho, just the two of us. This is the time to reconnect and build up the happy memories and goodwill, so we’re a stronger, healthier team when we come home. After all, one day it will be just the two of us again, so we can’t neglect each other through these busy years. Bonding on relaxing vacations goes a looong way towards filling up the ol’ love tanks.
I’ve found that our kids get the most out of faster paced trips anyway. Our recent trip to Iceland was packed from morning to night, and they loved it! There was some built-in quiet time en route to our destinations each day, and we spent about two hours each day in neighbourhood playgrounds. All three of us (this was a single-parented trip) were so engaged in our surroundings and having fun together, that nobody got bored or squabbled. Each kid had their own camera to document the trip however they liked, and I took their opinions seriously if there was something they wanted to do.
This is not to say they don’t enjoy a good beach vacation as well. There is absolutely value in building sand castles and enjoying a care free week together as a family. But honestly, kids just can’t appreciate a relaxing vacation the way adults can.
There are so many cheaper and more accessible alternatives to pack in family bonding time. Camping is our favourite, and a major win with the kids. I can’t bring myself to use up precious vacation time that could go towards a trip, so we try to book camping trips over holiday weekends. Amusement parks, weekend family getaways and even day trips and nature walks are easy ways to explore and relax together as a family.
In a perfect world, we could take three trips a year: one family vacation, one adults-only vacation, and one family travel trip. Since we live in the real world of pay cheques and vacation time, here’s the compromise: bring the kids along on those sightseeing trips around the world and watch their confidence grow as they traverse countries and cultures outside of their comfort zone. And treat them to an occasional beach vacation as well, but remember: treat yourself first! A relaxing adults-only getaway is as wonderful for you as a trip to grandma’s is for the kids!
Do you bring the kids when you travel?