Sometimes I don't know why they call it a "vacation". A vacation can be A LOT of work for a mom, especially when it's a family vacation. Actually, it really shouldn't be called a "family" vacation. It should really be called the "kids" vacation because that's usually who has the most fun and most the activities are geared towards. At least that's how it is in our house since our kids are so young.
When the girls were babies, my husband and I went on several, awesome vacations, just him and I, and I looked forward to the day we could take our girls on family vacations. Little did I know how much time and effort that it takes to pull off a family vacation. Not that I don't have fun on our family vacations, but I feel like I need a "vacation" after we get back from our vacation.
First, as the designated event planner/travel agent in our house, I'm responsible for all travel arrangements, from the initial idea, to finding the best deal, to planning the dates, and scheduling the itinerary. All maps, reservation confirmations, and discount tickets are prepared and organized months ahead of the scheduled departure day. Calendars are marked and school/work schedules are adjusted accordingly.
Then about three days before we leave for vacation is when things really start to get hairy. All the laundry needs to be caught up so everyone has a full assortment of clothes to choose from, at least two lists need to be made, one for things to pack and one for things to do before we pull out of the driveway, the milk needs to get drank up, as well as any fruit or leftovers; and oh yeah, someone should probably come by and feed the dogs. Then the truck has to be decluttered, fueled up and maybe even get an oil change.
A day or two before we leave, the packing begins a day or two before. Packing for five is a trick and if not well planned, can be disastrous. I use to think packing for a baby was difficult, but packing for multiple people at various ages is not a picnic either. I occasionally let a few of them pack for themselves but I almost always end up regretting it. It's inevitable that underwear will be forgotten or the wrong jeans packed, of which somehow becomes my fault. I've found it best if I just do it all myself and being somewhat of a control freak, I secretly sort of enjoy it.
The morning that we leave I'm up at the crack of dawn, mind racing with all the last minute things to do. I run around like a Tasmanian devil, frantically zipping up bags, dressing myself, assembling snacks and drinks, drinking coffee, unplugging electronics, you name it, while everyone else sleeps comfortably. Their only job is to wake up, get dressed, grab their pillow and get in the truck, and they have the audacity look at me, with my frazzled hair and sweaty face, and ask, "What's wrong with you, aren't you excited about our vacation?" As we leave the house, I run through my mind all the things I might have forgotten, because heaven forbid we have to turn around.
While traveling, I have to make sure each person is content with snacks, drinks, color books, toys, and electronics. Everyone has to be placed in the right seat that doesn't invoke hair pulling, smacking or seat kicking. Everyone also has to meet all highway safety standards and be buckled in like Houdini. (Long gone are the days of standing up in the front seat between mom and dad or lying in the back window of an oversized sedan.) This whole traveling process requires turning my neck 400 times, no consistent reading, no nap over 15 minutes and lots of threats for Dad to pull over.
During the vacation, while the kids are lounging on the hotel beds watching SpongeBart CirclePants, and hubby's reading the local hunting guide, I'm hanging up wet swimsuits, rinsing out sippy cups for reuse, separating dirty clothes from clean ones but really just wishing I could take a nap. At night, it never fails, the four year old is always overly tired and has bad dreams and who does she wake up multiple times? Me. I guess as long as she doesn't wake up sick, I'll get up as many times as it takes. I realized, however, that I have a better nights sleep at home, then I do on vacations.
When the "fun" is over for the week and we return home, the hubby goes back to work, the kids go back to playing, and I stand facing mountainous piles of dirty clothes, a stack of mail to sort through, an empty fridge, no meals planned out, three dying flower pots, 78 emails calling my name, and two attention deprived dogs.
It takes me at least a week to recover from the "vacation," so I just got to wondering, define "vacation" in mom's terms. I'm positive it's different then the dictionary's.