Take a Vacation!

How often do you take a vacation?

We used to do random trips with either set of grandparents – weekends in the mountains, traveling to see other family, or extra family time on either end of a business trip. A few extra days when we traveled for a wedding or other event.

My parents do not take vacations very often (travel to places they love or new places they haven’t seen yet, not related to any other event or activity). They travel here and there to visit their kids or other family who don’t live close (my brother in Florida, my sister in Boston). Sometimes I have tagged along on these trips, often with one or more of my kids, or we all meet somewhere. Two years ago, we all teamed up to send them to Hawaii for two weeks for their 40th anniversary, and they had a wonderful time!

One of our favorite things in Hawaii – checking out black sand beaches and seeing turtles!

My husband’s parents like to take big trips – usually to either Florida or Hawaii – every few years, and they like to invite us to join them. Sometimes these trips also coincide with work events for them, or for us.

We love all of our travel with our extended family – we really do.

However, we came to realize something about 10 years ago. We had not taken any actual vacations by ourselves, with just our little family. And we made a conscious decision to change that.

So, almost a decade ago, we started to consciously make plans every year to take an actual family vacation by ourselves. That year – when I was 7+ months pregnant with our second child – we went to San Antonio. We stayed downtown for several nights, and then moved out into the Hill Country and drove around to check out antique stores and took our oldest to Sea World.

Very pregnant me with the oldest at the Alamo, 2011.

We have taken long weekends closer to home, and we have had some great trips to our favorite places as well. Before our third child was born, we went to the Florida Keys. Our favorite place? Hawaii. Always. But we also like to find new places to see and explore, too!

Do you have an epic dream trip? Check out our Team Juggling Normal Q&A about our Dream Trips!

My best advice? Take a vacation! Whether you go for a long weekend stay-cation closer to home every few months, or save up for an epic destination every few years (or both), I strongly encourage everyone I know to take time for your family. Get away from your day to day, anywhere.

Now, for several years, I have been trying to get my husband to agree to a kid-free trip. He doesn’t like to do those – I’ve mentioned before that he travels a lot for work, and he likes to have us all together during the rare times he has to relax and have down time. And we have had our share of adult-only travel for various work trips…but I don’t think work travel counts.

Two weeks ago, the husband completely surprised me when he booked flights and hotels for a kid-free vacation. And it was glorious! We had not been on a work-free, kid-free trip since our honeymoon, 17 years ago. I hope that I do not have to wait another 17 years…but regardless, we had such a wonderful time.

Adult beverage and ambience…what could be better?

We relaxed, we had a lot of beach time, we had a few adult beverages, great meals, and we slept in.

(We got COVID tests before we left, kept mostly to ourselves, and wore masks everywhere we went except while on the beach; you can travel safely, airplanes have better air filtration systems than most other places, and I felt comfortable with everything we did).

Whether you have one kid, or three like us, or more – I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it was to get away. The last year has been crazy, on so many levels.

The. Best. View. Isn’t that so relaxing?

I love my children. I would do anything for them – and don’t we all do that, every day? With everyone home for such a bigger chunk of the last year than normal, I think we’ve all been hyped up and just rolling with whatever is next for months on end. I think everyone needs to take a vacation to really relax and get away – even if it is a rental house or hotel across town, just for a change of scenery…and I have friends who have done that!

We couldn’t have taken this trip without our parents tag-teaming the kids and all of their various activities – so a huge shoutout to my parents and my in-laws for holding down the fort so that we could have this time, and for friends and neighbors helping to keep track of everything for us (including shoveling snow when we missed a storm back home)!

Whatever your life situation, and whatever you have going on, if you are super stressed and keyed up, the best thing is always to find a way to get a change of scenery for a few days – and I think vacations big and small are so good for kids!

Our first daycare lady, years ago, had a theory that kids can grow in so many ways – almost a paradigm shift – when they are taken out of their everyday environment for a few days or a week or two. If kids go to grandma’s house for a week, or visit new places to explore with their parents (away from their daily routine), they make leaps and bounds in learning things that you might not even have noticed they were stalled on (crawling, walking, talking, motor skills, etc.).

I love this idea, and I have watched as each of our kids has learned new things and gained first-person knowledge of history as we have taken them to new places all over the country and the world. They also bring those nuggets of information back to their friends, and share the cool stuff they have learned!

Our kids, at the top of Kilauea Crater, 2016.

The other thing I am a big believer in (that kind of follows this train of thought – I promise) is letting your kids stay overnight with grandparents or friends, early. I did this out of necessity when we had work travel with each of our kids when they were babies, but also because our parents have always offered and loved their special sleepover nights. And our kids beg for those special nights even when we’re all home!

So, along with the challenge for you to take a vacation – with and without your kids – I’m a huge believer in finding your tribe of support for those times you need a night off as a busy mom or dad. Whether it is a babysitter in order to go out to dinner, or being able to leave kids for a weekend getaway, our “village” of friends, neighbors, and extended family helps us out, all the time. We called on friends to help with our kids after school last week, and it was a group effort!

One of my beach reads last week (that ended up being 5 books I downloaded to my Kindle by that author) talked about the “village” that raised a group of lifetime friends. Isn’t that what we all want? To know that our support network will be there to help us, or to correct our kids, or to pitch in on the mom’s taxi, whenever we feel like we are overwhelmed?

Those are the times to take a step back, find a campground or boutique hotel or Air BnB to escape to, and de-camp to a different spot for one night or a few days. Changing the scenery – even in a pandemic – can be so life changing. I feel refreshed, and I’m sure I’ll be able to tackle whatever comes next each day – at least for awhile.

sunset beach
Sunset on the beach, last Friday.

Friends, always be willing and find a way to take a vacation! I promise, you will never regret it.

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