Family Vacations Are No Longer About Me
Vacations used to focus on what my husband and I wanted to do, but after a family vacation that didn't go as planned it's clear they are for the kids now.
Maybe it’s because I rarely went on family vacations when I was a kid, but I clearly didn’t have a clue what vacationing with children meant…until last week. We were having fun preparing for a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando: looking at pictures online, talking about what we’d see, and measuring my daughter in order to plan what rides she could go on.
I thought my expectations were realistic. I knew we’d be taking nap breaks and needing to keep meals as regular as possible. Snacks were a must as was a stroller and baby carrier for my baby boy. We figured on late nights, swimming, and indulging on treats. Mostly I was concerned about having smooth flights.
Apparently I was a tad selfish with high expectations. This became painfully obvious as my plans slowly unraveled around me. It was frustrating to skip out on multiple shows, rides and various ideas that I thought would make the trip fun. Things I thought my daughter would love, but instead she reacted much differently.
She was afraid of all the characters-even when we stayed far back. She was no longer interested in rides or being in the parks at all. Her most commonly used phrase was I want to get out of here.
I knew it wouldn’t be perfect and we’d miss out on a lot of rides ourselves, but I just didn’t “get it” until I broke down crying on our last night there. We tried eating dinner at a restaurant I wanted to try, but left early due to a major baby meltdown. All the frustrations and disappointed feelings I bottled up throughout our vacation came tumbling out in hot tears.
Then my husband shared a wonderful insight as he reassured me that everything was all right. Family vacations are no longer about us, they are about the kids.
Unlike me, he had low expectations of what we’d be able to do and enjoyed whatever we did. Maybe growing up with brothers and going on family trips to Disney World helped. Maybe I’m trying to cram everything I wanted to do as a kid in as an adult thinking my kids want to do it too.
And maybe I just put too much pressure on doing things with two children under three years old in tow.
I stopped looking at everything in a negative way and focused on the fun moments. Rather than chock it up to a wasted trip, I looked at it as a learning experience. Sure, we never went on any rides, but we still wondered around and saw the parks. The hotel was nice and we learned just how much our daughter enjoys swimming and water parks. (That was a big change from a year ago!) My daughter liked flying and we all got a little silly in our room.
As I tell people about our trip, some negative bits slip in because the reality is they were still part of the experience. Going forward I need to look at family vacations with a different mindset. Rather than thinking about what I want to do and what I want them to like too, I need to just think of the kids first. And get nice hotels because the room was her favorite part.
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