My husband and I recently had some friends visit us here in Austin from back “home,” Chicago. We were all sitting outside one evening, them drinking, me slightly-to-moderately annoyed I can’t also drink, when the conversation about vacations came up. Our friend had flat-out asked us why we don’t vacation more. To me being pregnant and sensitive, it was a pretty bold and blunt question. It’s a pretty normal question in the grand scheme of things, but for some reason, it stung a bit. Like dude, what gives? It’s none of your business what our vacation schedule is like. If we choose to travel that is our business, not yours. And then I thought to myself – Why am I so upset over such a simple question? He meant no harm. But it obviously triggered some weird defense mechanism, and I felt the need to explain myself.
Should we be traveling more? Did we miss out on important family experiences? Am I not letting my daughter experience enough culture? If they can get up and go with two, why can’t we with one? So many questions and thoughts went racing through my head but all I could mutter was, “We do vacation!” and then I rattled off a bunch of places we had been to in pre-baby life with such pride. His response was that his friends A and B are always traveling, and his other friends C and D are as well. And, again, coming a defensive space I barked “But they don’t have kids!” I was a little embarrassed by my reaction, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was in the wrong. So while my husband and our friends continued to drink and enjoy themselves on the patio, I was in a battle in my own head over vacations and why we haven’t taken a “real” one since our daughter was born, two years ago.
My conclusion? People vacation for different reasons. For me – if I am going to spend the money, have my husband take a week off work – the whole enchilada – I want to completely unplug. Therefore, I believe a vacation with kids is not at all a vacation but a trip – a trip with kids.
When I vacation, like truly vacation, I want a break from it all. I want to relax. I want to sleep in. I want to not have a worry in the world. The only thing I want to think about is where my next umbrella-adorned cocktail is coming from and how soon it will be arriving. I want to come home feeling refreshed and ready to crush life. With a young baby, toddler or even child with you on vacation, you don’t get all of that. What you do get is all of the same parenting responsibilities you had at home but in a new and probably unfamiliar territory (i.e. more stressful for all). As a family unit we decided we didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for added stress and very little relaxation.
We do take shorter trips with our daughter, little weekend getaways here and there, and that works great for us. We come back refreshed and ready to rock and roll. When we return and plop on the couch after Maxi falls asleep on Sunday night, my husband will look at me and say, “I feel like I haven’t been at work in a week,” even if he took only a day or even a half day off. It’s validating – we can disconnect, pack a few days with a ton of fun stuff, and come back knowing we made the best of it, feeling refreshed – as opposed to feeling buried under the weight of the coming workweek and the cost of a massive trip.
One day we will pack up the whole family and cruise down to Mexico for an actual vacation or plan a trip overseas knowing what we’re in for, but for now we’re going to stick with what works for us: No big trips unless it’s sans-tiny humans.