Vacationing with your toddlerI mentioned this once before, but I wanted to get in depth on this one! I am often taken aback by blog posts and comments on forums and in real life from people who think its crazy to take your young kids on vacation with you.
I think these people are the crazy ones, not me!
There are a number of repeated reasons I hear as excuses to not take your children on vacation with you, and I want to address each of them individually.
Excuse 1 - I need Alone/Adult Time
Of all the excuses, this is really the only one that has any merit. I completely understand the need to get some alone time... this is important for a number of reasons, and I won't go into those, but to use it as an excuse to NOT vacation with your children is just that, an excuse.
You CAN vacation and still get alone time. You just have to plan in advance. The key with ALL of this is that your vacation with a toddler is going to be different (more on that later), and that just requires planning.
EXAMPLE - our upcoming cruise (starting saturday WOOT!). Carnival (and other cruise lines) have programs for kids. Activities, meals, babysitting, and more designed to keep your little one occupied while you have some Adult time in the casino, taking a nap, reading a book, or spending time with your Spouse. Plan your vacation with these kind of amenities, and you can have the best of both worlds.
Now, N and I have taken weekends away from our little man and left him with his Aunt or other family members, and thats ok occasionally in my opinion. But, for us, we are missing our little man by the time we get to the hotel.
Excuse 2 - They won't remember it anyway
This excuse is the one that I find the least reasonable, and the WORST reason not to take your kids places. I mean really, if you only did things when your kids will remember them, then you might as well stay home and sit them in front of the TV 24x7 until they are 5... they won't remember it anyway right?
The REALITY is, that even if your kids won't have specific memories of your Caribbean Cruise when they become adults , they WILL be influenced by it. Toddler age is a VERY formative time for your kids. They will learn what it means to travel, how to handle new and different situations, what foods they like or don't like, how to handle new routines, and much more. By traveling with our little B, we also get to LAVISH time and love on him that he doesn't get as much in our hum-drum lives at work with only evenings and weekends to be a family.
And that doesn't even touch the fact that YOU are going to remember the vacation. We've been traveling with B since he was 6 weeks old (his first flight), and those are memories I treasure. And the THOUSANDS of pictures I have will make for great stories and conversations as he grows older.
You don't do things with your kids JUST to ensure they remember it, you do it to enrich their lives, to enrich yours, and to grow as a FAMILY.
Excuse 3 - Kids are a nuisance
This one usually comes from people without kids, though not always. And the reality, if you don't have kids, and someone asks for advice about traveling with one, STAY OUT! Your negative attitude is NOT going to make the situation better!
This one usually starts out with a comment like "Leave your kids at home so they don't ruin my vacation". How selfish do you have to be to demand a FAMILY change their plans and desires so you don't have to see a kid at the pool on deck? And thats what it is, its selfishness, and completely UNFOUNDED! The reality is that the VAST majority of families travel with kids with no issues, few tantrums, and NO INTERRUPTION in others vacations.
A great example of this was our last cruise in 2007, before we had kids. We were on the Carnival Triumph, and during the debarkation talk, the Cruise Direction said (I'm paraphrasing) "If you think the kids program did nothing for you, please understand that there were 700 children on this cruise". There was a gasp from the crowd, as the kids were almost invisible the entire vacation, caused no disruptions, and MOST of us had no idea there were any kids at all.
When kids are given activities and structure, they get more enjoyment out of their vacation, and cause LESS trouble. And, for those of you parents who think your KIDS are a nuisance, take this to heart. Take your kids on vacation, AND spend time with them. Do activities, make memories, have fun TOGETHER! Your kids will enjoy it more, and be less of a nuisance! YOU will enjoy it as well
Excuse 4 - I won't get to relax / drink a lot
This excuse (and number 5) are related, and are part of the fundamental flaw I think happens when people think about vacationing with their kids. Your vacationing WITH them, they are not just along for the ride. If you drag your kids somewhere, turn them loose and start chugging beer, trouble is going to rear its ugly head.
This is not to say you can not enjoy an adult beverage or two, nor is it saying that you can't relax. But you have to remember that your kids are PART of your vacation. And you ALL will have more fun if you do it together!
As well (as I mentioned earlier) if you do a little advanced planning, you can make this work even better. Plan a vacation that has kids activities. These can include (but are not limited to) Cruises and Resorts. Or, if you can make it a group vacation with other families or friends, you can share the responsibility and schedule some adult time. But, PLEASE don't drag your kids with you and then do nothing but get drunk while ignoring your kids!
Excuse 5 - I won't get to do the things I used to do on vacation
IF this is what you are thinking, you are 100% right! However, this is NOT a bad thing. Your vacation is going to require MORE planning, and a compromise on what you do. You will have to select age appropriate activities, plan around naps and meals, and maybe even go to bed earlier. But, trust me, the time you spend will be meaningful, wonderful, and will seem SHORT!
Don't be afraid to slow down as well. Plan some neat tour or time at a museum or kids discovery center in the morning, then take a family nap after lunch! If your near a beach, grab some beach toys and just let the kids RUN up and down the sand, and then help them build a sand castle.
With just a little for-thought you can have a GREAT vacation. And, with the world of the internet, you have no excuse for not having the information and tools needed to plan a GREAT vacation. As well, as your family grows and the kids get older, your vacations will begin to mature and change to meet the needs of your family.
And there it is - YOUR FAMILY
This is the crux of the entire thing. You have kids, you have a FAMILY! You've taken on a great responsibility, and you should embrace it! Stop thinking in terms of vacationing as a single adult or a couple without kids. Your kids WANT to spend time with you, and you should WANT to spend time with them. Take a vacation as an opportunity to do just that, and experience these places and things in a whole new way!
Benefits of vacationing with your Toddler:
- Possibly cheaper cost
- Free Meals
- Discounted travel
- Family Discounts
- See the world through your Toddlers Eyes!
- Amazing Family Pictures
- Teach your children how to interact and learn!
- YOU can set your schedule
- AMAZING Memories for you
Don't let the nay-sayers talk you into leaving your kids with Grandma, take them with you! Do a little Advanced Planning, and ENJOY the time with your family! I know we will!