I Took My Son on Vacation With Me, but He Didn’t Let Me Rest Even for a Minute
I had a deep love for summer vacations in the past. It meant spontaneous trips to the beach, forest camping, and exploring historical cities. My husband and I were content with minimal comforts and could decide on a trip just a few hours before hopping on a train. However, everything changed once we had a baby. We quickly realized that vacations are far from simple, particularly with a family.
I’m Mary, and I’d like to discuss why vacations with kids can be far from relaxing, much like maternity leave. Nevertheless, this reality doesn’t deter us parents from embarking on various adventures with our little ones.
Taking a moment to relax? It’s nearly impossible.
Every mother understands this all too well: taking your eyes off your child, even for a moment, can lead to accidents, unexpected snacks, or even a disappearing act. I still remember losing my 3-year-old at a crowded train station. My heart sank.
Then I saw some woman holding my son’s hand and walking away. I panicked, ran after them, and thankfully, my son ran back to me. The lady’s intentions were harmless; she just wanted to help and was taking him to the information desk. It was a sigh of relief.
Vacations with children are a bit like that train station moment. You must always be vigilant to prevent them from wandering off or getting into mischief. Babies are simpler since they mostly eat and sleep, but relaxation remains a rare luxury with kids ranging from one to 18 years old. The little ones are prone to falls and mischief, and the older ones embark on various adventures that keep us on our toes.
Our destination choices shift from our personal preferences to places where our child can have a wonderful time.
Traveling with young children presents many challenges and can be anxiety-inducing for parents. They often grapple with the uncertainty of how their child will handle extended flights, different climates, new cuisines, or potential health issues, especially when they’re far from their trusted pediatrician.
Shorter trips can bring their own set of problems. For instance, I recall when my son suffered from motion sickness in various modes of transportation until he turned seven. Unfortunately, his allergies prevented the use of motion sickness medication. As a result, even a short 30-minute car, boat, or train ride could transform our cheerful child into a miserable one, creating stress for the entire family.
Parents find that their preferences take a backseat with children in the picture. Whether mom desires to visit a tropical paradise like Goa or dad’s wish for a camping adventure, planning even a simple outing to the local park becomes an arduous task that requires meticulous preparation and foresight.
Kids are more prone to getting infections compared to grown-ups.
Children tend to attract a wide array of illnesses, and this has been a consistent reality. For instance, during my childhood, I vividly remember a family trip to the seaside with a large group of kids and adults. We enthusiastically swam until our lips turned blue on the first day. However, the excitement was short-lived as the very next day, I found myself in a local hospital accompanied by my mom due to a soaring fever of almost 104 °F.
I had contracted strep throat, and our vacation was spent mainly in the hospital, with my mom paying extra to stay with me. The sea, a significant trip attraction, was a sight I could only glimpse once during our entire stay, while the hospital became a much more familiar place.
Now, as a mother myself, my first aid kit occupies a substantial portion of my luggage. I must include an inhaler and various medicines that might not be readily accessible at our destination. My son has battled rotavirus, the flu, and conjunctivitis throughout our vacations. He’s had his share of playground accidents, with a forehead injury being one of the less serious incidents. In contrast, our neighbor’s daughter returned from a seaside vacation last year with a leg cast and one on her arm this year.
My child’s idea of a vacation doesn’t align with mine.
People have different vacation preferences, and it can be challenging when your child’s interests don’t align with yours. For instance, I enjoy visiting zoos and spending hours there, but my son finds it less exciting. He’s more drawn to amusement rides nearby. While he doesn’t complain, seeing him feeling down during our outings is not enjoyable. So, I compromise by swapping animal exhibits for carousels.
Parents often find themselves sacrificing their own interests for the sake of their children, and vacations are no exception. We might skip a trip to a forested lake because my son gets car sick. I avoid planning long walks in historic towns, even though I love them because my child can’t walk long distances in the direction I prefer. Of course, children grow and change, but it’s uncertain when things will become easier.
At times, I wonder if we should skip vacations altogether.
Children often recall vacations differently than their parents anticipate. I remember when my son was 3.5 years old; it was his first significant trip to the seaside. We took a train, a plane and experienced mountains and waves. When we returned home, my mom asked him, “What do you remember most, my grandson?” Without hesitation, my son replied, “Mom and some guy had a funny fight over a watermelon.”
It was an epic situation where we purchased a rotten watermelon, and the seller insisted it was ripe. I even tried to make him taste it! While it might have appeared comical to onlookers, I was frustrated, wondering why we had taken our child so far for such an experience when we could have encountered the same drama at any nearby grocery store.
Such unexpected twists in children’s memories can sometimes dishearten parents. Moms and dads who invested considerable effort and money into a vacation with their kids may feel dispirited upon hearing such recollections. Nevertheless, a year or two later, they pack their bags again, eager to introduce their children to new destinations and the wonders of the world, even if their primary memory is not what their parents originally envisioned.
Vacations with kids, despite their difficulties, are still wonderful.
I’ve been a mom for eight years; during that time, I’ve experienced five vacations with my child. I’ve realized that these family trips offer a unique kind of relaxation. While vacationing with a small child is far from adult-centric getaways, it brings rewards.
One of the most apparent benefits is the opportunity to revisit my own childhood. As I was growing up, I matured quickly and often played the role of my mom’s helper. There wasn’t much room for childhood fun in our small town. Now, with my son, I get to indulge in everything I missed out on: cotton candy, exploring haunted houses and quirky attractions like the “Upside Down House,” and experiencing thrilling amusement park rides. I rarely pursued these adventures when I didn’t have a child, but now, I embrace them wholeheartedly, finding immense enjoyment in reliving these experiences through my child’s eyes.
I’ve come to understand that children are elementary to please. They aren’t concerned about the reputation of a place or the number of stars a hotel boasts. Up to a certain age, their happiness primarily hinges on the presence and engagement of their parents. This summer, for instance, we couldn’t embark on an international getaway, so we opted for a month in the countryside. We had to get creative and uncover amusement close to home.
My son and I embarked on a treasure hunt at our cottage, explored an ostrich farm, organized a delightful picnic in a forest alongside his friends, and attended an outdoor movie screening in a neighboring town. His enthusiasm in recounting these little adventures to his city friends made me realize that no grand seaside vacation could rival the joy these simple, local experiences brought him.
The enigma of human memory often leaves us guessing what moments will leave a lasting imprint. Immediately after a trip, a child might recall their first ice cream cone or a whimsical balloon shaped like their beloved character, but in reality, it’s the experiences of riding on their dad’s shoulders or learning to swim with their mom that linger. These feelings and impressions become cherished, permanent treasures in a child’s heart, even if they struggle to express them initially.
We can’t predict the twists and turns life has in store, but the joyful childhood memories are bound to be invaluable. Crafting these vivid moments of happiness for your child is a source of genuine delight, even if it means returning from vacation more fatigued than when you left. Indeed, vacationing with children doesn’t equate to relaxation, but it undoubtedly paves the way for their radiant future. Thus, I firmly believe it’s worth mustering our strength and wholeheartedly reveling in our time with the kids, no matter how it unfolds. After all, we can never be sure if this particular vacation will proceed without a hitch.
Our readers shared their experiences of vacationing with children.
- I took my daughters, aged 3 and 6, to the sea. It was exhausting to watch them run in different directions. I was feeling more tired than at home. Upon our return, my husband asked our kids what they remembered most.
The eldest said, “Mom took off her swimsuit and showered. Then she screamed like a seagull!” I screamed because the water was boiling hot on my sunburned shoulders. I couldn’t believe this was more memorable than the sea and trip.
- We made a mistake when we booked a bus tour in Crete. It was hot and stuffy, and half the bus had restless little kids who wouldn’t sit still. The worst part for me was that the kids were abruptly pulled away from a cute cat with kittens and forced to see some attractions at one of the stops. © Zlobniy_suslik / Bright Side
- My daughter has traveled to eight countries and taken ten flights in the past 18 months. I admit we are not doing it all for her but for ourselves. But she did enjoy swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and watching a panda. Of course, traveling with a baby is more complicated than without one, but it is manageable. © Artur Holavin / Bright Side
- I don’t have any children, but I remember how I used to go to the sea with my parents every summer as a kid. My parents were easygoing people in life. They hardly brought any medicines, warm clothes, toys, or other comforts.
If I scraped my knees, they told me to go to the sea and wash them with salt water; if I got sunburned, it healed on its own; if I felt cold, I wrapped myself in blankets and never got sick. I spent all day swimming in the sea, digging in the sand, collecting shells. Those are the best memories of my life! I wish I could go back to that time again. © Maria Denisyuk / Bright Side
Navigating the complexities of parenthood can be challenging because specific actions, even unintentional ones, can adversely affect our children. It is crucial to identify these factors to ensure our children’s emotional well-being and healthy development.