Maybe before you had children you liked to travel. Maybe you walked hand in hand with your partner and imagined how amazing it would be to someday go back there with your beautiful, perfectly behaved children (because your imaginary future parenting was FLAWLESS). You envisioned the meals where your children would eat adventurously, wouldn’t need crayons, disposable paper children’s menus or ketchup on everything – They would share the red snapper with rice and seasonal vegetables, of course. Walks along the scenic boardwalk (or through the charming alpine village, or along the beach) would be peaceful, loving, serene, and nobody would be lying on the ground banging their fists and screaming “I HATE YOU MAMA, YOU MEAN!!!!”. That is because pre-parent you had NO IDEA what vacationing with young children would be like. Luckily, I know what it’s like and will share my wisdom because I’m nice like that.
You will have to schlep a lot of stuff
You will never again “travel light” or be on time. Like seriously ever. There are carseats and strollers, diaper bags, baby carriers, cuddle toys, snacks and infinite changes of clothes (for them and for you – hello airport poo-pocalypse).
Thank goodness most airports have mercy and designate special lines for families with babies and/or small children. And you will always take longer to go anywhere or do anything than before you reproduced, so arrive early! Between having to check bags, deal with ill-timed diaper eruptions and feed hungry babies (because they just freed up so much room dumping the core in the security line), budget at least 30 more minutes than you think you need, and about 100% more diapers and clean outfits…
Pro-tip, even if the thought of vacationing with your own parents or in-laws sounds about as fun as a root canal or an enema, invite them along! Or better yet, convince them to invite you! Extra grownups are always good. Bonus, it counts as bonding time and you might even be able to score a date night on holiday – so basically 2.5 hours of actual grownup fun. I recommend checking out early-bird deals in local eateries. It really puts things in perspective when you are the youngest couple in the room by 50 years, and old people don’t notice temper tantrums so much because hearing loss.
Grandparents also make excellent birth control, in case you were thinking of adding to your brood due to the romantic setting (because you have lost your mind). A condo with thin walls, communal cooking and cleaning and a shared bathroom brings you right back to when you still lived at home. But now there are small chaos muppets running around and alcohol is legal.
You will have “words”
And by words, I mean fights, in case you were’t picking up what I was putting down. You and your partner will question your sanity, the stability of your relationship, why on earth this vacation EVER seemed like a good idea, why you still care that your mother doesn’t like your bathing suit or hairstyle and whose fault it is that your kids are being THE WORST… I could go on but I don’t want to scare you…
Parents on holiday with their little ones for the first time, walking through that scenic village, along that boardwalk or down that beach, struggling to manage the bags, the meltdowns; trying to capture the photo that will make this crazy trip into a beautiful memory will receive understanding looks from more seasoned vacationing families. These families know that as children age, the challenges become less about actual sh*t (the messy poo kind) and more about figurative sh*t (like tween and teen attitude), but the looks say “We are in the sh*t, too. We get it.” Because vacationing with children means it’s OK to cry.