Vacation! Clearly everyone needs and craves a break. A break from the routine. The Normal. The office. The everyday.
And thus, I feel immensely grateful for the week which lies ahead. On our first night here, Alex exclaimed, “Is there a church here? Is Daddy going to go there to work this week???!!!”. This wasn’t stated in disdain, just matter of fact. And indeed, what a treat to share with him that nope, this week is all about the four of us being together.
In some ways, I have been looking towards this week with apprehension. Whether fearing gallons of ingested sand by the littlest (which has already happened!)…
Or temper tantrums and battles of will with the eldest (which has already happened as well)….
As much as our budget should have forced us on a “Staycation”, I am so thankful for a change of scenery. As a stay at home mom, I feel like I have a lot of time to explore and visit places nearby. And frankly, a new location forces everyone to be on neutral ground, not resorting to the patterns of our day to day lives. To submerge into something new, and unknown became my battle cry….
I have always had a bug for travel, no doubt due to my parents’ planning and urging while growing up. Something clicked during my first years as a teacher, single and without a family. It became a time to live frugally, save with purpose, and then convince friends to go on a big, multi week adventure…..across the United States, road trip style; to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; to Italy, twice (once single, and once again, married with three other couples) to France and finally, to Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Each trip was so distinct and memorable. I think we took the term submerge to a new level, with travel guru Rick Steves at the helm! We went from museum to museum, restaurant and market to market, art galleries to offbeat coffee shops, wineries to bakeries to historic relics. Glorious!
But to submerge today means something altogether different. To submerge, jump in, explore and immerse ourselves involves getting to know the local parks, planning our day around nap times, making sure to have string cheese and apple juice boxes packed in the bags before departure. As much as it looks different to travel these days, I wouldn’t trade this new “normal” for anything. In the past we have met up with friends or had family join us for part of our trip, but this time, it just didn’t work out. That arrival of new blood is always welcome. So much more fun to go to the playground with friends or have Grandma and Grandpa spell us so we can enjoy one meal out. Last year we enjoyed breakfast at our favorite spot in Manzanita, Oregon…not pricey and crazy sheik, just no kid balancing.
(breakfast and the paper at Bread and Ocean in Manzanita….I seriously think about this place on a daily basis!)
Because we don’t have anyone to join us this week (unless someone wants to join us for a day trip or overnight!?!? Haha….), I tried to be intentional about planning ahead, greatly due to my friend Krista’s urging. After returning from a recent vacation and not feeling too relaxed, she gave me some much needed tips.
First off, she reminded me not to throw the schedule out the window. To be flexible and open, yes, but to keep a general framework in place. Thus, the “Nap Supervision” chart came into being.
To allow for one-on-one time with Alex, the eldest. He doesn’t get that as much these days with a newly mobile baby on the loose. So, to plan for that, make time for it, and make it special.
Third, to make sure each of gets time alone, sans kids. Even though we can’t have time for the two of us alone, it still is important, even for extrovert me, to have some alone time. So, the schedule allows for this each afternoon, every other day.
I know this may seem really Type A of me, and it IS!, but…it takes the guesswork and negotiation out of the equation and makes a clear plan. Plans can always change, but at least there’s a plan to work from.
Fourth, do research ahead of time on kid friendly places, things to do and places to eat. I know we won’t hit everything, but at least we have a place to start from. Whether it be a fantastic u-pick farm (which we have worked in each summer on our beach trips), local playgrounds or kid friendly beaches, or the weekly schedule for the Farmer’s Market, I am purposely note taking and planning for months prior to the trip.
It has been great so far….48 hrs in….love the adventures, sand, laughs, sand, sunsets, sand, pace, sand….we’ll see how the next few days unfold! Would love to hear your tips for vacation success, knowing fully well that each year, with new developmental milestones, will make for new joys, challenges, plans and adventures. And yes, guessing 99% of you would recommend flexibility. Thus, why we have Drew sleeping in a closet–makeshift third bedroom!