A Family Vacation Is No Vacation at All

Kristen Chase
Big Kid

Family vacation tips


Every year we make a pilgrimage to the vacation of my own and my husband's youth -- the Jersey Shore.

No, not that Jersey Shore. A little farther South. Slightly less hairspray. And fake tans.

It's rare for my husband to get any time off in a row, but he saved up his leave from his current military position and got a whopping five days off in a row. And so, like we do every year, we took our gaggle of kids to the beach to celebrate my daughter's 6th birthday.

I do my best not to dread this because it's obviously our choice to go and it's something that we feel strongly about. A trip with all of us together at one time, visiting grandparents in a place that's near and dear to our hearts.

However, it's never an actual vacation unless you're at a four-star all-inclusive resort with childcare. Now that, my friends, IS a vacation.

My in-laws are there to, in theory, offer some extra hands and relief so that my husband and I can enjoy some time together. But if you know my in-laws, then you know that they offer the minimal amount of help possible, and only when asked, so I end up doing almost exactly what I do every day here at home, except with smaller living and sleeping quarters, blazing hot weather, and way too much sand.

Add in kids who are sleeping less and a husband who is actually on vacation and thus treats it as such, and it's a recipe for one heck of a long week.

It's not completely unfair for my husband to enjoy being off from work by taking naps, sleeping in, and enjoying some time to himself. But technically I'm on vacation as well, so doesn't that mean that I should be afforded some of the same luxuries?

Alas, I end up sleeping on the couch or on a bad blow-up mattress with my son, falling asleep around 9 p.m. because I'm too darn tired from doing everything that I usually do at home.

So much for getting any quality alone time with my husband, who is oddly well-rested and enjoying himself to the fullest.

And I'm waking up at the butt crack of dawn with my two younger, sleep-deprived kids, walking them on the boardwalk to find breakfast at the wee hours of the morning so as not to wake up anyone else.

There's part of me that knows I just need to speak up, dump the kids off, and go back to bed. But there's another part of me that feels as though someone, ANYONE, should offer to help me out -- send me off to take a snooze by the pool alone for goodness sakes. Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not doing every single thing by myself. Hands are given. But in my mind, a vacation is a time when you get a break from your everyday existence.

I get the feeling the only way I'm ever going to get that is if we turn "family vacation" into "daddy vacation" and leave mommy home.


Photo by Kristen Chase

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