We’ve got a family vacation coming up.
Wait, what?? Who’s idea was it to ever put the words “family” and “vacation” together in the same sentence, let alone make the phrase worthy of a Wheel of Fortune puzzle?
My idea of a vacation: Wake up at leisure and make my way unhurriedly to an airport. Fly somewhere tropical. Sit on the beach and take dips in the ocean. Repeat for 5 or 6 days, return home.
What “family vacations” are really like: If you’ve ever seen Doomsday Preppers, it’s about a half-step below that. Lay out every single piece of clothing your family members own. You clearly don’t need ALL the clothing, so you pack minimally: 1 outfit per day, plus a spare outfit or two- per day. Plus swimming trunks, rain jackets, cardigans, sandals, long johns, snowsuit, and boots- you just don’t know what the weather’s gonna do. Find a dog sitter. Maybe a house sitter. Pray the plants don’t die while you’re gone. Clean the house (why? We don’t really know. I personally like all my vacation junk to blend in with the normal junk when we return). Write instructions for the dog sitter. Clean out the car. Pack snacks. Eat the snacks and resolve to pick up more on your way out of town. Figure out sleeping arrangements. Resolve to co-sleep after hitting the road and realizing the pack ‘n play never made it to the car. (Did I mention how romantic family vacations are?) Answer all the questions from the hubby: Did you pack my sunglasses? Did you bring diapers? What about floss? Do you have any Tylenol? I need some Tylenol. Do you have the checkbook? Did you shut all the windows? Should we fill up now or can we wait? (Meanwhile his jobs are done. Brush teeth: check. Find car keys: check. Ready for vacation.)
THEN the actual vacation begins: When is it nap time? Please let me find food the children will eat. Oh you don’t want to ride in the stroller ever? Let’s walk at a snails pace everywhere. Let’s go get ice cream. Just kidding, we should have a tantrum for no reason first. Spend 4 minutes at the beach. Find shelter during thunderstorm. Is it bed time yet? Repeat for 5 or 6 days. Then jam everything into the car with fingers crossed nothing’s been forgotten and head home.
So for the sake of our sanity can we just not call it family vacation anymore? We can just call them trips. That way, we have no unrealistic expectations, we lower the possibility of disappointment, but still leave room for pleasantly surprising fun. After all, trips CAN be fun. Like when everyone is in the car. And all the children are asleep.