I Require An Annual Family Vacation So My Kids Can Experience Dysfunctional Bonding

shutterstock_80662699I really relish my vacation time since my husband and I both work at home together with two kids under one roof. Most of the time, we survive this setup pretty well, but every few months or so, I think to myself, I have to get out of the GD house! RIGHT NOW.

My mom is an awesome grandma babysitter type, so she willingly takes the kids for a few weekends a year. God bless her for that. Even though I’m tempted to stick with this arrangement and leave our kids behind for as long as we possibly can, we’ve already set the precedent for forced family vacations, ever since my kids were a few months old.

My sister and my niece come down from Colorado every summer to vacation at the not-so-glamorous Texas beaches of our childhood. Since Colorado doesn’t have beaches, we win on that one.

We have been doing this family beach vacation for at least six years, and we will never stop. For one, I love spending time with my sister and my niece, and I look forward to it all year long. This is also the only opportunity my kids have to get to know their cousin.

When my younger son was born last year, he was about three months old on our beach trip. We could have bailed out because BABY, but we decided to forge ahead. Even though I knew it would be a complicated hassle, I really, really wanted to go out in public—never mind the screaming baby and irritable toddler.

I’m kind of proud of my husband and me because we took one for the team and sacrificed our fun for forced family bonding that year. We went out to dinner several times with both of our kids and all of our friends and family on the trip. Everyone made remarks like, “Your kids are doing so well! How fun for you!”

To that, I replied in my head, HAHAHAHHAHA. It may look like we’re all having a great time at dinner, but really, my husband and I were like ducks on a pond with our legs furiously paddling under the surface. Our friends didn’t realize that we spent the entire meal pulling my toddler away from all of the condiments and jiggling the baby stroller so that my infant son wouldn’t scream his head off. We probably didn’t finish a meal between us.

I know that family vacations will get less and less stressful with each passing year, and I’m never going to stop. I have memories of terrible throw-down fights on a family trip to Disney World when I was a kid. As tense as it was, I’m still glad I have that dysfunctional memory of my family vacationing together.

(Image: Aaron Amat/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • CMJ

      I recently met my mom, dad, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and their two kids (4 and 20 months) in Florida for a trip to Disney World. It was insane but SO much fun. I can’t wait to do it again. I voted for Hawaii next year.

      • Bethany Ramos

        That sounds amazing/horrible!!! ;)

      • CMJ

        We shared one room. My stipulation for next year (because my dad snores so loudly he sounds like a strangled bear) was my own room.

      • pixie

        I can empathize with you on the snoring.
        I went to my uncle’s cottage with my dad for a week for a few summers when I was a tween (when I say cottage, I mean two room hunting shack with no running water; the rooms are the kitchen and the livingroom/bedroom…the outhouse is in the wooded area). It’s up in Northern Ontario where there are a lot of bears. One night, I was woken up by what I thought was a bear, so I woke my dad. He was like, no, that’s just me snoring.”

      • Bethany Ramos

        Haha we shared a room with couple friends at a river cabin, and one was an unsuspected snorer. The worst!

      • pixie

        My boyfriend snores if he lies on his back. So I smack him and get him to roll over so I can sleep!

      • Kitsune

        My ex boyfriend was a horrible snorer and very difficult to wake up. I solved this by holding my hand over his nose and mouth till the not being able to breath woke him up and then rolled over so he wouldn’t know I had done anything. He would then move and the snoring would get better. I told his best friend I did this before I told him. Obviously a very healthy relationship. My husband knows I love him because the most I do is jab him with an elbow and toss him a breath right strip when he snores.

      • pixie

        Ha, I’m lucky that my boyfriend isn’t THAT hard to wake up (unless he’s drunk, but then if I’m drunk too, I’ll sleep like the dead regardless), but I’m very irritable when I’m half asleep so I sometimes smack a little harder than I mean to. He’s tried breathe right strips and they don’t always work for him. Plus we don’t live together so I don’t always have to put up with his snoring. ;)

      • momjones

        Excuse me, but the stipulation is your father and I have our own room!

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        Excuse me, but I was not invited on this trip.

      • momjones

        The next time, I promise. And no one is going on any trip unless CF is with us!

      • Crusty Socks

        Wait, are you CMJ’s mom IRL?

    • Crusty Socks

      Do these vacations have to be together?

    • SA

      LOVE the family vacation. But by family vacation I mean me, husband, and kid only. NO extended family (the horror). Of course this year may be different. Last year kid was afraid of the sand and just sat in one spot all day, there may be more activity required this year.

    • Natasha B

      We (drive!) 2700 miles to the west coast to visit inlaws every other summer. We…have an RV. I never saw myself as the RV type of girl, but it rocks. So yes, two summers ago we loaded up a 7yo, a 2yo, a 6week old, a 75lb dog, and a crap ton of crap and drove from MN to Oregon. IT WAS FUN and I can not wait until August this year. Driving means we get to stop and see cool stuff-the kids have been to the badlands and Mount Rushmore and blue Earth and the ocean and a Mount St Helens in Portland…and this summer we’re going up to WA to whale watch. The sheer stress and logistics of handling it all is so worth it, especially since once we get there the MIL and family cook delicious food and spoil us non stop.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Wow! Okay, you made an RV excursion sound pretty cool…

      • Natasha B

        I was surprised how much I liked it. When we were first looking at them, I was like, um no. I’m a nice hotel airplane kinda girl oooookkkk. But, with kids, it’s easier. They’re comfortable. And when you’re visiting family and you need space, it’s there. And you have a fridge, and bathroom, so picky toddlers have what they need :) plus your own sheets and pillows? Win! We do do weekend trips occasionally like ‘normal” people in hotels, but the RV is def easier lol

      • Bethany Ramos

        Yes. Now this is on my “family forced fun” list!

      • Véronique Houde

        OMG my boyfriend and I DREAM of having an RV road trip with the kids!!! So much easier!!! No potty breaks, you can cook your own meals, and sleep where you drive? I LOVE the idea :)

      • Natasha B

        The cooking/having your own food is a huge plus, the whole diner/pizza hut/gas station snacks gets old realllly fast. We do stop and eat at certain places, but not having to stop for snack breaks constantly or pay $14 for a slice of pizza at the airport is a lifesaver. It’s a lot of fun :) a lot of packing/planning but so worth it.

    • Ally

      We attempted to take a family vacation last summer when our son was 3.5 and daughter was 16 months. We rented a “luxury” cabin at a campground so we would have the amenities we would need to deal with the littles. Well, the luxury cabin provided no substitute for our daughter’s crib – she refused the pack n play and kept us up all night long when we tried to bring her in our bed, which forced me to sleep with her all day to make up for the lost sleep! Hubby and son got to have all the fun while I grew crankier and crankier with my daughter. When she started bawling that night at the idea of a quick shower with us versus a bath (there was no tub), I decided I had enough. Why tough it out for a whole week with this drama when we could go home, take day trips, put the kids to bed early and drink margaritas on the porch? So we bailed on our vacation after 2 days!!! There were a lot of strong negative feelings up front at the “failed” vacation but looking back, I think we were nuts to even attempt it knowing our daughter’s temperament. We’ll try again in a couple of years!

      • Natasha B

        I feel your pain. I commented below we travel in an RV on big vacations, and our toddlers always sleep well in there. But shorter weekend trips where we sleep in a hotel or cabin? Bedtime is a nightmare :(

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