Seven Signs You’ve Just Survived a “Vacation” with Kids


Ah, summertime. For some of us, this lovely season brings the annual beach vacation. It’s the week we daydream about during the rest of the year. . . our toes in the sand, cold cocktail in hand, listening to the lapping waves of the ocean as we drift off into a restful nap in paradise.

Oh, wait. That was before the kids. 

Vacation with kids is a different ballgame. Our toes are still in the sand. But, the sand is also in our swimsuits, in our toddler’s eyes, and in the baby’s mouth. We still have the cocktail, but we might only get to have one sip before running after the little ones, and by the time we return it’s too hot to enjoy. We still listen to the ocean waves, but now we’ve got some screaming young’uns in the background. And a nap? Please. I guess we nap during the night, since our kids are so out of whack from their regular routines that they only want to sleep in short intervals.

My family just returned from our annual beach vacay in South Carolina. We’ve been going to the same place since around 2006, and it’s always been my favorite week of the year. I always heard that a vacation with kids was different—that it’s not really a vacation—but I didn’t realize the painful accuracy of that statement until this summer.

Here are seven signs that might indicate you’ve just wrapped up such a “vacation”:

  1. During the 11-hour car ride home (no joke; I can only pray you don’t have such a long trek), your husband admonishes you for calling your 2 year old a jerk. To her face. In my defense, she flat out refused to share any of her 2,827 toys with her 11-month-old sister, who wailed in response for no less than 2.5 hours. (I did apologize later.)
  2. You’re the most excited you’ve been since all the laundry was clean (which was probably 2014) when you pull into your driveway FINALLY! Our destination!! Then you realize, in your excitement to leave home 11 days earlier, you forgot the house key. And you’re locked out. (Thank you to my dear friend for feeding the cat and bringing our key in our time of need. If I had to get back in that car for any length of time, I don’t want to think about the outcome.)
  3. After getting the kids bathed and to bed, you practically sprint to the shower to relax before jumping in your own bed. But then, right as you turn on that glorious hot water to wash off the draining day of travel, you remember, “we still have to clean out the car.”
  4. You yell, “we will never make this trip again!” at your husband no less than 10 times while unloading swim floats, suitcases, and beach chairs. He rolls his eyes each time.
  5. You are SO thankful that, despite the challenging day in the car to return home, you made the drive on a Saturday, giving you Sunday as a full day of rest before really going back to reality. Haha! Right. The kids get up at dawn, and don’t understand why we can’t walk out the back door and go see the ocean. They’re crabby. They’re clingy. And you are exhausted.
  6. You finally, FINALLY realize the meaning of the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation.”
  7. Through your blurry eyes the night after the return, you start to flip through the photos on your phone. You smile as you see the pure, unbridled joy on your kids’ faces as they swam, built sand castles, chased seagulls, and laughed with other members of the family. In a moment, all the stress is gone. And you can’t wait for next year. Maybe when the kids are a little older, it’ll be more relaxing. Right?

So. . . how was your vacation with kids??


This post was originally published on July 28.2017.
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A North Carolina native, Jennifer has called Colorado Springs, CO, Lynchburg, VA, New Orleans, LA, and Charleston, SC home since graduating from Elon University in 2003. She has spent time as a journalist, event planner, and sports information director. Now, the Hoover resident is a full-time sales & marketing professional for an outdoor furniture company and an independent rep for Zyia Active. Of all the hats Jennifer wears, her most important roles are as a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. She has been married to her husband Mike since 2011, and together they have three daughters ages 5, 4 and 2, and a sweet eight-year-old beagle, Cooper.


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