We’re 4 weeks away from closing on our house, and we still aren’t sure where we’re living yet. (We’re fine, everything is totally fine. Eeek!) Things feel a little upside down right now. Packing up all of your things and keeping it cool for your kids while you pack and house hunt isn’t super easy.
But, I’ll tell you what is easy.
Packing up your swimsuits and sunscreen and heading to your favorite place ever for the 4 weeks post the most stressful time of your life. That’s right folks, we might not know where we’ll living but we sure as shit know where we’re going next. Lake Chelan, baby! This is hands down, one of the most special places for us and we figured why not take a little breather and ground ourselves before making our way to a new, more permanent neighborhood (we hope). I
We go to Lake Chelan multiple times a year, so you’ve surely seen me share pictures of our time there over the last several years. We were last there over New Year’s and were there a couple of different times last summer. It’s about 4 hours away from where we live now, and the perfect place to take a deep breath. Lucky for us, we’ll have friends visiting us there just a week or so after we get there, and then my mom will join us the second two weeks. That half was actually planned by her months ago, and we decided to add onto the front end of the month when we knew when we’d be closing on our house.
I’ve shared a bit about this in the past re: vacationing with kids. While this is more of an extended stay in a favorite place that needs to feel a bit like a pit-stop home, I’m still thinking about it like a vacation. These are opportunities for great memories. There’s no doubt we are going to see additional peaks of stress as we get closer to saying goodbye to our house. Preparing for this time together before more change is something I know I won’t regret.
Here’s how I usually mentally prepare for time away with the kids, with the intentions of making the most of the time away.
EXPECT CHAOS AND STRESS
Just because you’re going somewhere you love that costs a load of money, absolutely doesn’t mean you’re walking into a stress free environment. It’s only natural to have super high expectations that while on vacation everyone should be having a damn good time, all the time. You just spent your savings on a trip. Your little people should appreciate every second, right?! Wrong. They just won’t. And that’s OK. It’s going to be nuts sometimes, there’s an adjustment period, the kids are going to have their moments, and you’re still going to want to hide in a closet with a gallon of ice cream while in paradise. Once you come to terms with the fact that there will be some lows on the trip, it makes it a little easier to take some of the pressure off and go into it with a more realistic outlook on how it will go.
SET GOALS & INTENTIONS
When we go into time away with our family, Ty and I always have a little chat before we leave. We talk through what we want out of the trip, and what we might need personally in order to show up as the best versions of ourselves while there. We spend time talking about how we want to feel when the trip is over and we’re in the car heading home. Visualizing the outcome of our time away is incredibly powerful. Imagining the feelings of accomplishment of another successful vacation with the kids in the books, more memories made, and a true sense of wishing we could do it all over again are typical sentiments we hit on. I’ll usually share a few things I want to prioritize when we’re gone (a few fave dinner or lunch spots we want to hit up, time with each of the kids one on one, walking through town one night after dinner, etc.). We keep the list of goals short, realistic, and do-able. That helps too.
BUILD IN BREAKS
It’s common to feel like while on vacation you should be going all the places and seeing all the things. That could totally work for a certain personality type, but the odds of a family of 5 being game for go-go-go is slim to none. At least around here. We build in lots of breaks and work to avoid biting off too much while we’re on vacation – so it feels like a vacation and not a to-do list. If we have a slower morning, we’ll usually decide to pack fun into the evening and vice versa. We also have a mandatory quiet time thanks to Shelby’s mid-day nap and that helps to break the day up for all of us. The truth is, we all need the down time and we’re better when we take advantage of it too.
If you can, try to pull in elements of your home routine when you’re on vacation especially in the first few days. It can be as simple as sticking to the nap schedule for your youngest. For us, we think of those first few days, or all, a bit like our weekends. Usually on our weekends Ty takes the kids out just the four of them. Usually for a walk to a close park, the lake, or into town for donuts. This gives me time in the AM to do my thing. “My thing” is either working, getting ready, or getting us organized for the day. By 10AM, we’re ready to hit the pool until lunch time. We have our down time 1:30-3:30 most days, and then we go where the wind takes us until about 8pm when we wind down for the night. Kids will do a night swim after dinner, and usually cuddle on the couch for a movie before bed. Ty wrap up the day together by around 11, usually recapping what went well and what could go better the next day starts again.
If there is one thing that throws me off completely, it’s packing badly. I’m on deck for packing the kids and I while Ty packs himself, the dog, kids shoe options, water bottles, food, booze, and all of the essentials for the weather. I try to have a system when packing us all that it involves each of our duffles on the bed, and then I pack up by category: undies, socks, jammies, tops, bottoms, swim stuff. I won’t move onto another category until I know each of us is covered. I also try to bring in a few elements of home that help bring comfort for all of us when we’re gone. Music (Alexa or Bose) and sound machines are the big ones there. Kids get to put whatever their bag has room for once I’m done, and they’ll usually sneak in a backpack of more things to have on the ride.
Maybe these will help you prepare for a vacation with kids. For the pros: what would you add as helpful tips for those of us doing our best to make the most of trips with kids?!