Making the most of your family vacation can seem, well, almost impossible at times. We just got back from a week at Carolina Beach, and while it was a lot of fun, it was also a lot of work!
Listen, I love a good couples’ vacation, and it definitely feels way more like R&R when your hooligans aren’t wearing you down. But we do love taking our kids to the beach each summer, even if it isn’t the most stress-free time.
We’ve learned a lot over the past three summers of beachin’ with our two young kids, so today, I want to share how to make the most of your FAMILY vacation…because sometimes, a couples’ vacay just isn’t gonna happen.
1.Lower your expectations.
No seriously. This isn’t a joke. Before you even leave your house, you need to give yourself the talk. Remind yourself that your kids are coming with you, so there will almost certainly be something that threatens to steal your vacation joy. Prepare for that by lowering your expectations of what this trip will be. If your kids are on the younger side, realize that they won’t have the stamina for all day at the beach or exploring a city for hours on end with no rest. You may need to stop for snacks, naps…just be ready to adjust to keep everyone decently happy.
2. Pick a good location.
At this point in our lives, a beach house a mile from the ocean won’t cut it. We need something oceanfront so that we can traipse back and forth to the beach 4 times a day if we needed to. (Actually, it was twice a day…but you get what I’m sayin’…if we had to go back, we could have. As many times as necessary.) The same goes for any other type of vacation–pick something that works for the ages, temperament and stamina of your kids.
3. Keep a (mostly) regular routine.
I’m not saying you can’t eat ice cream for dinner (we did!) or opt for a walk on the beach that delays bedtime. But if you want your vacation to actually recharge the whole family, you can’t throw routine totally out the window. Our kids need rest–and so we made sure to have fun while keeping quiet time and bedtime pretty much the same as at home. When kids go to bed before they’ve reached mental breakdown status, EVERYONE has a better night!
4. Agree to guilt-free parenting breaks.
Another way to be sure it still feels like vacation even while deep in the throes of parenting is to make sure to get some time for yourself. We decided to use that time for our runs, but no matter what you choose to during your time, just be sure it happens. And both parents should get it–no nagging or guilt-tripping, please!!
Because we’ve learned to embrace a family vacation for what it is–a whole lot of fun and insanity in one!–we had a great trip this year.
We were able to go for a full week, which is something we’d never done before. We got there Sunday evening and didn’t leave til the following Sunday morning. The weather was practically perfect–the weather was a little cooler than it had been (it was about 85 instead of 95+) and most days were sunny. Even the couple cloudy half days we always made it to the beach! The only rain we got was on Saturday morning, so we used that morning for a trip to the aquarium at Fort Fisher.
We were able to find our beach week routine quickly. We would head down to the beach in the morning and stay for a couple hours. Then when it was lunchtime/nap time/quiet time, we left our blanket, chairs and toys right where they were! We came back to the beach somewhere between 3 and 4 to finish out our day. Then it was time for baths and dinner, and every night the four of us crowded into the full-size bed for bedtime stories, devotional and Bible story before we put the kids to bed.
We loved having a 3 bedroom condo this year because 1) my mom and stepdad were able to come for a night and 2) the other nights, both kids had their own rooms and we didn’t have to bunk with either of them!
My mom and stepdad came down on Tuesday and then left around 8 PM on Wednesday.
And one of the coolest things about our trip is that there was a wedding party staying at the same building–and on Wednesday night we got to watch the bride walk down the “aisle” which was really just the building’s beach access, right from our balcony! Harlyn was definitely pumped to see the wedding 🙂
We really, really love going to Carolina Beach and can’t wait to get back there next summer!! It was the perfect last hurrah before school started this week.
And in case you are in need of a mom-friendly swimsuit, be sure to check out THIS blog post!
Or, if you are heading on your own beach trip before summer is over, click HERE for a beach trip packing list!
Do you go on family vacations? Do you stick close to home like us or do you go BIG??