Summer Vacation With Small Children

By: Katie Kuenkel Email
By: Katie Kuenkel Email

To many people, the thought of bringing four children under the age of 9 on a cross-country vacation might seem a bit insane. I admit, at first I thought it was a little crazy myself. What kind of a “vacation” would that be for me?! I closed my eyes and pictured the amount of luggage I’d have to pack ahead of time…while being careful not to forget someone’s underwear, toothbrush, or heaven-forbid their favorite stuffed animal that they MUST sleep with every night or NO ONE will get any sleep…..hauling two car seats and two 2-year-old twins in a double-stroller through the airport….while being careful not to lose my six- and eight-year-old son and daughter in the process, as they can get easily distracted by the endless airport shops, restaurants, escalators, and moving walkways to watch along the way…..and then enduring a 3 ½ hour plane ride with four highly energetic children who can’t WAIT to get to our destination! Oh, and let’s not forget changing diapers in an ever-so-cozy airplane bathroom. Hmmm….a “vacation?” Is that the right word? I am starting to feel a little like the Griswold family and this is the start of another National Lampoon movie. :)

I must admit, I sometimes envy the couples who are able to leave their children with grandma and grandpa for a week so that they can go on a romantic cruise or Hawaiian vacation together…just the two of them...no noise, no chaos. Just pure relaxation. I picture sitting on the beach, my feet in the soft, white sand, with a fruity umbrella drink in hand, listening to nothing but the lapping of ocean waves onto the shore and the occasional call of a nearby seagull. Ahhh….pure heaven.

But then, I think about how I’d be missing out on some of the things my kids have taught me to appreciate when we go on a family vacation together. They have taught me to how to have fun and enjoy some of the simple pleasures along the way. I’ve experienced things I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t brought them along….things only a child would appreciate.

They have shown me how much fun it is to chase after those little green lizardy-looking things (geckos) in Florida..and even more fun to catch them (but be careful, because apparently their tails can break off rather easily!) They have shown me how much fun the all-you-can-eat pizza-for $5- buffets are…especially when they have macaroni and cheese pizza. They have shown me how there’s nothing better than jumping in ocean waves that are bigger than you are or digging a hole in the sand that’s as deep as you are. And how exciting it is to walk back and forth on the beach for hours in hopes to find that one special seashell….and giggle with laughter when one still has a living creature inside! They made me appreciate that we don’t have to be constantly spending money on vacation in order to have fun…that sometimes just playing at a nearby park together, swimming in the pool together, or going on a nature walk together is just fine. Especially since we’re all doing it together.

My husband and I have the rest of our lives to go on a “couples” vacation. It will give us something fun to do after our children are gone and we are a happily married retired couple. :) We can travel the country visiting our children and grandchildren. But for now, I want to live in the moment and share all these wonderful journeys with my children…no matter how much WORK they may be! The adventures may not be relaxing, but I would not trade the memories we’ve created for anything else in the world.


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