Vacation is not what it used to be. It used to be an island get away with my wife or a long solo hike in some remote National Park. Vacation was a time for recharging, relaxing and nurturing myself. Not anymore.
As a parent vacation is work. It is taking all the familiar routines and moving them to a new location. It is back-breaking John Henry Paul Bunyan kind of work.
Vacation + Kids = Work
Vacation is packing, list making and preparing provisions. It is loading a cross over full of diaper bags, toys and kids with their electronic distractions. It is like preparing for the Oregon trail.
I got the above list from the Intentional Mom. This is a great blog on intentional parenting. I have to say this is pretty spot on.
We pack a covered wagon to head out for the great west but we forget essential items like weapons for protection. The enemy is not outside the covered walls of the wagon. The enemy is within, they don’t bring bows and arrows they bring soiled diapers and screams. They will break you down with constant questions and pesky interruptions. So roll your sleeves up, put in your headphones and grip that steering wheel until your knuckles turn white. There is no rest for the weary.
Vacation + Kids = Sleep Deprivation
Vacationing with kids is exhausting. It is akin to preparing for the special forces. You will be deprived of sleep. When we travel adjusting to time zone differences is always a battle. The voice in the back of my head keeps muttering…”Welcome to hell week.” What is hell week? Hell week is defined as follows
Hell Week is the defining event of Seal training. It is held early on – in the 3rd week of First Phase – before the Navy makes an expensive investment in SEAL operational training. Hell Week consists of 5 1/2 days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep.
Sound familiar? As a parent it should. Just because our kids wake up at 6am EDT at home that doesn’t mean we are afforded that luxury when laying our heads down in other time zones.
Late night hangouts with family and early morning wake up calls are enough to test any dad’s stamina. And while operating under severe sleep deprivation is a hallmark of elite training that is where the similarities stop. So, how is it different?
One, it is not a drill sergeant waking you every morning to a bull horn. It is your 3-year-old son sneaking into your room and creepily whispering in your ear repeatedly, “Daddy you awake. Daddy you wake up? Daddy I go potty.” It is a sensation altogether spooky, a mix of the Sixth Sense and Children of the Corn.
Two, it is not climbing over high ropes courses and doing PT until you die. It is attempting to fight off the hang over resulting from 3 hours of sleep and 2 drinks (It doesn’t take much on short rest). You knew you shouldn’t have stayed up past 10 talking to your brother in-laws about how your fantasy leagues are performing. Now you will pay for it.
Vacation + Kids = -Intellectual Growth
I remember when vacation was a time to catch up on business books, classic literature, or just the news. It was a time to nurture my curious mind and become more cultured.
Now trying to do any reading is like trying to fly a kite in a hurricane. Reading consists of flipping through celebrity magazines, speed scanning the pictures, and creating stories for myself about what is happening. Put that book down! Because the only thing you’ll be reading is the label on the back of a sunscreen bottle. Is this SPF +15 or SPF +25?
Vacationing with kids is a great reminder of the selflessness that parenting requires. Vacationing with kids is challenging and it makes me feel I am a glutton for punishment. But, I will push through the pain. The pain is worth it as one day we will look back on the stories we made and the time we had. Each vacation adds to this story. The story is still being written and it only gets better with each page turn.