Not every vacation with little kids is relaxing, but this is how my family found a happy medium between 'me-time' and 'we-time.'

By Liz Vaccariello
Updated: October 02, 2018
Courtesy of Liz Vaccariello

My girls were 4 before Steve and I mustered the courage—and the coin—for a trip to a tropical resort. (I was still traumatized by their first flight the previous year to visit family. Picture us in the back row during the three-hour weather delay.)

We splurged on an all-inclusive Club Med resort in Punta Cana for its direct flight from New Jersey and for its world-renowned children’s program. They even had a circus school!

On the first day, we left Sophia and Olivia at “camp” with swimsuits, hats, and sunscreen. The French-owned company calls its counselors G.Os (short for Gentil Organisateurs). When I saw them pushing dozens of babies in strollers, I thought, Oh good, we’re not the only ones who need time alone.

Steve and I ate lunch. We had a conversation. I took a yoga class. Bliss.

Then I heard young voices singing French nursery rhymes and saw a train of toddlers. My mental mom script kicked in: Why were there more babies than toddlers at camp? Because some parents decided to be with their kids, Liz.

I tried to focus. I finished a chapter in my book. We played cards. The girls were thrilled to see us when we picked them up at 6 p.m., and I even had the energy to make up a stargazing game before bed.

On Day 2, I saw them each holding a G.O’s hand, heading somewhere. I turned to Steve: “Let’s follow them. But careful they don’t see us!”

We dashed from hiding place to hiding place and peeked at them in the pool. We followed them to circus time and crouched behind a bush. They waited for a turn on the trampoline, looking bored. Aren’t they having fun?

Steve, who often knows what I want before I do, said, “Let’s take them out.” When I’m at work, I feel guilty for not being at home. When I’m at home, I feel guilty for not being at work. On vacation, I needed to find a happy medium we all felt good about.

The happy medium turned out to be five full days of together time. Did I read my book? Nope. Did my back hurt from chasing little ones at the beach? You betcha. But I was there for the sand castles, and we napped on our towels.

It was the best of both worlds, and there was no right or wrong way to feel about it.

Happily tired during our family vacation to the Dominican Republic.

Vacations as Educations!

What a difference a decade makes: Here’s our recent “zoo camp” experience this summer at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

My girls’ reactions during our tour of the animal hospital were priceless! The access is part of the Ultimate Trainer for a Day program.

We snorkeled our way through Ruins Lagoon in Dolphin Cay, surrounded by rays, sharks, and tropical fish.

Sophia holds a sea turtle—what a thrill! In a new program at Atlantis, your fam can help guide hatchlings to sea.

Follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes fun: @LizVaccariello

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