Vacations aren't really vacations once you have children. One mom recently learned this, and other parents on Reddit had an overwhelmingly similar response for her: "Welcome to the club!"

By Beth Ann Mayer
July 15, 2021
Advertisement

Remember the days when vacations involved sitting beachside with a fruity cocktail in hand? After relaxing, you'd head to a massage bed for some TLC. Finally, you'd indulge in a five-star, four-course meal and retire to your comfortable bed for 10 hours of sweet slumber.

Yeah, those were the years—B.C. (before children). One parent recently came to this realization while on a "vacation" with her family, and posted about it on Reddit.

"I just realized vacation with kids is not a vacation for parents," u/opygroundbreaking11 wrote in the Parenting subreddit. "It's two separate things. I'm exhausted. Taking care of my kid on vacation away from her toys and stuff means I am her toy. I know there's a lot of stuff to do, but honestly, I don't find the same stuff amusing as kids do, and I'm sure vice versa."

The parent knows hotels offer childcare, but it's just not the same as pre-kid vacations.

"[I'm] just realizing it took me this long to take my rose-colored glasses off and realize planning a vacation and paying for a vacation is filling my child's glass but not mine," the parent wrote. "Anyone just realizing this too?"

The comments were full of parents who could absolutely relate and had some words of wisdom for the poster. For example, reframing vacations by calling them something else was a common theme.

"It's called a trip once you have children," said one person. "I heard someone call a vacation with kids a 'business trip,' and that's what I'm going with," another astute commenter concurred. "I have a coworker who refuses to call them vacations and instead calls them 'family adventures' in order to set her mind to the right expectations," said someone else.

But though it's stressful—and parents have a right to their feelings—some posters tried to point out the positives of vacations (er, trips) with children,

"One of the plusses of parenting is that it's fun and memorable to watch your kid have fun, even if the thing they are having fun doing is not fun for you personally. My kids don't remember the trip we took to [Walt Disney World] when they were 3, but I do. It was exhausting and stressful, but I have good memories from it and that particular period in their lives," one Redditor responded.

"Watching my children have fun brings me so much more joy than anything I would do for myself. My oldest is almost 2, and seeing him run around on a playground or splash in the waves at the beach makes me so happy," said another.

Like many aspects of parenting, family adventures can be equal parts stressful and wonderful. To tip the scales more towards "wonderful," experts recommend these strategies:

  • Take it slow and accept reality. Family trips aren't going to be the same as the vacations you took before having kids, and trying to cram two weeks' worth of activities into one week can be stressful and overstimulating for children. Pare down your itinerary and embrace the opportunity to really get to see a few places with your child rather than an entire state or country.
  • Hire a babysitter. If you can swing it, bringing a babysitter along for the ride will allow you to take a break and allot time for some adults-only activities.
  • Go easy on the rules. It's OK if bedtime gets pushed back a little or if you have ice cream for dinner. It's supposed to be a break from the norm, after all.

.