Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Family Summer Beach Vacation Summed Up in 10 Phases

I just returned from my family beach vacation in Myrtle Beach with the kids, the husband, and my parents.  The good times were the best!  The not so good times, well, I believe I said it best in this Instagram photo: 

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

Having said that, I present to you the Phases of My Summer Family Beach Vacation.

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

The Planning Phase

This phase was done in the dead of winter.  I found a place at Ocean Creek Plantation, the same place I went to as a kid, and booked it on the 27th snow day in January.

I knew that we were going to have the best family beach vacation in the history of family vacations.  I pictured Harrington, the kids, and my parents playing on the beach, laughing and having fun. 

Kind of like when Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation when he was dreaming of installing his in-ground pool and the amazing time his family was going to have.

The Payment Phase

This is when all the money is due.  Gulp. There is no turning back.

We *will* have the Best! Vacation! Ever!

The Laundry Phase

Staying on top of the laundry on a regular week is hard enough, let alone packing for a vacation. 

I considered packing dirty clothes. 

The Packing Phase

The commencement of this phase signified the completion of The Laundry Phase.  The elation was brief as I contemplated how to fit all of those clothes into a carryon due to my self-imposed “no checking of the bags” rule.

My triumphant moment of packing the kids’ and my clothes into a single carry-on occurred in the wee hours of the night before we departed.  I celebrated with wine and slept for 4 ½ blissful hours.

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

The Travel Phase

Yay!  It’s finally happening!  

As we manage our four carry-ons plus four personal items plus two car seats, feelings of excitement quickly turn to feelings of concern: is it possible that we are this close and won’t be allowed on the plane with all of these bags?  Or worse yet, forced to check a bag? 

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

My concerns about one of the kids having a meltdown shift to my concerns about me having a meltdown.

The Beginning Phase of Vacation

I am here!  I am finally at the beach!!  I am so happy!!  Everyone is happy!

For a brief moment.

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

The Despair Phase

As we settled into our daily beach routine, Thomas acted like I was torturing him by depriving him of his iPad.

The withdrawal of technology combined with Thomas’s hatred of doing new things (unless they are his idea) made me feel like a horrible parent.  How could I be raising a child like this? 

Blue Moon and Kleenex, you may have seen a surge in your sales. 

You’re welcome.

Take Control Phase

I needed to regain control of this family fun vacation ASAP.  Luckily this is when I stumbled across Wendi Aaron’s Facebook status update about her post on summer camps we wished existed.  Too Much Mouse in the House Camp scared them both to tears.  I told them there was one about Quitting Screen Time.  I had never seen such terror in their eyes, not even that one time when they googled “Is Blood Mary real?” and found scary videos that gave them nightmares for months.

I do not usually advocate parenting by fear, but I seized this moment to put our fun family vacation back on track. 

The next morning, we went to the beach in our jammies and find seashells.  

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

No one complained about lack of screen time or wanting to watch The Disney Channel.



The Acceptance Phase

This family fun beach vacation is clearly not going as planned.

I accept that I need to manage my expectation.

I accept that Thomas can’t hack it all day at the beach.  I also accept that Marie can spend all day at the ocean, but her fair skin cannot. 

I accept my parenting mistakes.

I accept that traveling with kids is hard.  So very hard.  So hard it brought me to tears several times.  But I love to travel; it does something magical to my soul, and I want to instill that love into my kids.  So I accept the hardships because I have faith that it will get easier and more fun the more times we travel together.

The Mourning Phase

The bad parts of the trip begin to fade from my memory, and I felt sad that it is over. 

Despite all the drama, I was grateful to connect with my kids in a way that is difficult to do at home with the distractions of daily life and thankful for the time I spent with my parents.

I wanted to keep that part of vacation, so I started making promises to myself.

I promise not to get lost in laundry. I promise no to get lost in the buzzing of work emergencies.  I promise to parent more mindfully.

Most of all, I promise to get a handle on our freewheeling screen time.

I promise to travel again with the kids.

mommy on the spot myrtle beach family summer beach vacation

What are your family vacations like?  Please share your real moments in the comments so I feel less alone about the chaos.



Kristy Olendorf said...

This rang so true. I couldn't wait to read it, as I knew it was coming~ and it didn't disappoint!

I laughed out loud at several points, and shed a tear at my own feelings of mourning; the dashed expectations, not being able to share the soul singing excitement and newness of travel, thinking "who are these people!" and feeling like I just can't relate to my kids. I have collected so many of these experiences, and it feels strangely selfish to enjoy your story!

Why does no one warn us about these parenting pitfalls? It seems like something our mothers would have mentioned while seeing us prepare and plan such trips. Are our kids so different to parent than we were?

Your story will be a comfort and hopefully a cautious tale to others about setting expectations, being able to roll with changes in the plan, and accepting that maybe what brings us the MOST joy, isn't always what floats others' boat. (I still can't comprehend this one at times!)

As I draw closer to the end of my "child" parenting, I have seen glimmers of what I have instilled in my kids. One will suggest a picnic, and try to convince me to take the afternoon off by painting a picture perfect scene of how it will go, just as I would have imagined it. One will suddenly announce his longing for our screen-less cabin up north. He could have had the house to himself, but asked off work to go with us. These glimmers suggest that maybe my kids do have the same open-minded love for adventure that I have tried (tirelessly) to give them.

I enjoyed this so much, thank you!

Jane Fox said...

You're bringing up memories of all my family vacations when I was young! There was definitely a lot of squabbling between us kids, but ultimately I think we usually had a good time. We never made it to Myrtle Beach, but I'm planning on getting out there this fall. It seems like a long overdue trip. Is there anything specific I should check out while I'm there?

Erin Janda Rawlings said...

Hi, Jane!

I just saw this comment, and the only thing I would recommend packing is sunblock!

But even if you forget that, there are plenty of stores to find it.

Be sure to check out Barefoot Landing. We love that place!

Stephanie Butler said...

What a wonderful experience you would have when you had a beach vacation.

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It looks amazing family tour,

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