Thursday, September 17, 2015

An Open Letter to My Family About Family Vacations

Dear Family,

As you know, we are packing up our bags again and going to embark on a family vacation.  Yay!  I love to travel so there is a huge part of me that feels giddy with excitement.  I love having new experiences, especially with you guys.  I mean, seeing the world with your favorite people - there is nothing like it!

However, there is a part of me that is feeling a bit of dread creeping in.

Our last getaway, the meltdowns and tears shone a harsh light on your misaligned expectations of a “family” vacation.  I really want to stress that the word “family” is the operative word in that phrase.

A family vacation should not be confused with a vacation that you take by yourself.  Although we do our best to make sure everyone’s needs and wants are met, family vacations are not individualized experiences.

Kids, that means sometimes you will need sit at the breakfast table in a restaurant and be cool while your Dad and I drink a second cup of coffee so that we have enough energy to ensure you both have a fun day. 

Sometimes that means I will have to take you to an arcade, an activity that I would put in the same category as having Pitocin without an epidural (one never forgets that kind of pain.  Ever).

Sometimes that means eating a meal that is comprised out of familiar foods that you eat at home, yet presented in a slightly different way.

On the other side of that, your Dad and I expect to eat a hot dog for dinner at some point although we would much rather enjoy a steak and a glass of wine.

Here’s the thing – we are a family, a team!  We are going out into the world and experience it together as a family.  It will not always be about you and what you want to do.  It will be stepping out of your comfort zone; it will be about compromise.

I hate to drudge up the past, but remember the last time we went to Myrtle Beach? At any given time someone was complaining how salty the ocean tasted or how hot the sun was or how communicating his or her disappointment about the limited screen time or complaining about the complaining. (That last one was me – I’ll totally own it).

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot open letter to my family about family vacations myrtle beach
This is a picture of the three of us (Harrington take the picture) eating breakfast outside because someone (Thomas) wanted to watch TV instead of the ocean.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot open letter to my family about family vacations myrtle beach
We were really mean parents and decided to take our kids to a fun restaurant
that served food that they loved.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot open letter to my family about family vacations myrtle beach
I waited until day 4 out of a 7-day vacation before reining it in.  forced encouraged you both to look for seashells in your pjs before breakfast to remind you
that vacation is when you are supposed try new things. 

Let’s do the direct opposite of that.

This is not exclusively your vacation, but a communal experience.  If you approach this trip with an open heart and embrace the spirit of adventure, the fun factor might be higher than if you are constantly disappointed that all of your individual “wants” are not being met.

But shit is going to happen regardless of all of the hours that I spent planning this trip. 

All I ask of you is to limit yourself to one complete meltdown each. I get it – we all have a breaking point, even me (maybe especially me).  But I will not tolerate any diva bullshit that will derail group morale.

Now let’s go make some magical memories!



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