Wednesday, August 07, 2013


We have been blessed out of our minds in the last few weeks to go on some great trips, first to Branson, then to St. Louis.  We have done a lot of fun things.  We have seen new stuff.  We have had great experiences.  We have met up with family.  We have cleared our minds a bit from the normal day to day that can push in from all sides.  All of that said, I could not exactly say that we were able to "relax," per se.


I realize that this is a totally first world problem.  But, I've got to call it like it is - a trip with kiddos in tow no longer qualifies as an actual "vacation" in our world.  It is now known as a "family trip."  We first learned of this phenomenon when we went to Canada a couple of years ago.  We realized that trips were forever changed.  Gone were the days of carefree ease.  Instead, the reality of parenting follows you wherever you go.

Here's a rundown of some key differences.

Vacation:  When packing for a vacation, you only have to pack yourself.  You choose outfits that are appropriate for many different types of activities and settings, and you plan to look cute much of the time, since you will have time to get ready.

Family Trip:  Packing starts days in advance and usually involves setting out different piles all over the commandeered dining room table.  It involves remembering things like bottle brushes and hair rubber bands and baby shampoo.  The gear required at this stage in the game is pretty legendary.  Whatever you pack for yourself is an afterthought, because you do it last, after the kids are asleep, since you can no longer get into their rooms and rummage around for more stuff.

Vacation: Eating meals out is a treat to be relished, and looking for food unique to the area is part of the fun and integral to the itinerary.

Family Trip:  Meals out are designed around factors such as - What kind of kid's meals will they offer?  Do they have a playland?  Is there a drive-thru so we don't have to all go inside?  In St. Louis, we ate terribly, which is a crying shame, cause I am sure there are delightfully cool restaurants that we missed out on.  But taking the "Party of Six, Two adults, four children, and could we get two slings?" party to a restaurant is just less fun and more work.

Vacation:  There is a lot of sleep.  Sleeping in and resting up are part of what you make time for.  You can stay out a little later, because in the morning, you can keep the black out shades shut and pretend nothing else exists in the world.

Family Trip:  There is much less sleep.  Little people rise early - especially when sleeping in strange places.  Add some young babies to the mix, and you are guaranteed to get up several times a night.  Hurray!  Exhaustion is on the menu.

Vacation:  The things you choose to do are based on your own preferences.  Like - touring a brewery or riding on a Segway or taking a hot air balloon ride or renting a convertible or going kayaking.  The list goes on and on.

Family Trip:  The activities you choose largely revolve around what will appeal to your children - or at least - what will still be fun for you to do while your children are with you.  This does leave a lot of activities on the table that are enjoyable, but the filter is totally different.  While visiting the Magic House Children's Museum in St. Louis was perfect for the girls, John and I probably could have skipped the massive crowds and slept a lot more.

Vacation:  You listen to music.  That you pick out.  And enjoy.  You are not likely to be caught humming Disney tunes.

Family Trip:  You listen to movies.  Often times the same movies on repeat as your kids get on certain kicks.  We heard Lady and the Tramp 3 times on this trip alone, and whatever happens to the beaver in the river makes the girls laugh harder than anything imaginable.  Every. Single. Time.

Vacation:  As you travel around a previously unexplored place, you get to take a deep breath and take in the sights.  You blossom under the influence of the newness and excitement.

Family Trip:  On a family trip to a new place, it is like having a flip book where four out of every five pages have been ripped out (likely by Bella), and those four pages were replaced by screaming cries from the back of the mini-van.  Cries for drinks!  Cries for snacks!  Cries for more movies!  I'm not really sure what all we missed while driving through St. Louis, but I am sure it was a lot.

Vacation:  There is a 90% chance, at least, that "romance" will be involved.

Family Trip:  There is a 90% chance, at least, that "romance" will be traded in for snot, dirty diapers and leaky sippy cups.

Vacation:  When you get back from a vacation, you feel well-rested.  Like you got a break from reality.  Like you took a vacation.

Family Trip:  When you get back, there is a lot of laundry.  You got slightly less sleep than you would at home and much of your reality followed you around and asked you how long it would take to get to the next place.

Vacation:  You see life through your same old rusty eyes.  You talk about how cute your kids are, especially since they are not with you.  By the very end, you might miss your kids a tiny bit.

Family Trip:  Everything takes on a new joy and thrill as you see it through the freshness and innocence of a child's eyes.  And you spend time together.  You make memories that are worth making and having.  There is a lot of love amidst it all.

As we were driving home yesterday, John and I talked about how different our time would have been in St. Louis without the kiddos.  But, then we circled back around to the fact that most likely, we will have time for that later on.  Right now is the time for family trips, and we certainly want to live them up.  That doesn't mean we won't take a vacation every now and again (I hope), but sharing life with our children while they want to be with us is certainly a privilege.

So that's our list.  Can you think of anything other differences?


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