This is the integral of a guest blog post by Vee featured on Mommyish.com.
We did it! We successfully managed to go on a 10-hour road trip to the ocean with 4 – yes, that’s right, 4 kids under the age of 10! And they say it can’t be done… pfff! Well, it definitely can, and it can even be restful. But, I have to admit that bringing so many kids on vacation requires a certain amount of planning and reflecting on what is and isn’t important …
We have been hosting my boyfriend’s family now for three weeks. 4 adults and 3 kids came off that plane. My nephew is almost 9, my niece is 3, and their cousin is almost 2. Combine that with my 9-month old daughter, that’s a lot of food to buy, big cars to rent, car seats to find, diapers to change and activities to plan!!!
After having spent a week showing them our beautiful city, we decided to go 10 hours away to Percé, Québec. And boy, did we learn a lot about vacationing with kids! Here are few gems that you might want to keep in mind next time you decide to get out there!
1- When jetlagged, kids are jerks.
DON’T. Just don’t plan too many activities those first days. If you think that you can be moody when you’re trying to adjust to life in another part of the world, imagine what it’s like for your two and three year olds. Although you might be super excited about getting out on the town and see what’s out there, take it easy – for your own sake! Your sanity will thank you.
After repeated marathon tantrums, I have understood that those first two or three days can be spent doing groceries, letting the kids play at the park, sightseeing for only a few hours, and going to bed early. Keeping as close as possible to your home routine is super important…
2- If you haven’t started disciplining your kids before going on vacation, you’re basically doomed.
I prefer warning you in advance: the tears will be coming out of your own eyes as well as your kids.
Let’s be honest. We all work too much. We come home and feel guilty for not spending enough time with our kids. So maybe we cut a few corners while we’re at home. We try to placate our kids instead of addressing their tantrums because we’re just too damn tired. We just want to enjoy our time with our toddlers, so we give in a little. Then we give in a lot.
And then we go on vacation…
Remember how kids can be huge jerks when jetlagged? If they’ve never really been disciplined before your vacation, you can bet your vacation spending money that it will be an uphill battle to get that behavior in check while your kid is cranky, overtired, completely disoriented and hungry. Unfortunately, you can’t really get around NOT disciplining your kids while on vacation because not disciplining them while on a boat or in a bus might involve them dying a painful death when they feel like sticking their entire bodies out of the vehicle.
3- If a kid is being a jerk and that kid is not your own child, help the parents out!
You’d be surprised how effective it can be to discipline another kid’s child! I know, I know, it can be awkward to think about having to be firm with someone who’s not your kid. You might want to run it by his or her mom and dad first. But when mom and dad are exhausted and frustrated that their toddler just won’t listen, it might be really awesome for them if you to step in and take a load off of their shoulders.
Of course, it might be best to stick to the form of disciplining that they themselves use. I definitely won’t want you spanking a kid that doesn’t belong to you! Well, if you do, just don’t blame it on me! But, at the end of the day, you’d be surprised at how fast a toddler will stop his or her bad behavior when someone they don’t know as well as their parents grabs them and takes them out of the heated situation. Unpredictability works wonders. And trust me, when a toddler knows that all of the adults will keep them in check, they’re less likely to act out.
4- Sugar is my vacation nemesis.
Step away from the chocolate. Or maybe, just don’t feed it to your kids for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. True story, bro’. I was absolutely stunned at my nieces’ diet this past vacation. After Quick cereal as a starter, Nutella on a bagel as a second course, chocolate covered cookies as a main course, chocolate milk to rinse it all down, and two spoonfulls of Nutella as a dessert (and this was just at breakfast!), these awesome and adorable little girls were doomed to experience the most intense sugar crashes about three hours later. Which is NOT a good idea when you’ve decided to go on a hike on a remote island when you can’t exactly put them in their room if they’re misbehaving because they’ve overtired.
And then, if they are overtired, cranky and tantrumy, don’t feed them chocolate covered cookies to fill up their bellies until the next meal, which will most likely consist of pogos, French fries, soda and chocolate ice cream (and these people are French!!! I thought this madness only existed on the American continent).
You get the pattern. It’s just a bad idea. Even if they don’t usually eat as much sugar in their day-to-day lives and you feel like letting them enjoy it a bit for once, you might want to continue using moderation when it comes to the chocolate.
5- Someone is bound to get seriously hurt.
It’s one of those facts of life. When travelling in a large group, anticipate someone doing something super stupid and getting badly hurt. Bring a first aid kit. And some Tylenol. And perhaps a lot of alcohol.
This time around, I’m the idiot who decided that it would be an awesome idea to get into a bike accident because I was trying to catch the bike ferry. It’s actually a boring story – when people ask me why I look like I’ve been fighting in a boxing ring, I’ve actually started telling them that I had a parachuting accident in order to make myself look a lot cooler than I actually am.
In the end, I didn’t need to go to the hospital, thank god! But I did crack a rib, which means that the rest of my vacation, I had to take it a little bit easier. It’s better to laugh than cry, really…
But then again, maybe it was a good thing that I got hurt while there were another 5 adults to help out with my baby… Good to know, if ever I plan on throwing myself down a concrete staircase!
6- Baby Mummums are awesome for car rides when your infant is super done with being in that freakin’ car seat. But please, remember to pack the prune juice too.
Baby Mummums are awesome. They’ve saved my life a few times when my baby was on the edge of a huge meltdown. Pop one of those in their mouths, and you’re guaranteed another 15 minutes minimum of peace and quiet and all around happiness. But remember guys – rice leads to constipation. Constipation on a vacation sucks. And then trying to find a big enough grocery store when you’re in the middle of butt fuck nowhere 7 hours into your trip so that you can pick up some prune juice to relieve that constipation isn’t what I would call an awesome adventure. You might want to pack both the crackers and the juice just in case ;).
7- You will end up listening to a song you hate for over 2 hours while on the road.
You might want to pack some earphones for your other adult passengers in this case. At the end of the day, I would prefer listening to A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes two hours nonstop than listening to my 9 month old shriek and scream. But I understand that my brother-in-law might get sick of it after the 5th rendition and would prefer to stay on the side of the road in said buttfuck nowhere than continue to listen to that monstrosity of evil that is a Disney song… Since you can’t pour him a glass of beer while sitting in a motor vehicle, give him some earphones.
Let’s face it. Vacationing with 4 kids isn’t the same as going on a trip with your husband. You might feel as though it’s not worth the effort… Personally, being able to see the wonder and excitement in the kids’ eyes at being in a completely different part of the world is worth it. They might not remember it later on, but it will leave its mark on them. The more you get out there, the more your child will learn and grow and become an awesomely well-rounded human being. The pictures and the memories, the laughter and the silliness are totally worth the tantrums and the constipation. So get out there guys!!!
Photo credit: Etsy – Lenny’s Mugs