Feeling more stressed than relaxed on your family’s summer vacation? Here are 5 things I stopped stressing about to enjoy myself more on our trips.
Travel with little kids is never easy, but you deserve to relax and enjoy yourself as a mom, too!
Family summer vacations used to be one single thing for me: Stressful beyond measure.
I had all these expectations for our trip, for my kids’ behavior and for their vacation sleep schedule (hahahaha!).
And without fail, I’d end up disappointed and stressed out because I wanted to live up to my own imagination.
But then I realized… While some expectations are fine, I really had to lower my standards if I wanted to have happy vacation memories.
Like, I actually look forward to our summer trips now.
It doesn’t mean I gave up (there’s a huge difference between giving up and lowering your expectations!). It just means I cut myself and my family some slack in a few departments, and now our trips are all the better for it.
5 Things I Stopped Stressing About on Summer Vacation
If my kids stay on their sleep schedule
Let me preface this with sharing that neither of my kids are the soundest sleepers in the world.
But with the arrival of my second baby two years ago, I had them both on the same afternoon nap time and bedtime from day one.
It was probably the best thing I ever did for my own sanity, and to this day we have kept both times intact, even though they no longer nap after lunch but play together in their rooms for an hour or two.
But… On vacation?
Sticking to a sleep schedule has always been more frustrating than relaxing.
Our summer trips are to hot destinations on the beach, lunch and dinner are usually later than they are at home and we can’t leave the house until 4pm because it’s just too hot outside.
It’s so different from our usual routine at home that I decided there’s just no room for their usual sleep schedule, either.
They nap when they’re tired, they go to bed when all the cousins go to bed and they get up whenever they wake.
Sometimes this backfires (like last night when my 2 year old went to bed at 10pm, woke up a bunch of times during the night and then had to poop at 6am without going back to sleep. I’m very caffeinated, thanks for asking.)
But usually it keep everybody more sane when we just go with the flow when it comes to sleeping on vacation, vs holding on to their at-home schedule.
If my kids eat too much dessert
Yes, I used to be that mom who denied her kids ice cream because they had already eating too much sugar the day before.
But it was so stressful because we’re usually with a lot of extended family and cousins on summer vacation, so with everybody heading out for ice cream and me holding back my kids… Ahem. Not my proudest moment.
I just let go of it this year. And you know what? They’re not mindlessly eating sweets all day long. They’re not on a constant sugar high. They just get to be kids and eat ice cream and dessert on vacation if they want to.
It’s a pretty relaxing thing to do and I know they’ll be back in our regular food routine once we’re heading home again.
If my kids are eating enough vegetables
This used to stress me beyond measure, so much so that I got to be very unpleasant at mealtimes on vacation.
But I just stopped caring. I know my kids eat enough veggies at home, and they eat plenty of fresh fruit while we’re on vacation.
Instead of fussing over adding vegetables to all of their meals, I just accept that they might not get the recommended portions while we’re away (but will certainly be back on track once we’re home and in our own kitchen again).
If we do anything intellectual
I used to be so stuck up about getting something educational and cultural out of every trip.
“Oh no, I just can’t go to the beach every single day. That’s so shallow.”
There is nothing shallow about just flexing out on the beach for a week if your kids are having fun, you’re being sun-safe and you ’re enjoying yourself, too.
It’s called being smart and relaxing vs stressing over visiting the ancient monastery a three hour bus trip away.
Sure, it would be nice, and sometimes it’s good to add something like this to a trip.
But for me, the mere thought of these cultural add-ons was stressing me out, and I only wanted to do them because I felt like I had to, and I experienced immense guilt over missing out on them for no other reason than not impressing my own intellectual side.
It just wasn’t worth it anymore.
Last year, we went to a Chagall exhibition on a whim because we had to wait for the ferry for an hour. We were in front of the museum already, we went in and looked at the pictures we enjoyed (vs musing about them in a smart way) and headed out again.
The rest of our time, we spent on the beach and eating good food.
It was so perfect and laid back and not intellectual at all that I decided to let go of the smart summer trips until we are retired, and for now do art and museums only when it’s convenient and enjoyable vs pressure.
If we take vacation pictures with our phones
PS: This photo is from the car ferry, I obviously don’t have my toddler on my lap while driving 🤦🏻♀️
I carried my heavy DSLR through Venice in the summer. While 32 weeks pregnant.
And by that I do mean my husband carried both a toddler and a heavy camera. For exactly one day.
I took three pictures with it. And then I resolved to using my phone.
- Phone cameras are actually so decent these days, the pictures come out amazing.
- I turned the phone pictures and videos into a mini film of our vacation. The three DSLR pics never saw the light of day.
- It’s my phone vs a huge camera. Enough said.
In fact, i have started taking my blog photos with my phone because it’s streamlining my work so much, makes me share more posts (because I work faster) and be less of a perfectionist.
Have you noticed at all? Have you clicked away because there’s phone pictures and not semi-professional ones?
I’d like to think you haven’t. Because at the end of the day, this here is more about communication to me vs showing off pretty photos.
And the same goes for our vacation photos: I’d rather have a bunch of not-perfect photos I can fondly look at vs three perfect DSLR photos that made my entire trip miserable.
Don’t you just love it when being less hard on yourself and making your life easier also makes life a lot happier for your entire family?
I know, me too!
Don’t get me wrong: Traveling with my two munchkins is still stressful. It’s still hard. Like when we drive at night so they can sleep during our 12 hour road trip, and they end up wide awake at 2am.
But at least it’s not unnecessarily hard.
And, quite frankly, that’s all that matters most days of motherhood.