Who says you can’t go on vacation with 2 toddlers in tow? Right? This was my very mindset when I booked a vacation for 4 to a beautiful beach location on the Gulf of Mexico. This was to be our very first vacation as a family. My husband, our two toddlers (ages 2 and 3), and I would set out on what would be an 8 hour drive to our vacation destination. Had I known what was ahead of me, perhaps I would have booked a vacation for 2 to the sunny beaches of the Gulf and called in reinforcements (grandma) to watch the tots! I definitely learned a few important lessons on our first family vacation.
Packed and prepared (or so I thought), we left right on time on what was supposed to be a glorious Sunday morning. The rain wasn’t going to ruin our vacation plans but oh what an impact it would have on getting there in one piece and with all the hair left in my head. Driving in the pouring rain with 2 toddlers who were yelling at the top of their lungs to get out and play wasn’t at all fun. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to stop and play when it is raining so hard that you can barely see the road. Forget stopping at rest stops along the way! Thus, lesson #1 of the trip was learned. Be flexible with the planning. If you have to wait until the rain stops to leave, do so. Toddlers do not do well riding for long periods of time. If the weather isn’t conducive to traveling, push your vacation back a day for the sake of everyone!
After traveling for what seemed like eternity through the wind and rain, we finally reached our vacation destination. The condo was beautiful and the kids enjoyed running around the wide open spaces of our oasis which overlooked the beautiful emerald green waters of the gulf. We decided we would take the kids out for their first steps in the sand and dip in the cool green waters. I was unprepared for what would happen next. My two year old absolutely refused to put his feet in the sand. How would we ever enjoy the beach if we had to carry him EVERYWHERE? Lesson #2 – Don’t expect your toddlers to love the vacation location just because you do. Be prepared to “sell” it to them. Luckily we found a fix to this situation. A wagon is a perfect mode of transportation for a kid who refuses to walk on the sandy beach. Riding in the wagon on the beach quickly became his favorite activity while we were there. We also bought a blow up floating boat, the kind meant to be used in swimming pools to float around in. We blew up the boat, made a place for it I the sand next to us, filled it will a little water from the Gulf, and voila, he had his own little place to play with toys but was in the shade and safely out of any kind of harms way.
The week progressed and my little family was thoroughly enjoying our beach vacation. We had flown kites, built sandcastles, utilized the many amenities for families at our resort, and had even taken the kids out for an evening of fun on the town. The night before we were to leave, a realization came to me. Through all the fun and adventure our family was having, my husband and I had not had one second alone. The visions of the long strolls we once took (before we had kids!) came to mind. Lesson #3 was learned at this point. Don’t forget to make time for each other. Family vacations are for the two of you as well! While we didn’t get to take that much anticipated stroll on the beach together on our first family vacation, we will on our next! I’m bringing a babysitter along for the all the fun (and to help with that much needed time together) on our next getaway. A friend of mine took her mother with her on her last vacation to help wrangle the kids, and to allow her and her husband to get a little “couple time” in…brilliant!
All in all, I must say that our first trip to the beach as a family was a success. We did hit a few hurdles along the way but we worked them out. Most of all, we made memories that will last life time.
Olivia Nicholas is a writer, blogger and a mom. She has been writing articles and blogging for over 10 years and is a freelance writer for Storkie.