With summer in full-swing, I’m reminded of the first time my husband and I took our daughter on a summer vacation. She was only three months old. We headed south to spend a week in Florida. We packed a small suitcase for my clothes, an even smaller bag for my husband Steve and a steamer trunk for Maddie. Given the fact that her average outfit measured three by eight inches, we were, needless to say, taking no chances.
Anxious about the airplane flights, and the possibility of Maddie experiencing ear discomfort, I carted a carry-on bag containing several pacifiers, bags of powdered formula, extra bottles, and her five most entertaining stuffed animals. And, of course, there was the extra bag of diapers and related paraphernalia, not to mention the car seat, backpack and portable crib.
The only time Maddie cried was when I accidentally bumped her with one of the carry-on bags; in fact, her behavior throughout our vacation could best be described as angelic. She adapted to the climate change easily, seemed oblivious to the slight adjustments we made in her schedule, and took the airplane flights in stride.
Throughout Maddie and Nick’s childhood, we took them on several other trips, and in every case, our worst expectations were never realized. The seemingly endless car trips we took, despite warnings we wouldn’t make it past the first few hours, never devolved into total madness. In fact, on one very delayed plane flight, I noticed that the ones who whined and bellyached the most were the adults — not their kids. One man complained so loudly and incessantly about the cabin temperature that his seven-year-old son finally whispered, “Dad! Shhh. You’re making me embarrassed.”
Expecting our children to be bored, impatient, whiny and overtired on a trip is an excellent prescription for disaster. Planning carefully, thinking positively and taking our cues from our kids promises a far more successful family vacation. If you’re hitting the road this summer, don’t try to do too much. Plan some “downtime” — time to savor an exceptional sunset, get out of the car and inhale some clean mountain air, or linger at a local restaurant for another slice of homemade blueberry pie — because these are the moments you’ll remember when you flip (or scroll) through your pictures in the years to come.