The idea of writing a post regarding family vacations was spurred on by an email I received from The Steve Harvey Show; they are sponsoring a Family Bucket List contest in order to treat an adventurous, deserving family to the vacation adventure of their dreams. Before discussing my thoughts on family vacations, I’m going to gladly share a plug for their cool contest here:
“Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show is looking for an adventurous family! Is there something that you’ve always wanted to do together? We are looking for fun families that want to check items off their bucket list. What is one thing you and the family MUST do? Let us know!”
(Click the Family Bucket List link above if you’d like to enter!)
As for family vacations…. let’s just say that The Captain and I have yet to really establish a solid tradition of taking the kids overnight to… well, pretty much anywhere. Plenty of day trips, but the last time we embarked as a family on vacation would be our ill-fated camping trip back in 2007, when we had half the number of children that we now have.
Now, I like camping. Or at least, I used to. Back when I was young, my parents would take us camping in the summer. I thought they were adventurous. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was because we were poor…
Camping was still a romantic notion of mine, however; in college, I had visions of hiking the Appalachian Trail (thank God I never did). And The Captain and I took a few camping trips prior to parenthood, armed with our sleek yuppie state-of-the-art equipment.
But that’s because we were young. And foolish. Because now that I have kids, I’ve discovered that I’m not nearly as resilient as I thought I was about being right smack in the great outdoors….
…especially with kids.
With six kids and one income, our financial reality means that we won’t be taking any luxury vacations any time soon. So camping seems to be a logical choice for our budget. You know- we have little money, so we pack all of our stuff up, haul it into the wilderness, sleep on the ground, & hope that the wildlife lurking in the nearby woods don’t come to take our stuff. Or us.
We tried it. Once. When our older three were 5,3 and 2, we planned an upstate camping trip, along with my in-laws, my parents, and my sister (Aunt Chell) & her now-husband, Corey. It was… not stellar. For starters, the wise in-laws opted to spend the day at the campsite with us, but trekked back to a hotel room for the evenings. Which was clearly the better option, at least according to my mother, who hovered that first night in her tiny silver tent, crying softly in her conviction that a bear would stumble upon her & devour the massive Hershey’s Kiss that her tent resembled.
I should also mention that it had rained prior to our arrival, so the entire site was nice & muddy. Which is exactly what you want when you have three tiny kids schlepping so close to the ground.
My father was in the spirit of things; he was thrilled to nail his hammock between two trees and bask in nature’s beauty while unconscious & cuddling grandkids on his lap… until he was lectured by a stern park ranger that he was to immediately remove the hammock nails because they would damage the trees’ trunks…
But the warning proved unnecessary, because one of the nails popped out of the trunk & sent the hammock, the dad, & #2 crashing right to the ground. #2 was spared, but Dad’s back was not. Ouch.
This trip was also my sister’s foray into a life of crime. She and Corey were fishing on the lake, & we all watched, stunned, as a ranger’s canoe began following their canoe. Closer… they paddled quickly… it kept coming… paddle paddle paddle….
No fishing license. BUUUUUSTEDD!!!
Yep. Sister’s first and only ticket came not from the road, but the water. (And I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that she received a mock court appearance letter compliments of moi a few weeks after she paid the fine, telling her that she needed to appear in court to surrender her fishing gear… she flipped out. I laughed.)
But it was the whole “camping with kids” that proved to be a challenge for me. At age 2, #3 was allergic to wheat & dairy, only… we didn’t know it yet. Though he loved the crackers…
that didn’t work out too well.
Kids love tents, but not to sleep in. They love to smack the walls, bounce on the air mattresses, and roll into every object inside. And I’d end up playing security guard; I’d monitor “bedtime” inside the tent while peeking out at the adults gathered cozily round the campfire.
Nights consisted of waking up in a panicked stupor, convinced I heard the tent zipper, & groping through the dark to count… “#1…. check. #2….. check…. #3….. ??” (#3 always ended up scrunching his little frame into the teeniest, darkest section of tent. Not good for the protective parent.)
Were there great moments? Definitely. The Captain had lovely Daddy-daughter time teaching #1 and #2 to fish, which they loved.
And the kids appreciated being able to climb, run, and frolic in nature:
But by the end of the trip, I got tired of scraping mud off shoes, escorting kids to and from the restrooms at ALL HOURS of the day & night, long cold nights on a wobbly air mattress, the endless hunts for the cooking supplies that were RIGHT there a second ago but mysteriously vanish. And the packing to LEAVE… at the end of the trip, when you’re all dirty, and bug-bitten, and irritable from lack of sleep, and can’t seem to fit the same supplies you brought from the car back into that same car….
It’s been 7 years since that trip, & three additional kids later, I ain’t going back. Eventually, I want to get whole crew on a good ole’ fashioned Disney trip -God help us- or maybe a few days at an upstate lakefront resort. You know, one day when we have money, and time off from work, and kids that are a little older, and… oh, never mind. I’m all for family vacations, but the next family trip will include air conditioning and indoor plumbing.Six Pack Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: Six Pack Mom