Don’t Deny It: Your Vacation Revolved Around Your Baby

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Updated February 26, 2017
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I spot them everywhere. They’re the ones pushing enormous strollers where they don’t belong, like onto hot tennis courts and up muddy hiking trails. They’re the ones at the playground before 8 a.m., the ones making dinner reservations for 5:30 p.m. They convince themselves they’re still fun-loving and spontaneous, even while lugging around a truckload of sunscreen, snacks, diapers and wipes at all times. They are Parents On Vacation with Small Children.

I recognize these people because I am one of them. My kids are past the baby stage now, but I’m still in transition — from Normal Person on Vacation to Parent On Vacation. The differences are huge.

Normal people sleep in on vacation. Not parents. No one told the baby waking up before dawn is a buzz kill. Normal people on vacation go wherever they want, whenever they want. Not parents. We plan our days around naps and feeding schedules. Normal people go new places on vacation, try new things. Not parents. We’re slaves to the routine — playgrounds, family-friendly chain restaurants — the more like home, the better.

I can hear you parents-to-be protesting from here. Not you, you’re going to be different. Your baby will adapt to your life, not vice versa. To you I say: Good luck with that.

I thought the same thing when I was a new mom, until a few 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls during a family vacation proved me wrong. Turns out the baby wasn’t as adaptable as I’d hoped, nor was he a fan of the Pack ‘n Play. Then there was the time I had to leave the hip brew pub before our wood-fired pizza was ready, because the baby was having a meltdown. He couldn’t tolerate the noise and the over-stimulation.

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In fact, my baby couldn’t tolerate a lot of my favorite vacation activities. The beach was too hot, the cobblestoned village too bumpy for a stroller, and a bike ride required complicated equipment we didn’t have. As for tennis, boating, or naps in the hammock? Forget it.

All you die-hard nature lovers who strap on the baby backpack and go hiking and camping? Good for you. If you can honestly tell me that carrying around all that extra weight and getting spit-up in your hair is a vacation, then go on with your outdoorsy self!

As for me, I’ve drastically adapted my vacation activities post-kids. I trade off with my husband so we can each sneak in a quick swim or a few holes of golf. We sit out on the deck and enjoy the sun during naptime, or a glass of wine after the kids are in bed. We rarely ever eat out at restaurants. Our vacations are nothing like they used to be, true, but they work for us. And it’s better than no vacation at all.

How did your vacations change after you had a baby?

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