This past week my husband, Eli and I have been on a vacation of sorts. It wasn’t purely a trip for fun- my husband had a work conference 2 hours away at the beach, and the hotel was free. And when given the choice between solo parenting at home for a week and solo-ish parenting at the beach, there’s really no question. The beach it was. Aside from trips to visit out of town family, this is only our 4th time leaving town since Eli was born 10 months ago (all of which were for work things, sadly) and was the longest (in duration) trip by far.
And now that we’re home, I’ve realized that vacation has taken on a completely different form since our pre-baby days. I wouldn’t say it’s worse by any means, but it is definitely different.
Vacation! 1 of 10Not quite the same with a baby...
Packing 2 of 10Prior to Eli joining our family, my husband and I were pretty light packers. One small to medium suitcase for both of us, one personal bag for toiletries and technology if we were bringing any along. That was it. Nothing terribly fancy. To go to the beach this week we had: husband's suitcase, Eli and my suitcase, a diaper box full of diapers, baby food, wipes, bibs, books and various other things, my pump bag, a bag of toys, a bag of bottle supplies, the pack n play and the diaper bag. It's a good thing we had to take 2 cars because there's no way all that and the baby would fit in either of our compact cars. And we still bought more stuff when we got there, which brings me to...
Location 3 of 10I don't mean this so much in the beautiful view way (our hotel had a gorgeous view of the parking lot), but rather in the ability to get to a supermarket, drug store or Target. Eli caught a cold and went into epic teething mode our first night there and we ran out of Motrin within the second day. A trip to Target was a must. The next day we ran out of puffs and because I'm the best planner ever, we ended up back at Target again the next day. At a previous trip out of town we had to find a drug store at 9pm for Motrin and it took us 20 minutes of driving around with a very unhappy baby. I find with babies, there tend to be more items you need that you didn't think of than when you're an adult. What I'm saying is, I don't imagine we'll be doing any isolated island getaways anytime soon, you know, because we used to do those so frequently.
Bed Time 4 of 10For us, sharing a room with the baby is not what we're used to at home and because we're in the middle of working on his sleep, it changed our vacation schedule a lot. Eli's bedtime is between 8:15 and 8:45, which meant that lights were out around 8:30 every night. Prior to having a baby, it would've been a miracle if we were in bed before 10 and typically we then watched a movie together or played a game together. Lights out and quiet at 8:30 meant that we retreated to our books and had quiet evenings in every night.
Mornings 5 of 10Bleeeeerg. This is really the most bummer part of having a baby on vacation. It seems that Eli does not understand that vacation = sleeping in. And instead, this time, moved UP his wake up time and was up before 7 every day (ask me how much I'm loving this time change in general, please). I suppose it's good that lights were out at 8:30 since we were getting up with the son. Er, sun. (Sorry. Kind of.)
Activities 6 of 10Prior to having a baby, if we had stayed at the hotel we were at this week, we probably would've done a couple of different activities. My guess is we would've rented kayaks, or gone to the movies or something along those lines. Nothing fancy, but an activity that we wouldn't normally do at home. With Eli, our activity options are different. Not gone by any means, but instead of kayaks, we did the zoo and played in the heated hotel pool. And instead of movies, walks on the pier and playing in the sand. Honestly, I'm not sad about this change one bit, it's just something different. Spending the day at the zoo with Eli was a highlight of our trip for sure. And no one splashed me for being the worst tandem kayaker ever.
Cost 7 of 10This one can kind of go both ways. With Eli, we're doing fewer big activities, eating fewer fancy meals and not taking trips by airplane, so the cost is actually lower than previous trips we've taken. But at the same time, we're buying an extra meal when out (sometimes) and I can tell that as he gets older, the kid friendly activities will not be the bargains. Let's hope that Eli likes playing at the beach all day as much as I did as a kid!
Meals 8 of 10Before Eli, when we went on vacation we would try to do one nice meal out. We aren't terribly fancy diners and can get along fine with cheap meals, but we like to do something nice to celebrate the occasion. And even though Eli is a pretty good baby in restaurants (save for when we threw up in Red Lobster last week, which, I wish I could apologize more for that because I feel terrible), there are just places that babies do not belong. And nice restaurants are one of them. So now our meals have an added qualifier- family friendly. Not altogether a bad thing by any means, just another thing that has changed this year.
Hotel Choice 9 of 10When it's just my husband and I staying in a hotel, we are pretty simple. Is it relatively safe-ish? Can we park nearby-ish? Are there bugs? If the answers were yes, yes and no, we were good with it. We got some great deals and stayed in some just above questionable level hotels without any issues. But with a baby, that just doesn't feel quite right. We now look more carefully at safety, at online reviews of thickness of walls (this last trip, even though the walls were thick, we still brought our neighbor an apology Starbucks card for the hour of screaming one night) and proximity to stores that sell essential supplies, as listed above.
Memories 10 of 10My husband and I are pretty sentimental people. We have done a good job of making things meaningful, even before Eli was here. But with Eli, now things seem more important and remembering these moments seems more critical than ever. We try to take more pictures, visit more things and make these trips memorable. We know Eli won't remember any of this, but if we're waiting until he can remember, we'll be cooped up at home until kindergarten. Right now, it's enough for us to remember that he had a good time. Someday he'll enjoy stories of his first few trips and then it will be worth it all over again.
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