Two Thoughts

We’re three days into our vacation. 

There are two thoughts that circle, like vultures. “I’m so glad we didn’t attempt this last year.” “We’re definitely not coming again next year.” 

We’ve shortened our reservation in LA. I expect we’ll be home by Thursday. 

It doesn’t help that my son is really sick, but that isn’t even the issue. 

I used to be a really enthusiastic person. I got excited for things. I looked forward to them. It was one of the best parts of myself. 

Since having kids I’ve stopped looking forward to things. I’ve stopped getting excited. It’s for the best, because it means I don’t get disappointed anymore. No more high highs and no more low lows. Just a real steady apathy about most things. 

I forget why we came here. Probably because we (let’s face it, *I*) felt left behind, watching everyone go places on FB, feeing like we were the only ones staying at home. It always seems like a good idea when you’re planning it. Sun, sand, swimming: things we can’t get at home. But what we have to sacrifice for those things–security, schedule, our sanity–it’s a wash in the end. It’s not really being worth the time and money it costs to go, not when you factor in the stress involved.

One week until school starts. These are our last days of summer. 


  1. Vacations are a s**load of work for parents with small children. And, like childbirth over time some of the memories fade and we vacation again with small children.
    Luckily children grow and vacations with them change. And this is how family stories and lore are created and grow. Despite your up close current reality based feelings, it is good to do vacations. Keep breathing and look for the good seconds of laughter and love.

    1. Is it really good when they are this age? I totally agree they are worthwhile when kids are older and will remember the experience, but when it’s just two parents working their ass off to manage their kids, who won’t remember it later anyway, I’m seriously wondering if there is a point. If my husband and I were enjoying ourselves it would be one thing, but if we’re not, does it make sense to take the time off work, and spend the money, just to say we went to San Diego when they were young? We can’t even afford to visit any of the trademark places with them. I’m seriously wondering what I was thinking.

  2. Oh hon it sounds like you are having a bad day. It’s ok to not enjoy it. I’m not sure what else to say other than giving you a hug xx

    1. When I wrote this post it wasn’t a particularly bad day, just par for the course when we travel with my daughter. Of course, managing her 24/7 while our friends’ kid (exact same age) basically manages himself is a little demoralizing.

      Funnily, I read your comment half way through my son’s two hour stint of being too sick to sleep. He threw up all over his pack n play and just couldn’t get comfortable. Managing a sick toddler when the whole family is sleeping in one room is…challenging. Now I am officially over this vacation. I just want to go home.

  3. We just left a short two day beach trip and had the most amazing time. My children are 3 and 1. I think the success of a trip is on the expectations you set. We have none. We go with the flow and off how are children are reacting. Last year the infant HATED the sand so we went to the beach for a few hours and the rest of the time we played put put or sat on the balcony while they played inside. It was glorious, no home chores, no feeding/napping schedules and most of all no work. This year both girls LOVED the sand so we sat on the beach for 12 hours each day. The girls played in the surf and the sand until they couldnt keep their eyes open. I cannot imagine not taking them anywhere. The tears at bathtime were a minor blip on the radar as we will mostly remember the glorious days filled with laughter, sunscreen and sand (LOTS OF SAND). I look forward to taking the children places as it brings back the wonder and amazement at them seeing it through their eyes.

    1. I can assure you I had zero expectations of this trip and was prepared to go with the flow. I just think traveling with my daughter is a really different experience than traveling with most kids. She is not flexible. She is not easy going. She has very specific needs and they have to be met. There is just no middle ground with her. She can’t meet you anywhere but where she is.

      I think if my son weren’t sick we may have had a fighting chance. But with the easy going one feeling sick and clingy, and my daughter reacting to that, it just wasn’t going to happen. We did have a nice two hours at the beach on the first morning, but that time is not worth ten hours in the car one way, and night after night of severely disrupted sleep.

  4. Yeah, sounds like it is not worth it at this point in time.

    We did San diego when my son was 6. I had to be there for a business trip, so my travel and the hotel was paid, otherwise we wouldn’t have gone. But 6 was a great age for lego land and sea world and the zoo. (And we got some really great internet deals on tickets.)

    Hope everyone feels better soon!

    1. We will no longer be visiting Sea World because of the treatment of the Orcas. It’s a shame because it’s a great place. The zoo was crazy expensive and I didn’t want to brave Legoland this year. We’re not making the trip next year. Maybe when they are 7 and 3.5 it will be better.

  5. Hey I’m totally on board with you on this one. I think the time is going to be all sunshine & rainbows and it’s effing work. Just trying to get them to Sea World to play in the splash pad is work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and I’m glad I did it in the end…but I have to psych myself up for it. I don’t like that I have to do it that way but it works for me.

    But I wouldn’t say that having kids stopped you from looking forward to things. I think, for me, I’m the same way but it’s the carefree attitude that I no longer have, that sort of takes the wind out of the sails for the vacation. Now, with kids, I have to think of everything that could possibly go wrong & be prepared for it.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation. Throw any expectations out the window and have fun!

    1. I already had no expectations. And it’s still miserable. My daughter just becomes so needy when she is pulled from her routines and familiar surroundings. And when another family is involved you have to manage their expectations. My son got no sleep last night so that means I didn’t either (and my daughter was woken frequently as well). We’re going to see how he does today and if he’s not feeling better and/or doesn’t sleep well tonight we’re hauling it back to SF without stopping in LA. I hope we can stay in LA. But not if things continue like this.

      1. Travel with a sick kid is NEVER good. Totally understand a decision to drive back to SF through the night so maybe they sleep a good portion of it. IF you parents are awake enough for the driving.
        Your daughter is old enough to remember. You son probably isn’t as his language probably isn’t that strong yet, and vacation memories really do rely on language. So breath deep. Hopefully you get a nap too. And, sometimes vacations are more learning and less fun. But they can remembered years later as “The time x happened and we did y”. Notice years later portion of that sentence.
        Stacks of hugs!!!!!

  6. I’m sorry you’re having a shitty time. Maybe wait a year or two before attempting again? It was just this year that our beach vacation was actually fun (at ages 3.5 and 5.5). There is just NO WAY TO KNOW (at least for me, anyways) whether a vacation or even an outing with the kids will be fun & relaxing vs. horrific and soul-sucking. So many factors involved, mostly unpredictable. I don’t really get the “no expectations” advice—why would you even spend the time & money to plan a vacation if you didn’t at least expect it to be fun? I get not expecting specific things (sure, your kid may not like the sand or refuse to sleep past 5am) but you would at least expect SOMETHING positive!. If you get NONE of that, you are going to be disappointed.
    Remember, facebook is the highlight reel. I’m sure you could pull together 2-3 pics for facebook that may make your friends jealous, too. And sun/ocean/sand is not everyone’s idea of fun—could it be harder for your daughter bc of the sensory issues? I can imagine the noise/sensations may be difficult?
    I get the not looking forward to things, too. Once you have an unexpectedly good experience (it will happen at some point…) the excitement will start to come back even if you don’t want it to.

    1. I have specifically not posted my highlight reel on FB because I know it would be such a partial truth as to essentially be dishonest. Sure I have some great shots of my kids and our friends kids at the beach, but that was two hours out of 70+ and it isn’t representative of the experience any of us are having. I’m also not saying what it’s really been like (except for one post that hinted at the sleep trouble we’re having) because no one wants to hear about real life on FB. They want the highlight reel. They want the partial truths, even if they are essentially dishonest.

      Interestingly my daughter loves the beach, but my son has been kind of anti (even before he felt sick). He’s not into the sand these days, but can be persuaded to put his toes in the water, especially if his big sister does the persuading. 😉 Our daughter just generally doesn’t want to do anything (transitions are VERY DIFFICULT for her) until we can’t really do the thing anymore, then she wants to go and freaks out that we can’t anymore. Makes for great vacation fun!

  7. I just cancelled our holiday at the end of the year in favor of a staycation. I was looking at photos from the last one and remembered my kids were so tired & shitty & just wanted to hang at home. We spent so much money to do exactly what the kids didn’t want to do, which meant we had a mediocre time. This year we’re spending the money on fun stuff near where we live for a full 6 weeks of fun rather than 10 days of stress.

    1. Well played. That was probably the right call. We definitely won’t be doing this next year. Not a chance. Maybe in two years, but next year we’re staying home.

  8. I am sorry. That totally sucks. I have arrived at the same place at you: vacations with young children are not worth it. I will do two types of vacationing with my kids (5 and 7 years old): staycations with day trips and a yearly trip to Florida. The yearly trip to FL works because my mom lives there, we can stay with her in her retirement village, and swim in the pool with the old people. Very chill.

    No need to try and keep up with all of the perfect smiling Joneses on Instagram who are having seemingly amazing vacations with their spotless children. You’re right that your kids won’t remember this so take whatever “vacation” makes you happiest, even if it means going nowhere at all. All of my friends are super into camping and are always trying to convince me how great it is and how it is such a bonding experience and they can’t seem to understand why I have no interest in taking my own family camping. Because, screw that, it sounds miserable, and I have no intention of joining in on something I know I won’t enjoy just because everyone else is doing it. In just a couple of years we’ll do those things, but not quite yet.

    1. Camping is not my idea of a vacation. I just can’t stand the dirt and dust that get on everything. I just want to wash my feet every second that I’m living out doors. Ugh. My husband’s family did a lot of camping when he was young, but I’m not worried about him dragging me somewhere because that would require him planning and preparing and that is never going to happen. Sometimes it’s good to be the one who does everything. 😉

      1. LOL, this comment cracked me up. I have such fond memories of camping as a child (and hope for the same for my kids, b/c let’s face it, we’re broke) but it’s not for everyone!

  9. Oof, I’m sorry.

    I have mostly enjoyed traveling with my kid, but I have just the one, and he’s comparatively easy-going and flexible. And even then — travel with a kid is definitely, well, as a widely-shared essay (at least in my circle) on FB recently said — a trip, not a vacation (for the parents).

    I definitely don’t think travel with kids is essential. I hope next summer you’ll be able to find ways to allocate your time, money, and energy that produce more joy and less stress, it sounds like by staying closer to home or maybe AT home. And I hope your son gets better soon — poor him and you, both.

    1. I loved that “Yep, it’s a trip” post. I read it right before this “trip” and laughed the whole time. We knew this was going to be a trip, but it was a good reminder. My husband is getting some QT with his friend we’re visiting but it looks like I may miss out on that opportunity because my son is sick and we probably won’t stay in LA for long. Oh well, at least one of us had a good time.

      I think in the future we should save our money and do a vacation, just he and I, and wait until the kids are MUCH older to travel with them. It’s just not fun while they are young. Not for any of us.

  10. I’m on vacation with my family and I’ve never been more miserable in my entire life. I don’t even know where to begin.

    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry. But this comment did make me laugh; and that is appreciate more than you can ever know.

  11. Ugh – I’m so sorry. This sounds super rough. I hope he feels better soon and I hope you guys have a safe journey back – you are driving them solo??? YOU ARE AMAZING. More power to you, and you can do it, and please have a bucketload of wine when you get home.

    1. I am driving them back solo. We should only have to stop once (that is the hope) so I think it will be okay. We shall see.

  12. Oh man, hope your feelings about this vacation have changed in the past two days. I wholeheartedly hope you will be left with mostly positive feelings about this getaway. Yes, it’s a lot of managing when you’re traveling with two littles, but the positives should outweigh the negatives I hope!! <3

    1. It has started getting better. My son is feeling better so we don’t have to give him so much attention so our daughter isn’t acting out so much to compete for that attention. We also had a great beach day in LA with a friend of mine. So that was nice. We only have one more day left and then we’re going home. I think in the end my feelings will be more neutral, and not negative, so that’s good.

  13. ugh, I”m really sorry it sounds awful. We just got back from a “vacation” with my husband’s family: that’s 7 kids, 5 4 & under and 8 adults. It was…not relaxing. Kate was up til 1 am 2 of those nights, Luke had epic tantrums and literally did not want to see or talk to me for the entirety of the weeklong trip so I had to bark at him to get him to pay attention. But nobody puked? Anyway. I’m thinking leaving the kids for a night is in order.

    1. I’m sorry you had an exhausting week. I know what that is like. Sleep away from home is hard, and when one person is waking up, everyone else is up. We haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in a week. I can’t wait to get back to my own bed.

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