Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vacation with littles was almost the death of me.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you already know that the family and I spent the last few weeks in beautiful Montana/Wyoming/Idaho/Utah. The scenery - gorgeous. Family vacation - NEVER AGAIN. I'm going to show you some pretty pictures, and then I'm going to tell you how the trip REALLY went.

Most of this vacation got documented by my cell phone camera, so the photo quality here isn't super high, so you'll have to forgive me. 

Cliff Lake, Montana

Mama and baby bison parading down the road (and stopping traffic!) in Yellowstone.

Driving up the Beartooth Highway. Could it get more gorgeous? Answer: NO.

 Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 

Crazy boiling thermal pool in Yellowstone, trying it's hardest to kill this poor tree. 

Buffalo crossing!

Boys ready to hike (aka the ONE moment of the trip when they weren't acting like heathens). 

Kayaking on Quake Lake.

Sawyer exploring our back yard on our first Montana morning. 

Northwest park boundary.

Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt. 

So, the trip highlights were: GORGEOUS scenery, a trip to Cooke City, Montana with Riley and Sawyer, lots of great wildlife spottings (grizzly bear, black bear with cubs, moose, tons of elk and bison, antelope, coyotes, etc.), hanging out with Char.

BUT.

Most of the trip involved children screaming and fighting, Bryan and I screaming and fight because the children were screaming and fighting, lots of time outs, kids trying to beat the crap out of each other, and tons of time trying to keep children in the midst of a tantrum from destroying the cabin. NOT. FUN.

This was the first time we've ever taken all three of the kiddos on vacation at once. So, where did we go wrong? Are all family vacations like that? Is two weeks too long? Did we go too far from home? How do you manage littles on a vacation  and still maintain your sanity?

Or, is the key just to leave them at home?

Discuss. 

35 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading future comments. I have nothing to offer. We just don't go anywhere. Day trips are as much as I can put up with. Sorry, traveling with kids just isn't fun for me so I don't do it unless it's to visit grandma who lives 5 hours away and we usually only do that about twice a year. Pathetic, I know!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the past, we've always vacationed WITH grandma, because she is so helpful. We really missed her this trip!

      Delete
    2. Yeh if we EVER vacation {i.e. it's usually 2 days somewhere} it's with my in-laws or my parents. Vinnie just behaves better with them, and if he has a melt down there's other people to handle it ^_^

      Delete
  2. My littlies are 5 & 3 and we went on holiday a couple of weeks ago. They were really good most of the time & spent most of their time playing on the beach - we only went 2 hours away from home though & a week was definitely enough for us all. Holidaying with children is definitely different than as a couple!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOL!!! What beautiful pictures! NOW I wanna go there! We just got back from a week at Disney World..it was hotter than heck, and the humidity! Ugh!!!! But we had a good time...our kids are older 22,20 and 18, so they basically took care of themselves. And if they did fight, I knew that if they have made it this far w/out killing eachother chances were pretty good that they would be fine.;) I look forward to other readers' comments!!!
    I would love to plan a Yellowstone vacation for next year!!!!

    audrey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a GORGEOUS part of the country! I would definitely recommend visiting. I can't wait to go out there with my boys when they are the age of yours - it would be a great family vacation for grown up boys who like to hike and fish and sight see!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's usually hit or miss with my Kids. The being said if you are staying in a hotel with your kids always make sure that it at least has a pool, waterslides are even better. My kids are fairly young 2 4 and 6. I have taken them places and they melt down and I just want the trip to be over, and I have taken them places and they behaved wonderfully. Vacation I guess are like regular days there are good ones and bad ones. I wish I knew what it is that make kids angels one day and crazy the next.

    ReplyDelete

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO hit or miss! If you figure out the secret, let me know! :)

      Delete
  6. Our vacations were usually short and to the point. We either drove to MN (from GA) to visit family or to FL to the beach. Later there were Colorado ski vacations. I found that travel time was hard so there was always something special and different to keep them occupied. When you get to a destination, DO something - swim in the hotel pool, play mini-golf, go souvenir shopping, talk up one thing to see and ooh and aah over it. I wonder if your littles were still too young for a 2 week road trip? And also wonder if there was too much see this, see that and not enough do this...Do your kids thrive on schedules? Was there too much togetherness? Did you divide-and-conquer with the kids-littles going with one parent, big bro with the other? Was there enough rest time for all of you? (Or maybe too much?)

    We finally came to the conclusion at one point that the best vacation for our kids would be just going to the nearest motel and swimming and eating out! We started the ski vacays when they 9 and 11, and even the road trip parts of those were hard. Long boring stretches (even the Rockies are boring to kids)of driving were not their thing; spilling Coke in the rental car was not their dad's thing. I think it takes as much planning to go on vacation with kids as it does to live at home with them. But I confess I was always glad to be home after "vacation" too. And somehow we have this idealized vision of what a vacation ought to be...I bet if you talk to families that do road trip vacations that the good memories outweigh the bad, and even the "bad" memories become reason for laughter and teasing years after.

    Please don't say Never Again. My motto this year has been "think differently." So I use those words to encourage you - next time, think differently - about vacations and what it might look like. Thanks for the beautiful pictures - makes me want to go there again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm sad you for you that your kids were so crazy! Have you vacationed with them before?
    We have 4 littles. 3 boys aged almost 6, 4, and just turned 2, and a 5 month old daughter. We just took them on a 9 hour road trip a couple weeks ago, just away for a few days, but we had a great time! We also go camping (in a tent!) every summer and it is always a highlight of the year for me. Maybe my kids are just used to going away together? Granted, we've never been away for two weeks at a time, but gosh, looking at your pictures, I think we'll have to! How far is Montana away from Winnipeg, Canada???
    My tips for holidaying: GO WITH THE FLOW. Sometimes the kids stay up way later than usual, still get up early, nap whenever the heck it works, eat too much junk food, etc, etc. It's what makes our vacations work, I think.
    Good luck next time!! (if there is a next time...)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have done quite a bit of traveling with my children who are 6, 4, and 2. (oldest is a boy, youngeste two girls) All of them have done some traveling. :) Most of them time they are good. ;) Most recently we spent two weeks on Florida. The children did pretty well! The things I do to keep everything going well are:
    1. Make sure they are getting enough rest! It is ok to have a couple times for special things when they go to bed late or miss a nap, but make sure you keep a gentle routine for sleeping and eating. Lack of sleep makes everyone crabby! It is not always easy but is SO worth it.
    2. State the rules as soon as you get there then stick to them. This may mean some testing on the 2nd or third day out, but this sets the tone for the trip. This is also a chance for my husband to know them, too, and be on the same wave length as I am about discipline and expectations. :) The children know Dad and Mom agree, so there will be no trying to get us upset with each other!
    3. Don't leave them cooped up for too long. My son gets pretty antsy when he has to stay in the hotel room. I try to make sure he has some cut loose and run time. This keeps him and us sane, but I have to say he is the one that pushes the rules the most. I think it is ingrained in boys!
    4. Try to get a few moments to yourself each day. It may only be 15 minutes, but it helps when you are cooped up more than usual. Do you hubby a favor and make sure he gets a little time to himself, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brooke, great advice! I particularly liked your last line, "Do you hubby a favor and make sure he gets a little time to himself, too."

      Thanks!

      Delete
  9. HAhaha, I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 month old, and we can't even handle a 2 night visit to the Grandparents! Thank goodness they only live 2 hours away, but all 4 of us sleeping in the same room is an absolute nightmare! I always tell my husband "I'm a SAHM, I want a vacation AWAY from the kids, not WITH the kids!" ;D

    ReplyDelete
  10. My mom and dad had my sister and I 9.5 years apart. That probably helped. But we were always road travelers. Mom always had a small goodie bag packed she distributed treats as needed. Books, puzzle book games. I loved those magic pen books! Roadtrip bingo too. Usually our destination was Canada in a bare bones cabin on a lake. Fishing swimming occasional trip to tiny town. If you do the fishing and swimming and card games. Kids tend to naps in the afternoon. No tv or video games. My sister was 8 when we traveled in our popup camper 3 weeks across the west. Usually campgrounds with a pool. Setting up everyone had jobs, again pool swimming, campfires, hiking. We visited lots of places but there was lots of kid explore/swim/ranger nature program time. Despite being in different places some nights I think a consistent routine of setup, getting dinner, fishing certain times helps kids stay on even keel. And mom and Dad always had clear expectations and prepared us for what came next. (Not that we didnt have the occasional melt down)

    ReplyDelete
  11. My kids are ages 5 and 2.5 and we take two vacations a year... both to Disneyland. Every two or three years, we go up to Oregon (we live in California) as well. Guess which of those two locations is the most successful? The Disneyland trips!

    But...

    (Isn't there always a *but"?)

    Every trip we go on is peppered with many, many moments where I just want to give up and go home. The tantrums. The whining. The squabbling. The sheer craziness of it all. I think it's just part of traveling with our little ones. They thrive on their home schedule and so when things are off, they go a little haywire.

    What we have found is that there must be some sort of fun payoff activity at the end of the road. The kids can't do anything that involves too many days in the car, watching scenery, "looking, but not touching" at museums, etc. They go bonkers, and therefore so do we!

    Your trip, by the way, looked gorgeous and fun. Montana is one of my top places to go back and visit!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Some answers:

    So, where did we go wrong? - You didn't!

    Are all family vacations like that? - Absolutely

    Is two weeks too long? - Maybe

    Did we go too far from home? - No

    How do you manage littles on a vacation and still maintain your sanity? - Sanity? What's that??? Sometimes just ignoring them until they wear themselves out saves the day.

    Or, is the key just to leave them at home? - No, no, no!

    I remember one particular vacation with three kids on the ground and one in the belly. I was a mess. The kids were a mess. Hubster was a mess. I look at those 23 year old pictures, and now it seems like the greatest time EVER!

    ReplyDelete
  13. We spent a week in our caravan earlier in the year; boys aged 5 & 3 and little girl aged 1 but not walking, just crawling in the dirt and eating kangaroo poo.
    I didn't get to do any sewing or reading (you should have seen all the projects I packed!)
    It was not relaxing.
    Nobody slept, it was exhausting.
    But we'll do it again. The boys loved it and I guess it was a change of scenery.
    Hopefully everyone will get better at it!!
    (BTW, I mentioned this to my mum as I always remember our family holidays when I was growing up as absolutely awesome, and she said the same thing used to happen to her!!)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh dear that does not sound fun! The photos are GORGEOUS though and the bison on the road is so cool. I didn't know they did that. Are they wild? We have cattle here that meander across the roads when we go to rainforests, but nothing like on a highway or anything!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Yellowstone Bison are the last remaining wild herd of bison in the U.S.

      Yellowstone Bison
      Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states where a population of wild bison has persisted since prehistoric times, although fewer than 50 native bison remained here in 1902. Fearing extinction, the park imported 21 bison from two privately-owned herds, as foundation stock for a bison ranching project that spanned 50 years at the Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley.

      Delete
  15. After our vacation with our 2 & 4 year old boys this summer, we've decided on a couple things for our next few vacations:
    1) 5 days max
    2) Pay the extra to book flights at normal times (as much as possible) instead of red-eyes and early mornings
    3) Only take direct flights
    4) Pay for a suite, condo, or other arrangement that lets them have their own room
    5) Make sure their day is jam packed so they crash when it's time to sleep!
    This is going to limit our vacation choices (no more Hawaii for a while). But we had a vacation just like the one you described (even with 6 grandparents with us to take kids for us to have breaks). So maybe with boys there are ways to minimize the fighting, but I think family vacations will be like this from now until who know when?

    ReplyDelete
  16. My kids are much older now....24, 22 and 20.5....and I may consider going on a trip with them again! Hee hee!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Melissa's advice is great! See Dolphins & Mosquitos:
    http://melissaspoelstra.com/?p=109&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dolphins-and-mosquitos

    Emily, we need to look at our trip through the Tutoring-Toy Lens, and not the Exhausted-after-20-hours-traveling-in-one-day Lens.

    Looking back at those visits to The Tutoring Toy and the kids laughing, playing, and loving the world, the entire trip was worthwhile. The other highlights, such as the moose and bears, kayaking with my boys, and just waking up with Hebgen Lake out the window were also great.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Having traveled with three boys for many years, I understand. Don't give up. The plan is to wear them out before they wear you down. Sitting in the car is too much for little ones, particularly just before you go into a restaurant to sit down for a meal. We always had them run laps, around the parking lot, down the sidewalk, through the rest area, any safe space we could find. We had rules about how far they could go (stop at the first tree, the third sidewalk square, the mailbox then mom will tag you and you go on to the next thing). Even a short bit of exercise can make a big difference.

    Also, we have LOTS of silly games with tiny rewards. A bag full of garage sale toys can be worth its weight in gold when you need a distraction.

    That is not to say we didn't have our share of melt downs and trauma, but it is always worth it. (Except maybe for the sweltering campground full of tiny skunks ....)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here's my thought, as someone who just returned from a family vacation during which we made our 22-month-old ride in the car for 12 hours IN ONE DAY. TWICE. I know, right?
    I think even the ugly, screamy, horrifying vacations are good ones - in a few years, you'll look back on the screamy Yellowstone trip fondly. It's the imperfect family moments that become treasured family stories.
    Of course, I might still be delusional from those 24 hours in a car with the toddler. That's entirely possible!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've yet to go on trips with kids (not too much longer now!), but I almost died at Yellowstone all by myself....so I think you did a fabulous job with three littles!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Seriously gorgeous places you visited and since I have been at home this summer with my three I can safely say that the fighting, tantrumming and all around craziness would be more bearable with the scenery you had. Today I almost put myself in a time out. For like six hours. With a bottle of wine.

    ReplyDelete
  23. sounds exactly like a family vacation i took once...except i had just graduated highschool...my sister is 2 years younger than me..my brother..3 years younger than me..and my other sister 9 years younger than me..haha!!...my parents decided that it would be fun for us to take 2 months and drive from ontario, CAN to british columbia , CAN to visit family..and we camped pretty much the whole.way.there-and back...and fought the whole.way.there-and back...my dad refused to get a dvd player because wouldn't the scenery be enough? :)..i had just started dating my now husband and missed him terribly and my brother endured 2 months of endless teasing from all his sisters...he kept a journal about the whole thing and we all laugh at it now...but than again we are old enough to laugh at ourselves and feel bad for our poor old parents and the trauma we put them through...
    i would say though...keep trying...eventually it will be fun for everyone and you'll all look back on them as fun memories and forget all the bad ones :)
    -heather

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think two weeks might be a bit long, but if you have the time use it!!!! We took the boys (then 7 months) to the OBX last year - fun was had by all, but no one got rest or relaxation. I was still on 'mom' duty 24/7 - oh yeah, and I was pregnant and sick as a dog. So fun ;op We are trying to go again this fall and I know it will be more of the same (except not pregnant and sick!!!). At least the boys sleep better now and baby girl will hopefully be on a sleep schedule by then. We will bring tons of activities, we always get a house with a pool, the beach is steps away. But I still wont get to read a book or take naps - family vacations are just not relaxing until kids are older or gone ;o) *We share a house with my hubs' brothers and their spouses, but no one else fully understands having more than one kid. We are trying to convince friends of ours to come with us this year to be an extra set of eyes (now that the boys can RUN) and maybe to let us have an evening out. Who knows - it could get better.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hello,
    I live in Europe where it is totally normal to go on vacation for 2 weeks every year and my kids are used to it. Of course traveling is stressful but once you get to your destination it's great and my kids always have fun. I try to keep the taveling time under 6 hours wether its a flight or drive and that really helps we don't travel cross country from site to site because that is not fun for kids and thats when they fight. Other then that I get really mean and ignore them completely if they act up. I won't have vacation ruined that I worked hard for just because they are bored and whiny.

    ReplyDelete
  26. It is so refreshing to read an honest post about a less than perfect moment as a parent. I find most posts show the pretty pictures and talk about their darling family and leave out all the mess that comes with being a parent. Thank you for your honesty. I don't know how many times we have sworn never to take another family vacation, but we just got back from one that was fun for all of us. Maybe the next one will be OK for you too.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh my goodness. That doesnt sound much like a relaxing vaca at all! I have 4 heathens ( all boys) and we have been on a vaca with and without Dad on several occassions. I tell you the most important thing was QUIET! I made sure we had LOADS of alone time activities to do in the car and when we got there. The teenagers have their electronics(ipods and DS's) and the younger two have their books and coloring things and some of their toys. Its kind of funny. When the kids are home, you are teaching them to share and to be kind to one another. When you go on vacation, you make every effort possible to keep them indiviually entertained. haha! Now when we got to Grandmas house or to Universal (we're in FL), they had to put up with each other. Thankfully if two werent getting along, they walked with Dad or were sent on little errands to get them away from each other. Not all children are the same. This goes for all vacations! The pictures were lovely. Specially the ones that the children are getting along in ;)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing?
    Bus from singapore to kl

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love your site, big thank you to these ideas, and note in the first place that I fully agree with you! Let me emphasize, yes your article was excellent. I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it,
    car for rent singapore

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear what you have to say! I try to respond to as many comments as possible, mostly via email. If you have a question and your email address is not attached to your google profile, I will respond here in the comments.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...