So we are still at the beach and will be for the rest of the week. If you are looking for a relaxing vacation, then I would advise you to stay as far away as possible from us. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on vacation, but it is….different.
A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog that compared going to the beach without kids and going to the beach with kids. And to be honest, the blog nailed it. She listed several differences and everyone of them was correct. So I am posting my thoughts on the same subject, but from a man’s point of view. I’ve always joked with my wife about the differences in vacations then and now. And to be honest, I don’t remember specific things the other blog listed. I just remember agreeing. But anyway, here are the differences from my point of view (sorry about the length but I didn’t want to leave anything out and I’m sure I still did).
When going to the beach pre-children. things are simple. You show you and unpack your one suitcase. You then take a nap. After a nap, you go enjoy your night out on the beach or out on the town and then you come in and sleep….as late as you want. When you wake up the next day, you grab your cooler and some snacks, a towel, and maybe a ball or something to throw around on the beach. You then relax at the beach as long as you desire. You get into the water, but most of the time just in the shallow end to cool off or to throw the ball or frisbee around. Whenever you get tired, you either sleep on your towel or go back to the hotel and sleep. You then wake up, take a shower, go grab some dinner, and then go out on the town (or on the beach). You repeat these steps for the duration of your vacation.
When going to the beach with children, things are never simple. You show up and unpack your 4 suitcases, 4 beach chairs, cooler (for water and Capri-Sun), beach cart (if you’re smart), 454 sand toys, your Puddle Jumpers, 7 floats, and 4 noodles. After unpacking, you decide that the day has been long enough and you want to grab the first edible thing that you see, shove it in front of your kids, give them a couple of minutes to eat, swoop them up, run a toothbrush with water on it across their teeth, and tuck them in. Once you get them tucked in, you and your spouse crawl into bed in the clothes you have had on all day and sleep. Usually at around 6:30 AM, the kids are at your bedside telling you they want to eat breakfast and go to the beach. So you eat breakfast, lather everybody up with SPF 300 lotion, put on bathing suits, fill the cooler with ice and water and kool-aid, fill the beach cart with chairs, towels, and sand toys and haul everything and everybody to the beach. Once you get to the beach, you chase your child that got too close to the water, you get buried in the sand, you build a sand castle, you wade in the shallow water with the younger children, and then you let the 5 year old convince you to swim out past the point where she can touch (and where you can touch). While out there, you smile at her as her Puddle Jumper holds her head above water while you struggle to tread water in order to keep your head up, while refusing to let her know that this is really killing you. You then somehow convince her to go back to shore. Once you crawl out of the water, you see that the draft has carried you 800 yards from your belongs so you start the haul back to the rest of your family. About 10 steps into the haul, your little angel notices that her legs are like noodles and she wants to be carried. Once you finally get back to the family, everyone starts whining and you and your spouse decide to pack up and go back to the room for nap time. You pack things up and you look at your watch and discover that you have spent 2 hours at the beach (20 minutes unpacking, 20 minutes buried in the sand, 15 minutes in shallow water, 20 minutes treading water, 20 minutes walking back to everybody else, 5 minutes deciding that the whining merits leaving, and 20 minutes repacking). Once you arrive back to the room, you lay everybody down and then you lay down to take a nap yourself. Within 5 minutes of laying down, your kids kick into Fireman mode and start working in shifts. The first will cry and whine about the rashes caused by the sand for 40 minutes and then finally fall asleep, and which time the second will start whining about being kept awake by the first one whining and this will last for 40 minutes. Once he falls asleep, then the baby will wake up and scream for 40 minutes until the other two are now awake and ready to go again. You then get everybody a shower, find a “fun” place to eat, wait for an hour and 45 minutes to be seated, and then have a meal with cranky kids because the night has drawn on for too long. Once all three have fallen asleep with their faces in their plates, you load them up, tuck them in, sleep fully clothed again to maximize your sleep, and then wake up 6 hours later to repeat the all process (except the process isn’t repeated, but you repeat a chaotic day nonetheless).
So after all that, I can tell you that pre-children vacation is about relaxing while vacation with children is about seeing the excitement and enjoyment on their faces and putting on a happy face yourself, no matter how tired you may be and you truly love every minute of it.
And I’ll fill you in on a little secret. When at the beach, find the child that appears to be the sleepiest. Then pick up this child, smile at your wife, and “love” on them by holding and rocking them for a bit. If you are lucky, then you may get to sneak in a little nap yourself. It does result in a horrible tan line, but it is well worth the price.
And you may ask how I managed to write this book…I mean blog…while on the vacation I just described. The answer is simple. Sometimes you get lucky and the good Lord rewards you for your hard work. It is raining tonight, so the kids are playing games before they lay down and I am getting a chance to watch the game. The game isn’t much of a game right now, so that little “Hey, you need to blog” voice popped into my head.