My family just came home from a wonderful 10-day trip. That’s a long vacation, especially with a 3 and 4-year-old. For most kids and adults, that is a long time to be out of routine and admittedly, there were some moments where I needed that extra cup of coffee. A vacation is so much more than a break from routine, though. It’s a chance to reconnect, to reassess and of course, relax!
My husband and I tend to alternate days off to keep child care costs down. That means we rarely spend full days together. With long commutes and hectic schedules, our time as a family of four is generally spent getting ready for bed, getting ready for school – basically, getting ready for something. And when you are always getting ready, you rarely get to live in the moment.
Here are 7 things I enjoy most when I’m on vacation with my family:
1. Watch my kids grow
My toddlers are now kids. We’ve visited Walt Disney World at least once a year pretty much since my daughter was born. It’s funny how you can see developmental tent poles in things like character visits and amusement park rides. I’ve watched both kids go from not noticing Mickey at all, to delightful smiles, to being scared, to now – engagement.
2. Spend time with my husband
I realized just how much I missed my husband’s laugh! With money, logistics and the kids to dominate our conversation, I don’t hear his laugh nearly enough at home. I feel most connected with him when there are tears in his eyes from laughing so hard and a smile that can spread joy like no other. There was one fantastic moment where I told a silly joke about a banana that made my son laugh. His reaction was unexpected (no one laughs at my jokes!) and totally contagious. My husband kept coming out with new chuckles even hours later!
3. Spend time with my kids
You notice things more when you are out of the day to day. Our daughter has been having some ‘dramatic’ moments lately. It’s very easy to write those things off to fatigue or hunger or just having a bad day. What we saw on vacation, though, is that there was a pattern to that behavior. That pattern and understanding has ultimately guided our ability to help her.
4. See old friends and family
Travel is an opportunity to see old friends, get closer to your own family, and in one very magical moment, reconnect with a new friend in a way that can only happen at Walt Disney World. We had an unexpected reunion with Cinderella’s Mouse Suzy when she presented us with this lovely card after her 'friend' met us a few years back!
5. Enjoy my children's excitement
I could listen to my son narrate the Electrical Parade every day, all day. The excitement I hear from atop my shoulders as he tells me who is coming next and the action of Captain Hook and Peter Pan’s swordfight is a sweetness that cannot be bottled. He’s generally the quieter of my kids so I love to hear how he sees and experiences the world.
6. Keep up with my family (with the help of caffeine)
Starbucks is my friend on vacation. I am not someone who visits them often at home but in Walt Disney World, they were pretty much always my first stop. (By the end of the vacation, I actually remembered that I give the name ‘Lucas’ and picked up my latte on automatic the first time it was called.)
I may not have found it but I was happy to return to the place where I proposed to and married my husband to give him a new wedding ring. Both of our rings no longer fit and couldn’t be resized well. After his slipped off on a previous trip, it seemed only fitting that I replace it in a place that was so special to our family!
All that said, there’s one word that keeps coming up as I write – TOGETHER. (I know because I keep having to edit to avoid overuse!) I loved that we could enjoy the wonder of this vacation as the Strouse FAMILY and that is the most important thing of all!