Don't get me wrong. I love vacationing with my kids. The older they get, the easier it gets. But it can also be totally exhausting and by the end start to feel a little less... vacation-y.
When my kids were very small we made many trips to visit family on Prince Edward Island. It was family time 24/7. Trips to the beach, finding kid-friendly restaurants (lobster? no way), endless games of I Spy, and lots of car rides to get kids back on a nap schedule. Lazing by the pool? Reading a novel? Notsomuch.
Then, we discovered the 'kids club.' And my whole perspective on what made a great family vacation changed for good.
It all began at cottage-country resort where we travelled with extended family. I had no illusions of adult time or real relaxation. We thought we'd enjoy the pool, the beach, and the family activities with our 3-year-old and 6-month-old baby in tow. I pictured hiding out in our room during nap time and hoping I might read a chapter or two of a new novel.
Upon checking in, we were given a sheet of paper with all of the events for the week. And then I saw it—the Kids Club. With programs for babies right up to teens, this place had activities galore for each age group. Not only during the day, but during the adult dinner time. And you could DROP THEM OFF.
Well, you had me at "drop them off." Our 3-year-old had just entered the magic age of unparented programs, and fortunately the 6-month-old was one of those 'pass me around' babies. My love of the Kids Club was born.
My husband and I ate dinner alone for 3 consecutive nights
something we hadn't done since pre-kiddo time—and the kids enjoyed the company of their cousins and made new friends at the Kids Club. (At least that's what we told ourselves. By Day 2, the Kids Club was no longer 'optional'!) The baby napped at the nursery, I took an art class, and my husband won the tennis tournament. We were really in family vacation heaven.
I will admit, the 3-year-old was just about 'done' with the dropping off by the end of the vacation, but we balanced mornings at the Kids Club with afternoon family time in the pool, which my husband and I had much more enthusiasm and energy for after a few hours off-duty.
That's when we realized that holidays are for everyone. Whether it's finding a place with tennis courts nearby so that hubby can get a few games in, or locating an outlet mall where mom can escape to after bedtime, planning a family vacation needs to take into account ALL members of the family.
It doesn't have to be a full-on Kids Club either. You can use a babysitting service on vacation, travel with another family and spell off evening sitting so that one couple gets a night out, or just implement (the dreaded) quiet time after lunch where mom and dad can veg out (this is a great time to use the electronic babysitter).
All I'm saying is, it's YOUR vacation too. No, you're not going to get back the interrupted lazy days of lying on a beach, but I think planning time for the grown-ups is a pretty important part of a successful family vacation.
So the next time you're online, surfing for a travel destination—do what I do—make sure "Kids Club" is part of your google search!
My kids are a few years older now, but we've continued to work on making family trips for everyone. We're about to take a road trip to a ski resort in Quebec. And yes, they're signed up for the Ski Camp!
This blog was written by one of our momstown mamas who loves to travel as long as there is a Kids Club!