Parenthood, I have learned, is all about expectation management. The things that I had expected to be knock-your-socks-off-amazing — childbirth, holidays, and just about every birthday party — were big freaking letdowns. And little things — family bike rides, ice cream on a school night, breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day — were mind-blowingly fantastic.
Here’s my advice: If you want to avoid disappointment, set low expectations. Very low. Because as they say, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And sometimes just when you think things can’t get worse, they do. I learned this (for the millionth time actually) on a recent family vacation when my younger son spent not one, not two, not three, but four days with a never-ending bout of the stomach flu (replete with explosive diarrhea, projectile vomiting, and a trip to the ER). I guess it’s just Murphy’s Law of life with kids: if it can go wrong, you might as well expect it — heck, PLAN on it — and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of disappointment.
1. Your child will get sick the day you leave – likely with an illness that involves puking or requires antibiotics, or maybe both.
2. Flights will be delayed, your luggage will be lost, and the rental car company will have just rented the very last minivan.
3. Your “family-friendly” resort will be overrun with so many rambunctious kids and exhausted parents that no one will be feeling particularly friendly.
4. If you travel somewhere warm, the weather will be unseasonably cold. Meanwhile, back at home, there will be a heat wave.
5. You will forget to pack your kid’s blankie, lovie, or other irreplaceable comfort item.
6. As soon as one kid has recovered from whatever illness they had, another kid will catch it. Repeat for the rest of the trip until you get home, at which point you will get sick.
7. The kids’ meals at the hotel restaurant will be more expensive than a date night back at home. A couple of margaritas will cost more than your monthly mortgage.
8. You will make multiple trips to Walmart or Target for all the things you forgot to pack.
9. Your kids will be up at the crack of dawn – every. damn. day.
10. Once back at home, however, you will have to drag your kids out of bed for school in the morning, you will have mountains of laundry to do, your credit card bill will rival the GDP of a small country, you will have thousands of unanswered emails to return, your voicemail will be full, and you will be sick with whatever bug your kids had without any vacation time left.
And this, my friends, is why they call it traveling with kids, NOT vacation.
Related post: 5 Tips for Surviving A Flight With Young Children