How To Manage Your Kid's Hangover From Fun

by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Originally Published: 
vacation with kids
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Once when lamenting how vacations with children are not what they used to be, my wise friend said, “When you travel with kids, it’s not a vacation, it’s a trip.”

Isn’t that true? I love going away with my children. It’s wonderful to have a change of scenery and make memories together. That said, I never leave feeling rested. And let’s talk about those three days post-vacation with kids. In our house, we call it The Hangover From Fun.

What is The Hangover From Fun?

The Hangover From Fun is what happens to children in the hours and days following a fun event. You no sooner walk through those doors when the tears and drama begin.

It doesn’t matter if you had a magical vacation during which the stars aligned and all of your children ate, slept, and behaved well the entire time or if you had one of those pull-your-hair-out vacations where no one sleeps, kids fight, and headaches occur.

The Hangover From Fun happens regardless.

I used to think that The Hangover From Fun was just a phase. I attributed it to the fact that I had babies, or that I was pregnant again, or because I was still up nursing at night, or because the kids were so young and still needed naps. I now have an 8-year-old, 6 ½-year-old, and 4-year-old and that dreaded Hangover From Fun “phase” has yet to pass.

Does The Hangover From Fun happen only after vacations?

Nope! The Hangover From Fun is not limited to vacations. No sir-ee! The Hangover From Fun happens after every major holiday and following every out-of-town visitor’s departure. It can even happen on…CHRISTMAS MORNING.

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

It can even happen 15 minutes into Christmas morning!

Can The Hangover From Fun ever happen while on vacation?

Sometimes, if you have an extended vacation, and especially if you’ve been having a super-fun summer, The Hangover From Fun can appear prematurely while you are still on vacation. Here are some photos from our most recent vacation to Cape Cod to visit our beloved Nana and Papa. You can see clearly that The Hangover From Fun came early!

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Crying because someone took his shell…on a beach filled with shells.

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Her carrot was too chewy.

Will The Hangover From Fun ever go away?

Folks, I do not know. We are over seven years into this parenting gig and The Hangover From Fun has not relented. It remains, tried and true, just waiting for us to walk through those doors.

The Hangover From Fun is the reason why, when people ask me if we are planning a Disney trip in the future, I burst out laughing like a raging lunatic. You could not pay me to take these crabalicious little people to Disney and back. Not unless you’re sending me elsewhere post-trip, preferably Kauai, so that I can avoid what is sure to be an EPIC Hangover From Fun.

Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Not. A. Chance.

What Can I do about The Hangover From Fun?

I’m right there in the trenches with you, mamas. Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to combat this dreaded buzzkill:

– Plan for it. If you expect it, you’ll be less frazzled by it.

Put those kids to bed early each night the week of your homecoming.

Put yourself to bed early that first week too. You’ll need all the help you can get.

Have a sense of humor. The vacation was fun, wasn’t it? Focus on that and then laugh about the rest. Take in-the-moment photos of your children in the throes of The Hangover From Fun (see above) and text them to your husband while he is at work, complete with humorous captions. This serves as not only as a form of comedic relief, but also as a warning: both that he’s going to walk into a house full of crabby kiddos, and also that he should be a little bit nicer than usual to the woman who has been dealing with it all day long.

Plan an activity. Help distract your children from their hangovers with an activity. Get outside, plan an art project, or pop in a good movie!

If things look grim, put in a movie, serve them cereal for dinner, and pour a glass of wine. This too shall pass!

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