As a family, one thing we believe very strongly is that we need to take breaks. Forced stops in our lives. We spend days at home doing 1000 piece puzzles. We go to the zoo, or the park. We take bike rides, go to the movies or just for a drive on the coast. sometimes a few hours is not enough.
We try to go on a vacation at least once a year, sometimes twice. Our favorite destination is Disney World, and I know what you are about to say, “did you win the lottery? Disney twice in a year? WHAT?!” We certainly have not won the lottery, but in a way we have. Seven years ago we decided to become members of Disney’s Vacation Club. It is a time share program that is supper flexible for users. We can travel any time of year, and stay at any resort on or off Disney property. Our new favorite location is Disney’s Vero Beach. We will be staying there this summer. The nice thing is we pay a “mortgage” every month for our vacation time share, so we do not have a huge out of pocket expense for our hotel when we travel. And it is a ten year loan for 50 years of vacations, so the investment now will last a lifetime!
The nice thing about Vero Beach is that it is a beach resort. Truthfully the most relaxing vacation you will go on. Your options are swim in the ocean, or swim in the pool. There are many other activities, but no parks, no lines (except for the awesome water slide!), and no rush.
They also have a Sea Turtle Conservation team on site, so it is an educational trip as well (sorry kids!). We are so excited to stop.
For Mama, the most stressful part of these vacations is packing. With my husband and three boys in tow, it is super important to be organized. I always have a mini panic attack, and packing usually starts a month out. This time, it didn’t, and I was cool as a cucumber. I made sure to have a plan a few months ago so that I would not be stressed. I truthfully start with a basket in my room, and as I go through the day to day, if I think we need it for vacation, it goes in the basket. This way, a month later I am not saying “Where did I see that?” It is my quirky way of doing things.
I always make a list. I probably have several packing lists on my computer. This time, I wanted to pack lighter. I do not think that happened, but what did happen was a chance for me to share my organization with my boys. The list started like this:
I always just brainstorm a list, thinking of things we may need. Essentials, things for the pool and the beach, then what do my boys need to have (don’t worry we have a washer in unit). And then the things I know my husband will need. (he always decides for sure, I just suggest.) and then finally things for me, and then things for everyone. It makes it easier to sort if I start with topics, then add to them. I asked the boys to look at the list and tell me if I missed anything they would want. I told them the things they needed, and one by one they collected the items, and we packed their bags. The other thing we do is the boys bags are BIG, so we utilize their bags to pack board games and puzzles and things we can do on rainy days, or in the evening. I love that we do this as a team and everyone knows what they are bringing. There was a time I would have packed for them. I realize now, I need to enable them to be able to do it on their own.
After packing (as if I am finished!) the list looks like this:
We pack, scratch off, change, add, we forget things and then we remember. We highlight things we still need to pack, and cross off what is packed. We take things out of the bags because it is still summer, and we have de-cluttered our wardrobes, so we need clothes! Right now, the bottom of my stairs is filled with bags. I so hate the feeling of un-organization packing can bring, but I love the excitement that we are going somewhere!
We don’t enjoy flying.The stress of what you can and cannot pack, the kids, the air pressure in the ears, the motion sickness for some, it just is way stressful. Once we went through security and one of the boys did not follow through. that was a stressful time. I just do not like the uncertainty of flying. If we can, we drive. Usually we drive straight through and arrive at our destination in less than 24hours. We stop for the bathroom or a snack, or a meal. We stop to stretch.This time we have decided to stop along the way, breaking up our 24 hour trip into 3 days. It is going to be exciting and maybe stressful. We have planned stops, and made sure they had pools and ocean views!
To keep the kids occupied for the trip we have a DVD player, headphones, I-pods with their favorite songs, books, paper, colored pencils, kindles, snacks, and Lego boxes that I made.They are craft boxes that I glued a green Lego board to the cover of, and made a pocket for the Legos so they can play them on their lap! These come in handy in the car, and in the resort when each child needs their own space to play or stash a favorite toy or treasure!
We also know that we are not millionaires and we have not won the lottery. We are very careful about planning activities that work for our budget. We will do Walt Disney World with all of the bells and whistles. We buy tickets way far ahead, plan reservations, utilize the dining plan, and ask for gift cards for birthdays/holidays to help defray the cost. We also have been enough that we do not need to do everything every time. That is why a pool/ocean vacation is so great for this trip. We know we can have a lot of fun, for very little money, and make amazing memories! That makes the trip less stressful for Steve who works so hard to earn for our family. I appreciate that our cell phone service is weak there so we are limited to wi-fi in the room, and family outside. I think every family can find a way to either have a getaway vacation, or even a “stay-cation” to have some time to breathe and just be.