As I shopped for groceries yesterday, I overheard two women talking about taking their kids to Disney World. I was expecting to hear how exciting it was. Instead, they discussed how “it’s not really a vacation,” “it’s too much work,” and how “by lunchtime, all of the adults are exhausted.” I didn’t want it to be true, but a part of me suspected it was so.
Last month, my husband and I took Olivia on her first trip and our first family vacation. We swapped the below-zero temperatures of New York for sunny Puerto Rico. We had been looking forward to the holiday for weeks and as much as I was excited to strip myself of my winter clothes, I was just as excited about experiencing this first with Olivia.
I was nervous, like most parents, about the plane ride. I booked the flights according to her sleep schedule. The trip there was a breeze. She slept the entire flight and not even a little pressure in the ears could dampen her mood. Success!
A day at the beach with children, however, is not necessarily a day at the beach. With our tot in tow, we headed to the popular beach of Isla Verde in San Juan. We settled into our beach chairs, ordered some cocktails, and tried to soak in the sun, especially since we wouldn’t be seeing any of it when we got back to New York.
I hadn’t even taken a sip from my mojito when I noticed Olivia had spotted a dog not-so-nearby. (Dogs are allowed on beaches.) Without hesitation, she ran to the dog, and I chased after her. I brought her back and tried to distract her with her beach toys.
“Let’s build a castle!” I told her.
But she saw another dog and ran over to that one, too. Not only did she pet the dog, but she also climbed onto the couple’s beach chairs, rolled around with the dog, and helped herself to their fruit salad. Did I mention she was covered in sand? The couple said she was “adorable,” but my husband and I were mortified. Needless to say, it was a short beach day.
Being at the beach with Olivia definitely felt less like a vacation and more like a regular, working-mom day. But some part of me hopes that a trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth” will truly be magical. Hey, I enjoy Disney, too, which is why I dream of taking my children and making it a really special trip. Hearing those mothers’ experiences just gave me a reality check on how much responsibility is involved when traveling with kids. So, when we finally do decide to go to Disney, we’re getting two extra tickets: one for each grandmother! With a little extra help, it just might be a very happy place for all of us.