My husband and I made the decision to take a week-long family trip to Washington D.C. in early summer. Plane tickets were purchased, and hotel reservations were made several months in advance (all 100% refundable, of course). There was planning, packing, and slight panicking. But, now that our trip has come to an end and we’re back home, I am here to report that we survived and, dare I say, had some moments of thriving.
My kids are young – 4½ and newly 2. My expectations would need to be adjusted for how this trip would go as well as pack a few extra doses of patience. There were definitely times of doubt that we’d make it through these 7 days/6 nights away from home. The first night on our trip, I barely slept after an exhausting day of travel. All I could think about was how I made a huge mistake even attempting this trip. After a shower and lots of coffee the next morning, I persevered, and as we began touring D.C., it became clear why taking the time away is so important for us:
- New places, experiences, and environments. My 4-year-old had been pumped for this trip since we mentioned it to her in the Spring. She knew we’d see museums, monuments, and the White House, as well as spend time with her aunt and uncle. While all of those things were true, it’s clear that being in these new and different places helps my kids (and me, honestly) work on basic life skills. We don’t get out much, even at home, so taking on a big adventure where we’re experiencing new things together helps expose us to the world in ways that will benefit us beyond just the trip. And while it’s likely my 2-and 4-year-old won’t have super-lasting memories of this trip, it still feels like a drop in the life experience bucket that will be valuable as we hopefully travel more in the future.
- Break away from the daily routine. I need routine, and by default, my kids also need routine. But there were times where it felt like bending my own rules would allow us to experience the beauty of being away from home. Late bedtime to play in the splashpad outside our hotel? Ok! Or go see fireworks at Mt. Vernon with Uncle and Aunt? Yep, did that, too. I also fed my kids ice cream for lunch one day. Vacation mom = fun mom.
- Reconnect. I don’t know one family that’s not constantly busy and/or simply bogged down by everyday life. We are no exception. Full-time work, full-time daycare – we get into the daily rut quickly and lose track of what’s important. During the week together, we laughed, snuggled, even cried together. Through all this, I was able to even see how much our kids are growing. Our 4-year-old was a HUGE helper and all-around trooper when she was forced to walk a bunch. And we learned that even our 2-year-old has his limits and asked for a “mama hug” when he wasn’t in the mood for his usual rambunctious antics (I happily obliged to every request, btw).
Don’t be mistaken – we had plenty of meltdowns (including on the airplane … yep). I think that just comes with the territory with this age group AND being away from home. However, as with most things in life, the tough times are often the times where you learn the most about yourself … and, in this case … where we learned even more about our little family. My own lesson learned – take the trip. It’s worth it!