Our most recent trip last week really made it clear how important it is to get away as a family sometimes. We were nervous that taking a vacation with a baby wouldn’t be relaxing at all, but by picking a really family-friendly area and resort and planning ahead, we had an amazing time. We had a chance to really bond and enjoy James without work and the other daily distractions, and I’m so glad we went. It gave us unlimited time with James, which I really miss on the daily when I’m at work and I could tell he really loved having all our attention and focus. He was so well behaved the whole time and I think it’s because he wasn’t trying to fight for our attention, and because he was really stimulated and got lots of chances to run around. We learned a lot from our first solo trip with James (without other family), so I thought I’d share what I learned about taking a vacation with a baby.
Some things that helped were renting a villa with two bedrooms and a crib so James could sleep in his own room at night and during his nap time. It also gave us lots of space for James to run around and play during down time so we could relax after a long day of exploring and during his naps. We borrowed a monitor from friends and it worked out great and gave me added peace of mind. He slept well for the most part and so did we. We also brought his umbrella stroller and our baby carrier – that way he could nap on the go and we could carry or push him during long walks when he tired of running (he doesn’t walk, he runs). The stroller was also helpful for snack time or if the restaurant didn’t have a high chair. We did a lot of long walks in the morning and he could eat a bagel or cereal in the stroller while we sipped coffee and woke up.
One of my top tips for taking a vacation with a baby is to relax a bit on the schedules and really everything. We really tried to just relax about the schedule and everything else — what he ate, what he wore, if he made a mess, schedules, etc. Some nights he was up past his bedtime so we could go out to eat. Some nights he had ice cream for dinner and not much else, but we just went with it because it allowed us to have a better time and it was vacation. We knew we’d be back to veggies and 7:30 bedtime in a few days. And you know what? He’s transitioned back beautifully without much fuss.
And honestly, there was nothing better than spending time just enjoying James, watching him explore, having fun the three of us, and not stressing about all the parenting stuff and just savoring the moment. Sure there were some tense times on the flight, in restaurants, when he didn’t want to go in the bike seat we had rented, but overall, we were pretty meltdown free. Allowing him to run around and explore made it so much more enjoyable for us all, and he really loved exploring the beach as a walking man and running around free without having to stick to the city sidewalks. I know we all have so many excuses why we can’t take off or get away, but this past week was just a reminder to me how important and special it is to take time to just be together as a family and forget about work and everything else. And if you’re nervous that vacation with kids isn’t really vacation, well, yes it’s not as completely relaxing as it was pre-kids when you could sleep, eat, do whatever you wanted in peace, I feel like I didn’t always enjoy my vacations pre-kids quite so much. We slept late, went out and partied, and didn’t always force ourselves out the door to explore and take full advantage of the day/the area/the resort. With James, sure, we couldn’t exactly sleep in or go out partying, but we explored every restaurant, almost every site and activity, and while I look forward to returning when he’s old enough that we can play tennis together and maybe some golf, I feel like we really got a chance to take full advantage of being in this beautiful spot and being together, and despite a rocky solo flight home, I am excited to travel a lot more with James.