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Vacationing With Kids: The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Me and the whole fam enjoying a tropical forest and waterfall in Hawaii.
Me and the whole fam enjoying a tropical forest and waterfall in Hawaii.

So it appears that all of us with school aged kids have survived Spring Break — the two week long Spring Break if your kids are in Washoe County School District.

For this year’s Spring Break, I made my lifelong dream of going to Hawaii come true for myself…  With my two kids in tow and meeting up with 10 other members of my family.  My husband said he doesn’t really like Hawaii (say what?!) and he opted to stay behind and ski.  As much as I love skiing and my hubby, the warm sandy beaches of Hawaii were calling to me, so I made the decision to take the two kids to Hawaii by myself.

I know on the surface, it sounds a bit crazy to take my kids on such a big trip solo, but keep in mind I had a bevvy of family members to act as my extra eyes, ears and hands — grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

There are so many adjectives I can use to describe the trip: wonderful, beautiful, memorable, fun, adventurous…

But it was also downright exhausting.  It reminded me that vacationing with kids is simultaneously a wonderful and a wonderfully challenging experience.

In all my years dreaming of going to Hawaii, I never pictured that it would come with two kids that never adjusted to the local time, and would be bouncing off the walls at 5:30am.

Snorkeling in Hawaii
Me snorkeling with my daughter once she had gotten over her coral issues.

I tried to use their early rising to my advantage.  The first day they did this, we ended up being the first people at the local snorkel beach.  Before entering the shallow water, I reminded the kids that they needed to be careful not to touch the coral — both because they could get cut by it, but also they could damage the coral itself, which is vital to the fish.

What I learned after I had the two kids out snorkeling in the four foot deep water was that my daughter thought every rock in the ocean was coral, and she immediately exhibited an irrational fear of coral.  The girl that dreams of being a mermaid was practically having a panic attack, picturing herself being cut to pieces and a death by coral.

There was crying.

There was screaming.

And then, her now infamous pronouncement of, “I HATE HAWAII!”

Of course her irrational fear then transferred to her brother, and I had two crying snorkelers in tow at 6:30 in the morning and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

*sigh* Before kids, a vacation like this would have included sleeping in and then a long, self indulgent swim with the beautiful tropical fish.  But on this kid inclusive vacation, I found myself trying to convince my children that the coral would not kill them, and for the Love of God to just relax and float over the coral instead of letting their feet sink down towards it (the water was pretty shallow at this beach).

The girl that threw her shoe.
The girl that threw her shoe.

Let’s now fast forward to the second morning on our vacation, where my lovelies let me sleep to the late hour of 5:45am, and woke me up bouncing up and down shouting, “turtles! turtles!”

You see, they had overheard me talking to the front desk of the hotel when the woman had mentioned a nearby turtle beach where you could see the baby turtles crawling from the beach into the ocean if you arrived at the beach at sunrise.

Being the good sport that I am, I got up, once again left the condo at 6am without my coffee (I had mistakenly decided to rely on the hotel free coffee, but that wasn’t available until the more decent hour of 7am).

On that morning, I drove us out to the turtle beach, and ended up having to walk over a mile of lava rocks (in our flip flops mind you) to the beach.  By the time we made it over the lava rocks, we emerged onto a sandy beach with hundreds of holes in the ground and no turtles.

I can’t tell you how many curses I said in my head that day at the turtles, and at the lady at the front desk that sent us on this trek over lava rocks when I later found I could have parked mere feet from the beach had I taken a different road to the beach.

A rare moment of rest.
A rare moment of rest.

We hung out at that beach for a while, and I eventually announced to the kids it was time to go back to the condo for breakfast.  My daughter went to put her shoes on and began freaking out because there was sand on her feet.  I tried to help her, but in her tired stupor, she got irrationally upset over the sand on her feet, so I eventually placed the shoes on the beach and told her “you are on a beach.  There will be sand on your feet.  Deal with it.”  I began walking away, and this was the point SHE THREW HER SHOE AT ME, and it totally hit me.

I admit that all sense of patience was lost at this point.  I had taken my kids to this bleepity bleep turtle beach at an unGodly hour and I had been an amazingly good sport about it all — especially without my coffee — AND SHE THREW A SHOE AT ME!  We recovered, but not without some very typical mother-daughter drama.

Alas, my son was  full of challenges on the trip as well.  I can’t tell you how many times I said to him, “why are you crying?!  There’s no crying in Hawaii!”  Because let’s face it, when you take kids out of their natural surroundings and schedule, they are much more apt to lose their shit every so often.  Or multiple times a day if you’re my five year old son.

This was taken moments before we all got taken out by waves.
This was taken moments before we all got taken out by waves.

My son was full of fits about nonsensical things, such as refusing to go to the beach because he just wanted to go to the pool (to which I responded — tough, we don’t go to the pool in Hawaii!).  He also developed an irrational hatred for wearing wet swimsuits, so as I’d be driving us from the beach back to the condo, there would be crying, and then I’d look back to find him completely naked in the backseat.  I can’t tell you how many times I said, “why are you naked?!  We are two minutes from the condo!”  At one time, my husband called me right after one of these naked incidents, and I told him, “it’s a wild Spring Break.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a naked boy passed out in the back seat of my car.”

I also can’t tell you how many times I paid an exorbitant amount of money to feed the children at a Hawaiian restaurant to have them tell me on the way back to the condo, “I’M HUNGRY!”  Vacationing makes kids HUNGRY, and I found that a supply of snacks that would have normally lasted weeks was gone within days.

My son was enamored with boogie boarding.
My son was enamored with boogie boarding.

Then there was the boogie boarding outing on our last day…  The waves were really kicking, and the kids and I tried to get out with our boogie boards, just to be flattened by waves and rolled onto lava rocks that had been hidden by the water mere moments before.  I think that outing was a record — both kids crying and bleeding within 10 seconds of beginning the activity!

I share this with you for camaraderie, as we all know that everyone’s Spring Break vacation pictures looked downright fabulous on Facebook, but can we all just acknowledge that vacationing with kids can also be downright exhausting and at times very trying?  It’s totally a first world problem.  My trip to Hawaii truly was a vacation of a lifetime, with priceless memories made with my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews.  I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am for my family’s help as I undertook this challenge.  But I also have to admit that having the kids head back to school this week and me head back to work has re-established a sense of normalcy to our lives, which means many less fits and fights.

And Murphy’s Law would have it that my kids are now trying their best to adjust to Hawaii time, as I’m having to drag them out of bed in time to make it to school (funny how that works).

Did you venture out on a trip for Spring Break?  Share your experiences below!  




About Lynnette Bellin

Lynnette Bellin
Lynnette Bellin is the former owner and site manager of the Reno Moms Blog. She is a married mother of a teenage daughter and a highly energetic tween boy. Lynnette moved to Reno in 2001 after choosing to live in a place that she loved for its natural beauty. She has written four children's books, including The Kindness Ninja and a series of three books called Adeline’s Magical Moments Collection. She has been obsessed with blogging since 2002. Lynnette loves to experience outdoor adventures in our area, including skiing, hiking, camping, and open water swimming. She spends her days working from home for a NYC ad agency and shuttling kids to dance, lacrosse and basketball.

One comment

  1. This is so funny! Thank you for sharing. It does make me feel better about some of my very much planned outings with my toddler girl.

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