Do You Actually Relax & Enjoy Your Family Vacations?

Updated on April 06, 2015
K.H. asks from Lindenhurst, NY
31 answers

If so, how do you do that exactly? :)

My in laws have scheduled a fairly last minute trip for us all to St. Petes, Florida. We are going to take the kids to explore NASA & such. I love the idea of vacations but they always just stress me out! I'm so grateful to my in-laws for all that they do & I'm just finding it hard to rally on this one.
We will be gone the entire length of the kids spring break, from Sunday-Sunday so we will have zero down time before the kids have to go back to school....& we are flying bright & early on Easter Sunday, which is really not that cool :(
In theory, a week on the beach at a beautiful resort sounds amazing...I just wish I was one of those people who could relax & enjoy it...but I'm not!
As I currently sit with ice on my lip because I'm totally getting a cold sore! Stoopid stress!

The kids are SO excited! It's the only thing that keeps me looking on the bright side. Wish I wasn't such a Debbie-Downer!
Anyone out there like me? If so, any helpful hints on how to actually relax?

As always, any & all opinions welcomed & appreciated!

Thanks guys!

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So What Happened?

No we are not going to the Pink Castle! I saw that place when I started looking at where we are going, it looks gorgeous!
We are staying somewhere called Island Grand-TradeWinds Resort? It looks like a kid's heaven.

If the cousins & Aunties& Uncles wre coming I could see how that would be more fun...but this is just us & The Grands.

Featured Answers



answers from Seattle on

Yes, I'm with you! We had a very quiet spring break as a kid-staycation while the grown-ups juggled working at home. We all enjoyed the down time. No packing, time-management, etc. So much easier. I do love vacations with the kids, but they are stressful and I have to remind myself that I'm doing that to make memories. Once I'm at the beach, I do relax, but all the planning and leading up to it takes it's toll. Try to have fun. :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I love vacations! It is so nice to spend time just going with the flow and forgetting about schedule.

I would like to ask what you are stressed about?

My perspective is that if I forget something - every town has a Target or Walmart. So no need to stress about remembering every little thing. And going to the beach is great. All you really really need to bring is bathing suits. The kids entertain themselves in the pool and at the beach.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

We do enjoy vacations. Usually when we're gone longer than 3-4 days, we take a set of grandparents. Let the grandparents take the kids to dinner one night, so you and hubby can go out on a date. The kids will have a great time!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I love vacations and absolutely I will relax while on vacation.

For one thing, instead of thinking "we will have zero down time before the kids have to go back to school" try to to think of it as "we have a week of down time *at the beach*"!

I'm guessing you will get a break from cooking and cleaning, and having grandparents and your husband there in addition to all the resort activities means you won't be in charge of entertaining the kids.

The only other thing I can think to add is that as women and mothers we tend to place many expectations on ourselves and assume that other people (our families, our friends) place those expectations on us as well. Most of the time, that's not true. Likely no one expects you to take care of all the planning, packing, entertainment, pre- and post- vacation cleaning. If you forget sunscreen and underwear, you'll buy them there. If your dirty laundry stays in the suitcase for several days after you get back, you likely have other clothing. Why worry about all the incidentals when there is the beach, the water, the waves, and the sun, you know?

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I really don't understand. I know that you need to do things like make sure you have clothes, shoes, meds (?), cash, etc, but what is there to stress about.

I get a little stress before leaving for a trip because I don't want to forget anything. But once we get going, I let it all go. If we forgot something, we forgot it. We will buy it at a store or find a way to get it or do without it for a week.

What exactly is it about vacations that you find stressful?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are stressed because you have been busy ready getting ready for this trip. (Set out school clothes now before you leave so you do not become stressed there or on the trip home and worried about what the kids are going to where on that first Monday back. Once you reach your destination, relax! Bring a good book to read and go off by yourself and wind down. Get up early in the morning and take a solitary walk on the beach alone or with your spouse. You all do not have to do everything together. Let your inlaws take care of your kids one night and go out on a date. Make meal time easy at your resort --enjoy cooking as a family, order out or go out to eat. NASA is on the Florida East Coast (unless they have added a facility in the St. Pete area) and it would be a several hour ride, so I would find other things to do in the Tampa/St Pete area. Bring a game or two for everyone to play together at night in the hotel. Hope you all have a great trip. Bring lots of sun screen.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I think maybe you need to take one day of that vacation and totally veg out.
Hand the kids over to Hubby and/or in-laws while you do your own thing for one whole day - sleep, beach, relax, do nothing for no one - show up for dinner.
You need to have a little something just for you to look forward to and that will help you look forward to these vacations.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I just got back from what should have been a relaxing trip to Catalina Island. Talk about no stress, you can walk the whole town in 5 minutes, no need for taxis, no traffic. Just beaches, restaurants.....except, we took our three young children and I think I relaxed for exactly 2.5 minutes once on the beach. I was wiped when we got back. Here is my conclusion on the matter. Parenthood is the end of relaxation, even on vacation. Sure you grab your two hour date once in a blue moon, or the occasional weekend away from kids, or the 8 minutes in the bath tub. But, in the same way your parents made memories for you (and probably didn't get to relax much either), now its your turn. Someday your kids will be grown, or older. You won't have to pack everyones bags, or keep track of their ware a bouts and you will relax again. But even "relaxing" beach resort vacations aren't relaxing with kids. They can't be. Theres too much to juggle, keep track of, plan, arrange, schedule. Even on vacation. Get over the expectation of relaxing and enjoy watching your kids have fun. Really, just get over any notion that you relax on vacation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes! I love, love, love vacations, and so does everyone in our family! We have a trip to Dauphin Island planned for a week in July and we're all so excited! I think the trick for us is to not over-plan each day. We like to wing it and have lots of time to explore and just do whatever we feel like doing. Down time is important to us on vacation, too.

I hope you end up having a great time!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Have a large glass of wine. You will relax and love your vacation😊. Enjoy!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yes. I do!
Your kids all seem to be past the very stressful baby or toddler years, so it should be much easier to enjoy it.
Don't overschedule.
Plan a day or two to do nothing more than veg at the pool/beach.
Don't start the day at the crack of dawn.
Don't try 8-9:00 dinners with 5 kids.
Cook a few dinners in--dragging kids out to eat can be beyond stressful.
Maybe your inlaws can take the kids out for ice cream/lunch/dinner for an hour or two and you & hubs can do something alone.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

"vacations" never really are relaxing....I think it's because ours have not been "just one location" - last summer I was gone a month with my boys to travel with my dad in his motor home...and he let me drive it ( about stress!! LOL!!)

Any way - when other people are involved - their expectations have to be met as well so it makes it stressful to make sure everyone is happy!!!

What I would do? Is see if you can be involved in the scheduling of activities so you KNOW what is going on....and see what other people that are joining you are expecting as well....

last of all - can choose to just lay back and let it happen.

Have a blast!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I do relax on vacation and my recent one in Miami with my daughter was the best. We did nothing but stay on the beach all day, shop a little, eat out and get room service.

I still do my work on my phone or IPad but I do not take my laptop along. My laptop has all of my QuickBooks and such and I make sure I am caught up on all AP/AR before I leave.

Now a vacation like you describe... I can see the fun in it with the children being together and with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents but that would kindof stress me out because I like to be independent and do things on my own time.

Try to carve out some time with just you and hubby and use that to chill out a little. What resort are you going to? Don Cesar is great and has a great spa.

Have fun!

ETA: It does not sound like as big of a group as I thought when I read your question. Still.. find time to be with hubby and let the children enjoy grands! Have a great bottle of wine and chill out on the beach!! Yes, the pink castle is a wonderful spot!!

ETA 2: I forgot...... Last time we were in Tampa at the pink palace, we went on a dolphin cruise which was a lot of fun. We saw lots of dolphins, great picture taking and relaxing!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Mostly, yes. That is, if DH hasn't crammed our itinerary and isn't grouchy and we aren't trying to drag around sullen teenagers. My DD is an awesome little traveler and we did PR last year and had a lot of fun. DH even had fun, and we had a skeleton idea of what we wanted to do, no pressure. I think if you are stressed out all the time, think about why. Do you want things to be *just so*, do you do too much or does someone else in the group want to do more/different? We are going to the Outer Banks this year and I've already said that DD and I will see Kitty Hawk while DH does his own thing. Last time I did Kitty Hawk with my mom. DH prefers vacations where he looks out at some body of water and I prefer vactions where I see the sights. We have to compromise most years.

Is this a stress because it's something the ILs scheduled that you did not get a say in? If so, take time for yourselves, and don't let others dictate your plans. BAIL as necessary to enjoy your trip. If you are going to be with the ILs, then yay - babysitters! Let them take the kids here and there and relax.

And for the future, I would tell the grands that traveling on Easter when the kids need to go to school on Monday (is that right?) makes it really hard. You can be grateful and still explain your plight.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Well if you're like me crowds and large gatherings are exhausting and just too much. So make schedule some time each day where it's just you and your immediate family (hubby and kids). Book some spa time or time alone in the room while or beaching enjoying a book while Dad is on DUTY. Grands can step up and help him...maybe they can even babysit so you guys can have a date night on your 7 day trip.

Let us know how it goes

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Yes, I am able to relax and enjoy the vacation. What works for me is to live in the moment knowing that I can handle whatever happens. Each night or each morning while having a cup of coffee I go over the plans for that day. Then I go with the flow. I do not micromanage. I really only manage transportation. I loosely manage timing so that we are where we want to be close to the time events start. I'm willing to change if what I've planned ahead of time with the family isn't working.

Over the years of experience i've learned that everything does work out OK. I was a chaperone for high school kids traveling from Oregon to D.C. by way of Boston and Cleveland. Because I was responsible, along with 2 other adults, for 40 teens I did have to stay on my toes. Even with the unplanned incidents that go along with family and these teens I enjoyed every trip.

With the teens, we had a written agenda with which we could be somewhat flexible. Because there were 3 chaperones one of us could manage a situation that involved one or a few teens while the others continued to stay with the schedule. We also spelled each other at times so that each of us could have alone time.

I suggest that you share responsibility with your husband and in-laws. Talk together about the next day so that you can let go for a few hours. Know that the success of the trip does not depend onLy on you. Accept the imperfections as they arise. On the extensive trip we often had one person stand in line for tickets or to gain entrance while the other two entertained the kids near by.

Yes, I was anxious, especially on the first trip, but I had a good time by being aware of my own needs and taking care of myself as well as the students. I learned to focus on what is happening now and leaving planning for the evening. I remember getting up early to get a prescription for one student who had an intestinal upset. I had stayed up late waiting for the hotel doctor to come to her room. The other adults managed most of that day without me.

Share the responsibility. Accept that there will be glitches and that's OK. Find ways along the way to have fun experiences for yourself. If taking a few hours away from everyone else will help do that.

This will get easier with experience. Seeing the space center is a great experience for all of you. I'd go in a minute even when young and inexperienced. I would've been anxious and I would expect a good time for myself as well as the kids.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Enjoy your vacation. A brisk walk and wine tend to do the trick for me.

F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm with you, i found the extended-family vacations more work and hassle and stress than the us-only ones.
but i'm still glad we did them. it was awesome for the kids, and good for us too. i'm such a lone dragon it will never be my favorite way to take a break, but that doesn't mean it's not a Very Good Thing.
keep your expectations realistic, and look for little opportunities to enjoy yourself, solo or with your dh maybe. and when you're in the thick of family madness, relax and keep your sense of humor and perspective. you're a good egg for going along with it all even if you don't really love it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Most of my family vacations are camping, which means I don't get a lot of time to relax since camping is a lot of work. But I do make a point of relaxing. My kids are old enough to occupy themselves, so I can sit and read on the beach etc without worrying.

We go to a summer camp for a week each year where I don't have to worry about setting up camp or preparing meals and there are plenty of activities to keep my kids occupied and I spend lots of time relaxing there.

When we do tourist type vacation I prefer not to relax. I like to fit in as much sight seeing and adventure in as possible.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I do relax on holidays. I don't have the rush and hustle of every day life and I find that I can sit down and relax, read a book, lay on the beach (not long, it's not very fun for me), and I can take long showers or a bubble bath when I want. So yes, I plan my time so I can have down time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I take into account that time , no life flies by and vacations don't come around all the time.. so if and when I take one.. I WILL enjoy it.. every stinkin :) waking moment... I ask myself.. is this or that worth getting upset over.. why am I stressing... most of the time, things are as they should be.. if you can accept that which you cannot change, then you will more readily accept that which you can >> and that is your mindset.. make it a point and set an intention to have fun............ then do it. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Do you know what exactly is the source of your stress? If you can pinpoint it, maybe you can fix it. For example, my sister's stress comes from packing. She's always worried about forgetting something (and has in the past) so she should use checklists.

The source of my family-trip stress has always been other people. We don't do trips with extended family anymore because it is a disorganized mess. Some want to split up and do different things, while others wanted to stay in a group, and some would refuse to make a decision for fear of picking the wrong thing. 50% of vacation time was wasted with pointless discussions. Our solution is to just not do it. Even if my in-laws paid for everything, we'd decline.

I get stress cold sores too. One of my dermatologist friends suggested Valtrex (generic) and although it is not cheap it is AMAZING. I wish I had known about it years ago.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Sounds fantastic honestly :)

Years ago when the kids were little, I was getting ill and didn't know it. We always got up early and spent a couple of hours doing the sightseeing or activities, and then back for lunch and rest. I napped the kids then too, and we chilled. Had a beer, then went out again in the evening for something short to do or visit friends/family.

That system still works well for us today - because we get to chill out. The kids go off an amuse themselves and we get to recharge.

I could not vacation unless we broke up the day. Just a thought :)

I get where having aunts and uncles would be more fun than grandparents. Could they watch the kids a bit so you and hubby could have some grown up time to yourselves?


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You know what they say: For moms, a vacation with the family is really a business trip.

My husband and I were just talking about this. He always wishes I would relax more when we are on vacation, he doesn't get it. It is different for the mom.

So, no I do not relax on my vacations with my kids. Not that I don't enjoy the vacation. I can ENJOY things without relaxing (another mom thing, right!) But I do not relax, except in small moments when the kids are 100% under someone else's care. For example, we went to a nice hotel for a couple days over spring break. The only times I relaxed were twice when took the baby up to the room for a nap and read my book while my husband stayed at the pool with the older kids. And once he took the all the kids up to the room for 45 minutes and I read a magazine ALONE by the pool with a fizzy fruity beverage. And that 45 minutes was glorious. I seriously can only relax if the kids are asleep or occupied with another responsible adult.

I finally came to the conclusion with him that he needs to stop worrying about whether I am fully relaxed or not. Let me find my own pockets of relaxation and enjoy them when I can. I think it is just totally unrealistic to relax when you are still managing a family of 4 or 5 or however many on a trip.

Do you work? I think I am like you. I would not be looking forward to a sunday-sunday trip with no downtime on the backside. But that is because I would want that day to do laundry, unpack, eat a homecooked meal... Maybe we don't like to relax. I have a really hard time sitting around doing nothing, now that I am a mom. Time is just too precious and there is so much to do! So I try to enjoy it from the kid angle- take pictures of them, sit back and watch them enjoy the free time and new adventures. I find more satisfaction in that sometimes. Who says we HAVE to relax to enjoy a vacation anyway?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Stop stressing!!!!

You are traveling from a place where there is still snow on the ground to somewhere that has been averaging 80 degrees everyday (I know this because I live about an hour and a half from Tampa/St. Pete).

I would recommend hanging around the beach and doing things in that area since NASA is almost a three hour ride away and this is one of the busiest times of the year here.

Enjoy your time with your family and be thankful you can. We have not had a family vacation in years and every year is harder to do so with the kids growing up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I did relax on a family vacation for the first time last fall, but only because our kids are older now at 8 and 12. We could take them on excursions that weren't designed for kids but were fun for all. When they were younger, no way ... family vacation just meant we were busy away from home. If I'm having to keep an eagle eye on the kids in the pool or search for family-friendly dining, it's not relaxing.

In the end, the only truly relaxing vacations are those I take alone with my husband. Those are 100% relaxation.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

The Tradewinds is AWESOME! You will enjoy it. How old are your kids? If they are younger, it may be harder to relax, but if they can swim, you should be able to have some down time. there is tons for kids to do there. the beaches are beautiful, and the sunsets incredible. Maybe the Grands can watch the kids for a night or two while you and hubs go to dinner/walk on beach/have a cocktail?

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answers from Grand Forks on

Wish i had parents/grandparents and a week at the beach! Girrl it'll be great! Have fun for those of us who don't have anything like that!

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answers from Detroit on

NO vacations with kids are not relaxing...

the vacations in the old days with just 2 of us.. that was relaxing but now .. I pack for me and 2 kids.. thinking of all contingencies.. (will it be cold or hot.. sunburn.. better bring medicine for this or that ).. I take dog to kennel and caged pets to friend... I stop mail and paper etc..

then on vacatin you are constantly watching kids and making sure they are entertained or they get onery so no.. vacatioins are not relaxing at all.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't know - I LOVE to vacation and travel, so do my kids. I like to be busy too, I don't need completely relaxing vacations because I feel like we miss out on a lot when we do that. We were in New Orleans in 2009 and we spent most days at the parks with my husbands family. We had a blast, but we didn't get to see the city at all.

The most relaxing vacation EVER was a cruise. We can't wait to do another one. We do a week in OBX every couple of years and while it is very relaxing, it's typically a lot of drama too since my whole side of the family stays in one house - it's about 20 people and too much.



answers from San Francisco on

It depends. What I've found makes vacations with kids easier for me is:

1. staying in a condo or something with a kitchen so we don't have to eat out every meal.
2. all inclusive places where I don't have to plan out every meal.
3. traveling by car so I don't have to worry about packing everything in a carry on.

Generally speaking, the best vacation for me is when my husband takes the kids to see his parents - without me!

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