Vacation with Small Children

Updated on July 09, 2010
K.H. asks from Efland, NC
14 answers

Hi Mommies,
I have 2 children, daughter is 10 months & son is 4 years. My husband recently voiced the frustration about how "getting away" for vacation isn't relaxing with little ones. I tried to explain how we have to change our view of relaxing and having fun now. I don't think I did a very good job though. I think the toughest thing for my husband is that our kids require supervision most/all of the time because they are still so young. I have to admit that there are times that I want some peace and quiet too but that tends to be rare. We are getting ready to go away for a week on family vacation and I was wondering if any of you have any advice on how to enjoy family vacation with little ones.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

it depends on where you are going? Maybe the hotel has a daycare that you can leave them there for a little while and go to the pool or get a message? Maybe a family member can take them for a weekend so you two can get a break.

We go camping which works well for us. My son 23 months loves to be outside. We invited one of his day care friends to come up for the day and it was great because then it was 4 of us working with the two of them.

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Fort Wayne on

Honestly, it's not going to be a vacation for you and your husband. It's a LOT of work to take two little ones on vacation. They are out of their routine, they don't sleep well, you can't "go" all day long like you might want to. We just went camping for a couple of days with my kids (3 & 11 mos) and it just wasn't all that much fun. Part of it was my fault, I forgot the baby's exersaucer and the ground was littered with cigarette butts, so I couldn't really put her down. An 11 month old (or 10 month old) only wants to sit for so long.
My suggestion is to plan some down time in the afternoon. You need time to go back to the hotel room (or wherever you're staying) and just relax. Let the baby roll around on the floor and let the 4 year old have some rest time. Plan a day in the middle of the week where you just relax, either in the room or lounging by the pool. You might also have to split up at some point. One of you take the baby back for a nap and the other one stay with the older child. You'll just have to kind of get a feel for what you need when you get to your destination.
The biggest thing is to be flexible. Don't have any plans cause I guarantee you that they'll get broken.
A vacation like that can be fun, but it's a lot of work too. My husband I decided no more camping till the baby can walk!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We try to stick to routines as much as possible, without stressing over it - our kids always do better with naps. We lower our expectations. We don't check out and see EVERYthing like we would have back in the day, but we make sure to see what's most important. We divide and conquer to get breaks. I'll take both kids while Daddy does something he likes (like fishing) or he'll watch the kiddos while I head out. We also split the kids. He'll take our oldest to do something, while I take the youngest. And our focus has changed. Vacation used to mean time off and time to relax. Now vacations are uninterrupted family time...we enjoy watching our kids have a ball. All this being said...we do take a weekend or two for ourselves throughout the year. We get a break and enjoy some grown up time. It's not a full blown vacation, but a weekend at a hotel can do wonders to recoup. Have a great time!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We find it really helps to psych ourselves up for a week of "kid things." We (well, I) figure out a whole bunch of playgrounds in the area, places to go swimming, indoor stuff like local libraries, ice cream, etc so that we have vague plans for each day (including if the weather isn't great). I've found that vacation is a nightmare when we don't have lots of things to do because there isn't all the regular home stuff to keep themselves entertained. But If we then get ourselves to a place where making the kids happy is fun, then the vacation is fun. The way I try to spin it is that at home, we have lots of other things to juggle, on vacation we can just "be kids" with the kids.

It's not relaxing. But it is fun. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

I had a very nice trip to Mackinaw Island last year with my two boys (6 and 2 at the time). Just don't plan too much! That way, if the kids get cranky, no one is upset if they need a nap. If they are having a good day, you can add in an extra activity. Our hotel room walked right onto the beaches of Lake Huron, so the one day my 2 yo had to have a nap, My 6 year old and I went out to swim while my 2 yo and husband slept. My husband loved it too! He has a physically exhausting job, so to get a nap without me nagging him to get this painted or that fixed, he was in Heaven! An to wake up to the sound of the waves on the shore... sets a perfect tone for the rest of the day. :)

You will have fun. Just think more about relaxation than "doing stuff."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

The only was to have a relaxing vacation with young children is to leave them home with grandma. Little ones require a lot of time and attention and there's no way around that. You have no way in advance of knowing it they are going to have a fun time or be overly tired and whine after a short period. It's just the nature of children.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Knoxville on

We took a vacation and took my cousins daughter along with us. She was 12 or 13 at the time. She helped with the kids plus it was fun for her as well. If this is not an option for you try to do things that they will enjoy. IF you are going to visit family or friends, would they be willing to keep the kids for a while so you and your hubby could go do something you enjoy? Safe travels!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

This may or may not be an option, but I agree-it's really hard to truly relax when you're constantly running after the kids. I view the vacations during the early years as great opportunities to expose your kids to something new and get some great photos! This year we are DELIGHTED because we're taking our nanny with us. Of course we still want to spend most of our time with our kids, but for one (or two) half days, I want to park my butt on the beach with a book and no one else! My husband and I also desperately need some time to ourselves, so this will allow us to go out in the evenings on our own. Many families do this -if they don't use a nanny regularly, they hire a college girl to come along and watch the kids sometime. They can usually be found fairly cheaply because if you're headed to the beach, then they still get tons of time off and a free beach vacation!

Another thing you see a lot are grandparents or grandmas on vacation with their kids and grandkids. This isn't only to give grandma a vacation! Before my mom died, we would go on vacation with them and they would watch the kids a night or two and for a morning or something.

If it's too late this year, think of some of those options for next year. We probably won't have a regular nanny next year, but I'm still going to go on Sittercity or and get a college kid home for summer who wants to make several hundred bucks and get a tan!

You and your husband can also trade off if no one will go with you. Give him a half day one day and yourself a half day the next. If you're going to a resort, MANY have certified, licensed babysitters you can hire for an evening.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lexington on

We recently went to Disney with our 9 yr old son only and while Disney is never relaxing, it was an incredible vacation bc we didn't have any younger ones. However, prior to that we've taken a set of grandparents to the beach house with us and while it's still alot of work for Mom (me) in terms of cooking, cleaning, and laundry, with Grandma at least Dad can ultimately relax and I'm relieved of the responsibility of the kids - which is a type of vacation in itself. But that's the ONLY way to take a relaxing vacay unless you leave the kids at home....even when they're older! Tell ur DH I'm sorry, but he's just gonna have to get over it. He's a dad now and that changes your life FOREVER. He'll ALWAYS be responsible for how his children were raised, cared for, and will always worry about them.....even when they've got kids of their own. If he didn't want that responsibility he shouldn't have had sex..... LOL I do empathize with you tho! Alot of men refuse to accept what responsibility is rightfully theirs and Moms get all the work bc SOMEBODY has to be responsible. I've been there too.

Good luck! And maybe next vacation take another family or grandparents to a *BIG* beach house with you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Knoxville on

Hi Katie!
I just had to laugh when you said relaxing and vacation with little ones in the same sentence!!!!!!!! Vacationing with little ones is NOT relaxing - it can be fun, it can be great family time, it can be great to get away, but relaxing it is not. So those expectations need to change before you go unless you can afford to take a nanny with you. Maybe other people have different experiences with their kids, but it has not been mine! A month ago, my husband and I went on vacation for the first time with our two kids (10 month old daughter and 3 1/2 year old son). Boy did we learn a lot!! Here are some tips that I would give to make things easier:
-stay in one place so the kids can feel like the place you are at is their home away from home while you are gone. If you go to multiple places, it is harder to get settled.
-don't skip naps
-don't expect the kids to sleep/nap in the car
-eat some meals at the place where you are staying instead of eating out so the kids don't always have to be on their best behavior
-we let our 3 1/2 year old eat a lot of McDs just to make life easier for us since it was vacation
-make sure your activities on the vacation are more geared towards your kids having fun (mainly your son since your daughter is so young)
-don't pack too much into one day

Hope that helps! And I hope you all have a great time!!! If it is anything like our vacation, you will come home feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation!!!! (: But enjoy it nonetheless because kids just grow up so quick. Maybe you could drop your kids off at the grandparents and you and your hubby could take a vacation by yourselves another time. Now that would be relaxing!!

Best of luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I agree with all the Mom's who say stick to their normal nap schedule as much as possible. Not clear if you already have a vacation in mind or not but here is what has worked well for us. We visited a working farm. During the day we got to go to the barn and collect eggs, feed the goats, etc. At night since it was a little cottage once the kids went to sleep we had our baby monitor so were able to hot tub just outside, sit under the stars on the swing and share a bottle of wine. If our toddler hadnt spiked a fever it would have been lovely. (always pack meds just in case- especially with the recent tylenol/motrin recalls).
Our second attempt was a beach condo- a relative bargain due to low occupancy this year. We had a deck that faced the ocean and again- planned kid-friendly activities during the day and got some time to relax and be a married couple under the stars and fresh air at night.
Hope this helps!!!



answers from Raleigh on

Many great answers so far. I agree that keeping the children in their routine as much as possible is the answer. You don't say where you're going. If you have rented a beach house or a cabin where you're in charge of what you do and when you eat, it should be easier to stay on routine. If you're spending lots of time in the car or in a hotel where noise is harder to control, it's going to be tougher. Plan ahead for restaurant waits or do take out. Also, I highly recommend a real, restful vacation for just you and your husband sometime in the near future. Your relationship needs to be nurtured so you have the energy to be good parents.



answers from Charleston on

My tip for getting some relaxing time while on vacation is take a grandparent with you :) Thats what we are doing next week. We are taking my mom with us to the beach. She can help with the kids and even babysit in the evenings while my and my hhusband go out. She knows this ahead of time and is perfectly find with it as long as she gets some beach time too.



answers from Fayetteville on

We have three boys currently 9,7, and 4. We reduced the stress of family vacations and outings by taking cues from the kids. We plan activities that will keep them engaged - yes this means that although we may want to spend a day browsing through Antique shops, we don't b/c that would not keep the kids engaged. We also plan activities for the times of day when they are at their best. In our case our kids are all natural morning birds, so we tend to get up and go early so they are fresh. Your kids "best" time of day may be in the afternoon after a know when they are at their best.
Also, when we are at activities (say the zoo) we follow their lead - if they want to hang in the petting zoo instead of see the elephants, that is okay, because the next time they will want to see the elephants. It will all work out in the end.
When we want to get away and relax - we get a sitter for the kids and do a weekend get away - or just an overnite get away.

Have a great trip!

Next question: Do You Actually Relax & Enjoy Your Family Vacations?