Before I had kids, I traveled a lot. I vacationed in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Greece, stayed in hostels and apartments across Western Europe, and saw as much of Canada and the U.S. as I possibly could. I’d jump at the chance to fly across the country for work, and was constantly adding new destinations to my bucket list. The experiences I had were incredible - exploring the Vatican on a Sunday afternoon, visiting underground crypts in Berlin, wandering cobblestone streets in Prague, and watching the sun set over the ocean in Santorini. Nights were for drinks on patios or in cafes, and mornings were for sleeping in.
Those days are gone.
I just spent a weekend in Niagara Falls with my family, and while it was an awesome time, it was NOT a vacation. It was a trip, and motherhood has taught me that a trip is not a vacation. Was it fun? Yes, it was lots of fun. We went to a waterpark, hung out in the arcade, took the kids to tacky restaurants near the casino and let them stay up late. The kids thought our dated hotel room was a palace, and deemed the sketchy-looking morning buffet “the best breakfast ever”. It was a perfectly successful winter getaway. There were no public tantrums, no lost teddy bears, and everyone slept relatively well. By the end of the weekend, the kids was totally overstimulated and we were exhausted, but everyone was happy. Was it worth it? Yes. Will we do it again? Absolutely. Was it relaxing? NOPE.
A vacation leaves you feeling rested and invigorated, and this was not that. Among the top reasons: a weekend stay at a waterpark is loud, expensive, and intermittently stressful. Hundreds of children are running around in all directions and your only job is to keep track of YOUR kids, who are running into the wave pool without life jackets despite the fact that they cannot swim. A terrible hot dog lunch costs $30, and you can’t hear anything over the constant roar of crashing water, screaming children, crying babies, shouting parents, lifeguard whistles, and Katy Perry songs. It’s paradise, if you hate yourself.
I am grateful that we can take trips like this, and that my kids had so much fun. I hope the memories of these weekends will last a lifetime. But in honour of all parents who have traded white sand beaches for theme parks, here is a list of things that are more vacation-like than a weekend away with young kids.
Going to the Grocery Store Alone
Moms, you hear me on this and I know it. I recently tweeted about the joys of grocery shopping and I meant every word – an hour spent wandering the aisles BY YOURSELF is some serious “me time” that you don’t even have to feel guilty about, because it’s also an errand.
Visiting a Medical Professional
Oh, I have a dentist appointment? Sweet. My optometrist needs to see me sometime this month? Looking forward to it! Time for a physical? Whatever, I’ll take what I can get. These visits are no longer a chore - I’ll be just fine out here in the silence of the waiting room, watching the news station with no volume on.
This is a vacation of the saddest variety, but a vacation nonetheless. Just let me pee alone, please. It only takes a minute and it’s so much more dignified than peeing while breaking up a fight about Lego. Peeing alone feels like a reward, and I want it to be mine.
Showering Without Interruption
THE HOLY GRAIL OF MOTHERHOOD. Who doesn’t feel amazing after this parenting win? Bonus points if it’s a hot shower and/or more than 7 minutes in duration.
Driving in Your Car By Yourself
Within minutes of dropping my kids off at school, you will find me listening to the radio at a stupid-high volume because I no longer have to worry about deafening my sweet children. My husband isn’t there commenting on how low I’ve let the gas tank get or that I haven’t refilled the windshield washer fluid, and no one is whining or kicking my seat. It’s bliss.
Getting an Oil Change
Wait, so I just get to sit here and drink this coffee and read this magazine and quietly think my thoughts for like, TWENTY MINUTES? That’s amazing. Count me in.
Honourable mentions: Doing your taxes, getting the interior and exterior of your car cleaned at the auto spa, getting drive-thru lunch and eating it alone in your car, watching late night TV on the couch, an exercise class that you have a love/hate relationship with, sleeping 8 hours or more in a single night.