Whew. Yal, we went on a trip to VA beach. Like every year. But this year we were a party of 5, with kids ages 12, 4 and 4 months.
And we still had a blast! How? Well, here are my tips for planning a family vacay:
1. Set expectations low. We only do beach vacations because the ocean is fun for all ages. We don’t plan on tons of excursions or get them overtired.
2. Be ok with splitting up if you need to. There were a few times Brian took the older 2 kids (or even just the oldest) while I stayed in to feed/change Viv or let her nap (or her and LB). This works for us because I love to nap and relax and he hates to be still.
3. Get help. The first 4 days of our trip my mom, aunt and sister were with us. This was helpful to keep LB entertained especially when he was waking up at 6 am 😂. Having them there let us carve out some time for just the two of us a couple of nights too. They also helped with cooking – which leads me to #4
4. Air bnb. We always book a condo/house/townhouse within walking distance of the beach. Having a separate sleeping space for the little ones was so necessary. LB goes to bed at 7:30/8 at home. We let him stay up til 9:30ish on vacation but that’s still early to call lights out for everyone. It’s also helpful to give Viv somewhere to nap. And cost wise, it’s cheaper than a nice hotel suite in most cases. Especially because having a washer let’s me bring and use Viv’s cloth diapers (I now travel with cloth wipes too).
5. Try to stay on routine with the baby. We tried to make sure Viv could still nap and of course I made sure to feed her on demand. This kept the crankiness down.
6. Bring what you need. Critical for us are vivs cloth diapers, pack n play, and LBs stuffed toys to sleep with. We try to keep a lot of things as close to being at home as possible so nobody is scared or has trouble sleeping. We also had chairs and an umbrella for the beach so Viv could be comfortable and in the shade.
7. Be car ready. I’m ok with screen time so we pack LBs iPad to watch movies on the ride and give Alaila headphones to listen to her music. We also leave when Viv is usually sleep (early AM or before her long nap) so we are free to talk and listen to music
8. Speaking of the car, plan to stop. Often. Our drive to the beach is over 8 hours. We stop for 3-4 long breaks during that time. We never push too hard or put ourselves on a stressful schedule. Viv is exclusively breastfed and doesn’t take a bottle so we stop for each feeding for her as well.
9. Be flexible. If the kids are getting cranky or hangry we adjust what we are doing to get them back into a good place. We cooked some meals but if we were out and the kids got hungry we weren’t shy to try a restaurant or grab a snack somewhere.
10. Enjoy your time! This is a great time for lots of pics and family memories 😊. don’t get so caught up in coordinating the trip that you don’t enjoy it.