There are a great many reasons why I love my husband so dearly, but the way that man can pack up a car is one of the many. And let me tell you, these days we have a lot of things to pack. Don’t even get me started on his ability to prepare any room, anywhere in 2 minutes flat for our kids to sleep in. He can hang that blackout fabric and whip together a pack-n-play in record speed. While I consider myself a homebody by nature, I absolutely love a good adventure and getting out to see the world. Which inevitably means loading up the car a couple of times a month with a ridiculous amount of things for our two small offspring. With a 5 month old and a toddler still in diapers, the amount of supplies we haul around with us is somewhat hilarious. What I’m getting at here is that it can be really inconvenient, time consuming, stressful, and overwhelming planning a getaway with a toddler and a baby, and then doing all the traveling to actually get to said destination. I’m sure you’ve seen that saying about how vacationing with kids is basically taking all your stuff to a new place and doing the same things there. Which might be true, but I’d rather be staring at the raging Pacific ocean out my beach house rental nursing my baby than doing it on my couch at home. Now, I’m ALL for taking child-free getaways and think it’s important to have time alone away from our kids, but I also believe taking kids out to experience new people and places is important, even from a very early age. And if I waited until my kids were grown to take them anywhere, I’d probably never make it through my bucket list of places to travel. We’ve taken our son to Hawaii, Cananda, Oregon, North Carolina, and since we live in the best state in the nation, we’ve of course road-tripped up, down, and all around it. Back when we just had one child, driving seemed like a breeze, but now that we have a baby who is passionate about hating her carseat, we’ve taken our stress levels up a notch. But the show must go on, and every summer I plan a few small weekend vacations for us, along with day trips around the Olympic Peninsula.
If you follow me on instagram, you saw this past weekend we headed to the coast, our top carrier loaded with sound machines, a breast pump, food for days, and clothing options for every weather outcome. We rented a fabulous house on the beach in a newer coastal community called Seabrook (which is actually located in the town of Pacific Beach). I grew up just south of this area, and find myself always needing to return to the ocean. I think it’s just part of what I’m made of.
I’d never been to Seabrook however, and we decided it was just the place to meet our friends for a long weekend. We almost always bring grandma with us, and if I could recommend one piece of travel advice for longer trips it would be to bring another set of arms with you to help with hugging, loving, holding, changing, and generally speaking letting the parents pretend they are on a vacation too. Five adults, two toddlers, and one baby spent four glorious days together in a house on the beach.
Every year we have an annual tradition of traveling with our best friends and getting our families together for an extended time. We’ve had some major hits (bungee jumping in Canada and flying kites on the Oregon coast), and a few misses (everyone getting a flu-like plague in Maui with puking babies to boot), but we always come away with our souls filled. This right here is my kids’ childhood, these are the memories they will have forever. The photos of my son and his ‘cousin’ playing with crabs on the beach, digging holes, and grinning from ear to ear with ice cream slathered across their faces will be ones I hope they cherish for a lifetime. Seeing my son so joyful makes it all worth it, and this trip was no different. We walked down hundreds of stairs, hauling buckets and babies and shovels to play in the sand. We strolled the local market and admired all the ‘Nantucket’ inspired houses. We swam, and ate, and stayed up way past a reasonable hour playing games. Honestly, my husband and I are a great team, we are silly and weird and loving. We discipline and respect the routine. We have a lot of great traits going for us as parents. But patience is NOT one of them. So naturally the standard 2 year, 9 month old toddler tantrum and screaming baby in the car does wear on both of us from time to time, but we genuinely enjoy having our kids around and think they are incredible humans. It’s true, right now I’m in a phase of motherhood where my kids are highly deponent on me for everything. I’m a food source for one, and a place of emotional stability for another. So I can hardly call most of our vacations with kids relaxing (cue grandma to the rescue for letting the parents go out past bedtime). In short, sometimes trips with kids can invoke meltdowns and poor sleeping (once we took a boat to Canada and our son screamed for 45 minutes straight). I digress. We remind ourselves that they are only little for so long, and this time is fleeting.
I love that when we go on vacation I get to watch my husband play with his kids and be present for huge chunks at a time, and when it gets stressful we have each other (and coffee). Someday soon they won’t need us quite so much. Someday soon we will go on vacation and my son won’t ask to ‘play, play, play’ with his daddy, and I won’t be able to carry my sweet chunky baby girl in my arms everywhere we go. Getting out in the world to explore, play, and love our people is always worth the effort. And when you live in the glorious Pacific Northwest, there’s no shortage of amazing places to experience.