How I (want to) spend my summer vacation

By: Alison Dunn Jul 06, 2010

I hate sleeping in the same room as my kids.

No, this isn't a judgment on co-sleeping or the family bed or anything like that. It's just that my kids are really annoying sleepers. My seven-year-old tosses and turns all night, my four-year-old incessantly mumbles in his sleep and both are up every day at the crack of dawn. (We have trained them not to wake us up until at least 7 a.m. – and later on the weekends.)

When we went on a family vacation last winter, my husband and I came home more tired than when we left. Sleeping in a hotel room with both boys was just not our idea of a relaxing time. The kids had fun, but we left swearing we'd never do it again.

But as summer vacation approaches, here we are considering the same thing all over again. We are planning a five-day camping trip with friends this summer, and that means we'll be sleeping with our kids yet again. Can we survive the trip?

Recently I had a chance to speak to parenting expert Jennifer Kolari about this very topic for our "Surviving summer vacation" article on Primacy Life. It turns out I'm not alone in worrying about my summer vacation with the kids turning into a bit of a disaster.

According to Kolari, the problem isn't really my kids at all – it's me. (And my husband!) Both he and I have expectations that are too high. We dream of a relaxing vacation where our kids are perfect angels who sleep in (and sleep soundly) after a fun day in the great outdoors.

But our kids don't sleep in at home, so what on earth makes us think they are going to sleep in on vacation? Our kids don't always sleep soundly, either, and they're certainly active at home! Do we somehow expect that simply because it's a "vacation," their behaviours are going to change as if by magic?

No, summer vacations might be a magical time, but they're not actually magic. The two kids we take with us on holiday are the same two who live under our roof and like to wake up at 6 a.m. We might be leaving home behind, but we're taking the kids with us.

What to do? This year, I'm going to take Kolari's advice and leave my expectations at home. I will understand that the kids are going to keep me awake and I won't be getting that much sleep. I'm going to remember that they are still little boys and they're still going to fight and argue. I'm going to remember that even though we're on vacation, I can still discipline them as if we were at home. The rules will still apply, even if "home" is a tent in the middle of the forest.

And most importantly, I'm going to take another piece of Kolari's advice – to remember that this is a FAMILY vacation. I'm going to make sure we have lots of time to cuddle and play and spend time together in a way we don't often have time to do at home. I'm going to stop worrying about having the perfect vacation and focus on just having fun.

And if that means having fun at 6 a.m., well, so be it.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.