Saturday, January 06, 2007

Life is getting easier

We just got back from a three night, four day vacation to the Wisconsin Dells. This is an annual trip we have been making with the family for about 5 years now. Each year it seems as if I am pregnant or have a small baby in tow. Each year, we have a good time but by the end of the weekend Doug and I are exhausted and are at the end of our patience rope. It is truly an experience to travel with small children, depending on the age of the smallest child we either have to stop half way so I can nurse, navigate our way through McDonald's holding a baby, a toddler and a tray, which is not easy, try to get some rest as the baby wakes every three hours or the toddler cries off and on all night because he is not in his own bed, push a stroller through crowded hallways loaded with who knows how much garbage you have to carry when taking care of an infant and then always be aware of where the elevator is because the stairs are off limits.

It is a challenge to travel with small children but when you have four kids there is no choice; we either needed to go on vacation with them or stay at home for 10 years while they all grew up. I am not a mother who believes in staying shut up in the house because I have kids. I think it is a good idea for kids to learn how to behave properly in public, grown up situations. I think kids should learn how to eat in a restaurant that doesn't have slides and tubs for entertainment. I think it's important to teach them, even at a young age, to place their order with a waitress, to ask for refills or extra napkins if they need them. It's a good lesson in speaking to adults, saying please and thank you and how to make up their own mind and take responsibility for their choices. We always start at Denny's or Buffalo Wild Wings or other loud restaurants where we won't draw too much attention to ourselves if one of them decides to scream or throw a tantrum...which has totally happened. What I've learned as I've added to my clan is that the youngest look at the oldest to see how to behave. It always amazes me how my little ones take their cues from the older children. That's not easy and often Doug and I have thought, "we should just go by ourselves."

Anyway, all that "training" at home has grown into a more enjoyable vacation; that, along with the fact that the kids are getting older. The two older ones played with each other as Doug and I took care of the little ones or they all played together while Doug and I watched. That is a thrill I hope every mother gets to see...all her kids playing together without killing each other. The kids were able to stay up later in the evening and sleep later in the morning...that was the best! We have had vacations when everyone is up at 6:30 am... that is the pits! (By the time 10:30 rolls around they are ready for a nap.) We had no stroller this time, which meant that Doug and I could walk together while the clan ran up ahead.

Christian and Emily were a huge help. They packed their own suitcases, put away their clothes when we got there and then packed up again when it was time to go home. Granted Christian only packed one pair of socks and underwear but hey that was his choice. They helped us in so many ways, getting themselves dressed, keeping track of their bathing suites, entertaining the kids, helping making lunch, finding luggage carts and even stayed in the room for an hour after the little ones went to bed so that we could go get a drink. (That kind of back fired on us we were walking back to the room about 10 doors away, the fire alarm in the hallway next to ours went freaked us out...Doug ran all the way to our room...the kids seemed to be just fine.) The older the kids get the more enjoyable they are to go out with; Christian is so witty and Emily is a great shopping partner!

I really feel like we have rounded a corner in our family life. We are no longer in baby mode and we are moving into I'm not sure what you'd call it...but I'd call it easier as far as vacations go. It really kind of surprised Doug and I. As we were driving home, we both commented that we had a good time and we are not totally exhausted. Amazing...for those of you who have younger kids than does get easier and it will sneak up on you too.
PS. Don't worry...that's not a real bear in the picture...or at least it's not still alive.


Carol said...

Yes, it certainly does get easier! I'm glad you had a great time and even got to relax a little bit.

Jen said...

Now I'm even more depressed. I'll never get to go anywhere. Especially if there are 2 buns.

Glad to hear you guys had fun and I totally agree about the restaurant thing. We send Caroline with cash to pay the bill and my oldest niece who is 13 can not even go to the counter at McD's and ask for a refill!

Amanda said...

Um, Jen...TWO?!?!?!? :O
Christine, you give me hope...thank you!!!! :) :) :)

Jen said...

Did not mean to start a brou ha ha. I am measuring big and there is MINOR speculation. That is all.

one hot momma said...

I was wondering which child is older, the one on the far right, or the one third from the left? Just wondering...

When did he get sooooooo grown up???