Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Vacationing as a family: not quite but it works

Family vacation tends to conjure up lots of togetherness and/or utter mayhem a la Chevy Chase. Our typical trip style: divide and conquer. It's hard to find activities Max and Sabrina both enjoy, and so Dave and I often go our separate ways with them for a good part of the day.

We were at the Jersey Shore for Memorial Day weekend, in Wildwood, NJ. Max did not want to go to the pool. Sabrina and Ben love it. Max did not want to go to the beach. Sabrina and Ben did. OK, Ben didn't actually say that but we knew he'd enjoy the sand. Not only did he like tossing it around, he found it tasty, too. Max only wanted to go on the rides at the pier. Sabrina maybe wanted to go on the rides but was having trouble resisting the siren call of Facetime. Ben needed a nap. Dave was fine doing anyhting. Nobody ever wants to go to a museum of any sort except me.

And so, for a good part of one day, Max and Dave went off to the pier. They drove on a race track, twice. They did a Monster Truck ride that Dave thought was a bit scary but Max was enthralled. Meanwhile, Sabrina and I hung with Ben in the pool and at the playground.

The next day, we switched. Dave, Sabrina and Ben went to the beach with cousins. Max and I headed out to do some errands then hit the race track and more rides—bumper cars for the win. Oh, and of course, ice-cream.

For lunch, Max had a milkshake, with chocolate/vanilla ice-cream for dessert. 

At this point in our lives, a vacation filled with family togetherness just isn't in the cards for us. That still bothers me, although I've mostly come to accept that's the way it is. Dave and I each got to enjoy time alone with the kids, so that was good. Also: I like rides, and even better, I like watching Max enjoy them.

We "enjoyed" breakfast and dinner together, in between Sabrina hissing at Max to stop talking loudly, Ben throwing rice/Cheerios/whatever food everywhere, and Max questioning whether everything has milk in it because he knows Ben is allergic. It's sweet, but when he asked if oranges had milk we were all, "Max, trust us!" We took a family stroll around the center of Cape May, ate yet more ice-cream and downed an obnoxious amount of samples at the Cape May Peanut Butter Co.

Other times, we chilled in the condo. Well, I wouldn't quite call it "chilling" but it was different than our usual routine: a different setting, with no therapy appointments for Max or scheduled sports activities for Sabrina. I never liked routines much before we had kids, and going with the flow on vacation is one of the pleasures for me.

Ben got grouchy on the way home. I discovered that if I leaned over and let him pet my hair (it's curly), it calms him right down. Also, he thinks it's hysterically funny if you put your fingers in your ears and try to speak, and we had fun saying words that way.

Then he fell asleep, Sabrina did homework and Max stared contentedly out the window as Dave drove. I sat in the backseat and just thought, and it was totally relaxing.


  1. It sounds like you had togetherness in your own way. Maybe it wasn't all 5 of you together, but spending that one on one time with a parent doing fun things can be just as valuable. Also Ben is adorable!

  2. Did you take Max by the Cape May firehouse? They usually have the trucks out during the day.... I was busy the day you came down

  3. Just wanted you to know you are SO not alone. Most of our family vacations end up looking like this. With an almost-teenage girl, a 9-year-old boy with mild autism, and a three-year-old girl, everyone has different interests and strong opinions. Sometimes it bugs me but I've learned to just go with what works for us, even if it's unconventional. Sounds as if you are doing the same.

  4. Covering one ear while speaking allows you to hear yourself more. (This is why vocalists, especially ensemble vocalists, do it.)

  5. How timely. We just got back from a vacation. I had to take the two weeks off between the end of school and the start of my son's summer camp program. We spent part of it driving to Florida (2 day trip) to visit my brother and sister-in-law. My brother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last fall and I knew I needed to take advantage of the time for a good visit. While there my girls (16 and 18) stayed at my brothers while Luke (14, autism, non-verbal) stayed at a nearby hotel. Best decision ever - Luke (and perhaps my brother) had time away. Now to get ready for the oldest's high school graduation!


Thanks for sharing!

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