How I've Been (Unintentionally) Ruining My Family's Vacations

How I've Been (Unintentionally) Ruining My Family's Vacations

This mom is determined to de-stress her brood’s next getaway … starting with her attitude.

By Kelly Bryant

I was born a planner. I love it. Live for it, even. Parties, playdates, family activities … and don’t even get me started on my wedding. It has all been my jam. And while I have an equal amount of love for planning vacations, the pressure I put on myself to ensure everyone is having fun every second of our time away, not to mention scoring the best deals on hotels, transportation, and activities, drives me absolutely insane.

I’m not sure why I can’t breathe easier about this. My sons, who are just 5 and 3, can literally have fun playing with a cardboard box (though they may fight over it unless we happen to have two), so chances are, no matter what we do or where we go, they’re going to have a good time. Yet I find myself repeatedly asking them, “Are you having fun? Was that the most fun ever?”

It’s annoying. It’s annoying to me, and it’s annoying to them. It’s also completely unfair for me to take the pressure I’m feeling and put it on their tiny shoulders.

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There’s also way too much about life in general that is beyond my control. Is it my fault if the weather in San Diego turned too chilly to really enjoy the hotel pool? Or that on the day of our visit to a particular theme park it felt like everything “fun” was shut down for repair? Life happens, and if I can’t stand the heat, well then I need to get out of the vacation planning business.

As parents, moms in particular, we put so much stress on perfection and doing everything right that we often don’t get to enjoy the moments that we’ve worked so tirelessly to create.


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And social media doesn’t help, either. I hate to admit it, but when I see the happy, smiling images of other families having what appears to be “the best time ever” on vacation, it makes me even more anxious to give my kids the same experience. Never mind the fact that five minutes before or five minutes after those picture-perfect images were taken, someone could have been having a meltdown, complaining about her lunch, or whining that he couldn’t ride the merry-go-round for a 10th time.

Nothing in life is absolutely perfect and that’s what makes those moments that come close feel oh so sweet. I’m slowly learning that if I can just step back for a moment and appreciate our family time together, it will make for a happier whole – more blissful experiences, smiling kids, and relaxed parents. It’s certainly not a lesson I can finish completely overnight, but I’m getting there – one planning session at a time.

How do you de-stress during family vacations?

Kelly Bryant is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons. Follow her on Twitter @MsKellyBryant.

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