Dan and I get cabin fever quite often. We like to be busy and on-the-go. Sometimes that means running errands all day, sometimes that means getting out of town. While it can sometimes be less stressful to just let the kids run crazy (and usually half naked) around the house and pulling out toys from every cupboard and drawer while you snuggle down and watch tv on the weekends, it can be equally less stressful to not deal with that house mess and instead leave your clean house behind for a weekend away.
We are insanely lucky to have access to a couple cabins that are a short drive from us — 3 hours, tops. In the winter we go to play in the snow, snowboard, ice skate and play with our winter friends and in the summer we go to swim in the lake, go to farmer’s markets, pick huckleberries and play with our summer friends.
Make no mistake…it’s not easy to pack for 6 kids, 2 of whom are still in diapers. In addition to clothes and jammies for each day, there are always the ‘extras’ that come with seasonal activities. Snow boots, jackets, gloves….swimsuits, lifejackets, sand toys. All things that take up every available square inch of space in the suburban. But that’s okay, because it’s worth it.
I get asked all the time: “How do you do it?” I think having more than 3 or 4 kids is a mysterious thing to lots of people. They can’t imagine doing it, so it’s hard to imagine how others do it. There’s no secret, though, and odds are very good that most people would manage just fine with 6 kids, just like we do. We have just learned some tricks to make life easier, especially on vacation.
1. Rules don’t really apply on vacation.
At the cabin(s), the kids snack all day long. They snack on things like chips and cheetos and juice. Sometimes, that’s what they eat for lunch. They watch movies all day and play on our phones. Because a vacation is a vacation and sometimes that means rules don’t apply.
What does this mean for mom and dad? It means less whiney kids. It means peace and quiet and a vacation that we can enjoy, too. Battles are meant to be fought on the weekdays. Let’s keep weekends peaceful, shall we?
2. Hang out with pals.
During our ‘normal’ days and weeks, we don’t get together with friends often. We don’t get families together and hang out. We have lots of family time with Dan, me and the kids alone. Like…lots. So when we get out of town for the weekend, we like to spend time with our friends. We are really lucky that we have friends at each of our weekend getaway locales. Down in the snow, our group of friends is so much fun and treat us just like family. The kids LOVE them and we have so much fun with them and their adorable kids, too. And, again, it makes mom and dad happy to have other adults to hang out with. Happy parents = happy children. That’s a mathematical fact.
3. Let things go.
Things can get awfully overwhelming at times if you let them. So…don’t let them. If you don’t get to the ski hill on time, who cares? If your kids would rather hang out in the car and watch dvds than play in the snow at the bottom of the bunny hill, even though it took you 40 minutes to get them all in their snow gear and 20 minutes to put on each pair of gloves that the little ones kept taking off…then just let them. Give them their cheetos and juice boxes, put in Sophia the First, whip out your US Weekly and People magazines and read them in front of the propane-fueled heater, snap selfies with your phone, and let things go. Our car is usually a disaster when we are out of town: wrappers everywhere, remnants of take-out lunch, books and toys and ALWAYS random shoes. Let it go. Let it be messy for a few days.
4. Snap LOTS of pictures on your phone. Sometimes, the memories of fun getaways and looking back on pictures will remind you how important it is to make the time for it. It always makes me excited to go back and anxious to do more things and take more adventures.
(our friend’s 2 year old daughter, Alice…honestly, how adorable is that?!)
On the practical side:
pack the day before you leave
pack extra clothes for babies and toddlers and more diapers than you think you might need
pack a backpack full of toys and crayons and coloring books and don’t give it to the kids until you are at your destination
stop at the store on the way into town and get fruit snacks and cereal and juice and crackers and whatever else your kids like to snack on and that might seem like a treat
and, for the love of god, don’t run out of Eggo waffles and oreos