10 reasons why family vacations for mums aren’t really vacations at all

I don’t know why but it happens every time. Whenever we plan a family vacation, I get a tingling of excitement and imagine myself lounging over sun-kissed beaches with a glass Sangria. Then, earth calls. Hello, you’re a mom!Now, vacations are supposed to be a time to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate or a switch off from the routine. But since mums do not have off days, they technically are never on a holiday. Here’s why family vacations for mums don’t really fit the definition.1.The packing stage itself is a dampenerRemember how in your pre-kid days you could throw in some things in a bag just hours before your flight and just go? Well, we can forget about that after kids are in the picture. The amount of time spent on lists and strategically packing the diaper bag itself will drain you. And if you’re like me, packing for two children is like packing the house. So kids’ clothes, diapers and toys will bulldoze their way into your bags too and your two pairs of jeans and t-shirts will be crying in a corner. By the time you drag the monster pieces of luggage to the vehicle, you may need a glucose shot.2. You’re not absolved from babysitting dutiesYou will still have diaper, feeding and cleaning duties with the baby or toddler in tow. Unless you pack your nanny along, you’re pretty much doing what you did at home. Even if your spouse wants to help, for some reason, the kids will suddenly make you the preferred parent and want only you to tend to them for the smallest things.3. There’s child-related vacation stressA mum’s mind on vacation will be full of a new stress, the holiday stress. “Don’t go too deep into the pool!” “You’re dirty, come let me change you for the fifth time.” “Please eat this.” “Don’t run, come back!” “Watch out, that lamp may fall!” By the time you’re done with the kids and finally slip into that new swimsuit for a dip in the pool, they’re probably closed for the day. Yup, relaxation it seems.4. Sleep doesn’t happenDuring our honeymoon holidays, my husband and I woke up at 10am, wolfed down some breakfast then went back to sleep only to get up for lunch. But now with the kids, sleep on vacations is non-existent. My son, who has to be dragged out of bed on school days, is up at 6am on holidays, demanding food and entertainment. And not to forget my toddler who specially wakes up more often at night on vacations. Bye bye, sweet slumber.5. Food is a nightmareIf your children are adventurous eaters on holidays, then lucky you. But if you have fussy eaters on board, then God bless you. The entire lunch time will be spent trying to convince the stubborn munchkins to eat something from the buffet only to have them end up eating bread and ketchup. And then by the Murphy’s Laws of kids, whenever you sit down to eat; they will get the urgent urge to wee or poo. So, your wish to eat a delicious meal at leisure could remain a wish.  


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6. Sex, what’s that?Getting cozy between the sheets when you’re all recharged is the high point for vacationing couples but after you’re done running after the kids, all you want to do is crash into bed. Even if you attempt get naughty, there’s a chance that the unfamiliar layout of the hotel room could have you knock something over and wake the kids. Nope, not worth taking a chance.7. Exploring at leisure is impossibleYou might want to sightsee, shop or explore the town at your own pace but with children around, everything revolves around them. They may feel sick, sleepy, hungry, scared or all of the above. So you might as well toss your planned itinerary out of the window.  8. Schedules get thrown out gearTravelling tends to throw your child’s sleeping, eating or toilet schedules off gear. Now if you’ve spent months getting them on track, this can be exasperating. And when this happens, it leaves the mum no room to plan a spa session or some me time on the beach.9. You don’t have your usual backupsMy son usually goes off cycling whenever he has the chance and it keeps him occupied for a decent amount of time. Now since we can’t take it on vacation, he has a lot of ‘bored’ periods at times, especially when the weather outside is unfriendly and we’re cooped up in the hotel room. And it is at these times that I run out of creative options to keep him entertained.  10. Commute is also tiresomeJourneys with kids who are difficult travellers can give you sleepless nights. You are busy negotiating, bribing, pacifying, feeding or changing them so that you’re not thrown out by your fellow commuters. There can also be plenty of “are we there yets?” before you reach the destination. Sigh. This list can go on but most mums would agree that what matters on family vacations is that we’re making memories, albeit tired ones. Children won’t be little forever, and what I’ve realized is, if a mum really does need a relaxed vacation, she must take the plunge sometime and set off without the kids if possible. Only then can she say she’s had a holiday.