I call the spring of 2014 my trifecta of change. In a matter of two months, I had a second baby, quit my job of ten years and moved halfway across the country. Enter hormones. Being home full time in a new zip code with a two year old, an eight week old and a traveling husband was a crazy fun adventure that I actually enjoyed. That is, until I encountered my first Midwest winter. I made it until January before it was time for a warm vacation.
Before kids, my husband and I would spend months carefully planning our next vacation. This particular one was planned on a -20 degree Wednesday night with three feet of snow on the ground. And we wanted to leave on Friday. And our baby had no passport. While all of this might seem stressful, the thought of being locked up with two small children for another frigid day was more frightening. As was our dry static hair. So we bit the bullet, booked an all-inclusive in Mexico, expedited our son’s passport the next day and hopped on a plane. And it was the best decision ever.
The all-inclusive resort was not something we have ever done before; we usually like to plan our own outings, have variety and go a little more off-the-grid. But not with a three year old and ten month old in tow. This was truly perfect. We had enough variety with the restaurants on the property but no pressure to make the boys eat exotic foods. There were no meltdowns on tour buses, tired children on boat rides, or the lack of cash to buy ice cream when needed. The pool was full of water, the beach was full of sand, and the drinks were “free”. Or at least already included in the bill. Fantastic.
While traveling with toddlers might seem scarier than a post-partum jog, in the right location it can be an amazing getaway for the whole family. Here are my five tips for keeping it family friendly:
Keep the kiddos on a schedule – Vacations are all about relaxing and indulging, but the no nap-four-o’clock meltdown is hardly worth it. Staying as consistent as you can with naps and mealtimes keeps kids happy (and everyone naps well by a pool right?!)
Pool, beach, repeat – We spent each morning at the beach and every afternoon at the pool, for 8 days. Our kids were in heaven, as were we. We will get to the Mayan ruins one day, I know, but this was not the trip. Save the excursions, boat trips, and hikes for when the kids are older and can appreciate it a little more.
Room Choice is critical – Spending a full week with two toddlers in a 12×12 room is no ones dream by any means. If you can, splurge for a suite with a bedroom and living space. This way, you can put the kiddos to bed and not have to spend 7pm-7am hanging out by the light of your phone. My husband and I have spent way too many a hotel night playing cards in the bathroom. If this is not an option, a room with a nice deck and a view is a great way to spend afternoon nap time or late night cocktail hour after the kids go to sleep.
BYOT (toys) – My husband and I used to each bring a carry on and could travel for two weeks. Those days are long gone. It does not matter if we are traveling for a weekend or two weeks, we have to bring everything but the kitchen sink. Which is why I am totally okay with packing one whole suitcase full of entertainment. For the price of one checked bag, the boys had stories to read at bedtime, sand toys for the beach and something other than the hotel phone to play with in the room.
Don’t stress – My husband would laugh at me giving this advice, because I do stress, all the time. But he would agree that our all-inclusive toddler vacation was the least stressed either of us felt all last year. We wanted a pool, a beach, lots of sun and for the drinks to keep coming. With our expectations set at nothing more than happy, sandy kids, we were truly in paradise.