Family vacations: a balancing act

Jim, Christopher, and I spent Memorial Day weekend camping in Chincoteague, VA with my sister and her family. They drove down from suburban Philadelphia. We flew into Baltimore, rented a car, and drove down. As I mentioned yesterday, Emily planned all of the meals, and they brought the food since we couldn’t fly with a cooler. They also brought us a tent, but we packed sleeping bags, mats, and pillows along with the usual vacation essentials.

We didn’t really plan anything specific to do while we were there, but we figured we’d hike and spend time at the beach. The weather was perfect, and we were able to enjoy the outdoors. However, families vacations are always a little tricky. It’s a balance between activities that are fun for the kids and activities that are fun for adults. The ultimate is finding activities that are fun for everyone.

Hiking was an activity enjoyed by all, except when there were mosquitoes, but we did have some varying ideas on how hikes should go. The adults wanted to go slowly and quietly, so we might see animals. The kids wanted to run and scream. Who cares about seeing wildlife?

 Andy and Christopher running ahead on our Saturday afternoon hike.

Added bonus of hiking: I met my step goal Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The beach was something else we all enjoyed. The kids had a blast jumping the waves and playing in the sand.

 Andy, Christopher, and Cece jumping the waves on Monday morning. Photo by Emily.

Jim and Jeff got into the fun by building Christopher into a car and Andy into a rocket ship. Jim and I got some adult time taking a nice walk alone on Monday morning while Emily and Jeff watched Christopher.
Christopher as a race car (built by Jim) on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning we happened upon an activity that turned out to be fun for everyone. The Assateague Lighthouse was open to the public. When Jim and I saw the sign, we really wanted to go. Emily and Jeff agreed, but I didn’t think the kids would be into it. I was wrong. We hiked the 1/2 mile to the lighthouse, and Christopher was jumping up and down with excitement about climbing to the top. Andy and Christopher waited fairly patiently for a full hour for it to be our turn. (Cece had to go to the bathroom, so she and Jeff went back to the nature center. A trip that took about 45 minutes.)

Assateague Lighthouse, rebuilt in 1867.

We guessed at the number of stairs (175) and whether the kids would make it to the top by themselves (they all did). Emily and I nearly had heart attacks because the kids, especially Christopher, raced up the stairs. We had to constantly remind them to hold the railing and wait for other people coming down.

Emily, Andy, Cece, and Christopher going up the stairs. 

Family photo on top of the lighthouse. Photo by Emily.

Sunday afternoon we went for ice cream, another crowd pleaser, and then we took the kids to the parking lot of the Chincoteague Municipal Complex to ride their scooters and blow bubbles. This was a true kid activity although I did enjoy seeing Christopher improve his scooter riding throughout the weekend. And Jim played the role of Master Splinter in some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pretend play.

Andy, Cece, and Christopher on their scooters. Emily and Jeff’s red Prius driving away. 

Emily and Jeff left for a little while to search the souvenir shops for a pint glass (they never found one) and to buy sunglasses for Christopher.

Christopher blowing bubbles with a “bubble jet” Jim bought.

The one adult activity (other than our brief walk on the beach) was sitting around the campfire after the kids went to bed. However, the kids didn’t really cooperate on Saturday night. It was Cece and Andy’s first time camping, and they’d brought flashlights. You can imagine how that went. In the end, Jeff, Emily, and I went to bed around 9:30 PM just to get the kids to go to sleep. Jim was disappointed.

Unlike Jim, I am someone who gets pleasure by watching my child (and his cousins) have fun. I often forget about the adult activities because I have fun with the kid stuff too,

We did better on Sunday night. We decided to start bedtime later, and when we put the kids down once it was fully dark, they went right to sleep. They were tired out from the day of hiking, playing at the beach, and riding their scooters. We enjoyed many beers and played electronic Catch Phrase for a couple of hours.

I had a very enjoyable weekend. Although I am not sure the same can be said for all parents taking a family vacation, including my husband.

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