Vacation vs. Adventure


Before switching careers to “Stay at Home Mom,” I was a high school English teacher.  I spent quite a bit of time teaching students about the importance of word choice:  the nuances, connotations, and impressions each word carries and how to choose the best one for each piece of writing.  I was surprised that the importance of word choice carried over into my second career!

Growing up, the word vacation meant a fun family trip each summer; to Branson, Kansas City, and once, Disney World.  As an adult, summer vacation meant a break from work (especially grading) and time to sleep in, scrapbook, and spend time with friends.  “Vacation” for me definitely includes relaxing and decompressing.

Enter children.

Right before my son turned one, my husband said, “Let’s take a camping vacation to Yellowstone with my family.”  Breaking out in a cold sweat, I started shaking my head and backing away. 

My violent reaction surprised me!  I love my in laws.  They are laid back, fun to be around, super helpful with the kids, and all around great people.  And, I love to travel to all kinds of places for all kinds of reasons. As a single adult and after my hubby and I got married, I’ve been on vacations, study exchanges and mission trips all over the world.

Then it hit me.  It was his use of the word “vacation.”  The first definition for “vacation” in the American Heritage College Dictionary is: “A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest or relaxation, esp. one with pay granted to an employee.”  Traveling with children is in no way relaxing or restful.  And I certainly don’t get paid for it!  Packing and preparing for the trip gets me exhausted before I even leave town; messed up sleeping, eating and napping schedules + extra excitement lead to cranky kids; and unpacking and readjusting once back home while exhausted is more exhausting! 

Adding to my stress level is unreasonable germophobia.  I think almost all moms are germophobic to some extent, but my encounter with typhoid (which is another story for another post), my tendency to worry and over think every minor illness or injury, and my extreme aversion to vomit (I’m a sympathy barfer, for sure) have made me borderline obsessive.  I should buy stock in all wipes, cloths, and cleaners that sanitize. After wiping down every surface and my kids’ hands multiple time (I sometimes fear my thumb sucking daughter will have no skin left on her thumb because I wipe it off so much) , I still worry. When out of town not near the doctors who know and understand my kids and me, it’s TEN TIMES WORSE.

If the trip were a vacation, I would relax on a beach somewhere, get uninterrupted sleep, have romantic dates with the hubby that are not interrupted by someone pooping or needing to be taken to poop, and the only behind I would wipe for the duration of the vacation would be my own!

Squashing my perfectionistic type A personality is hard, but I’m working at it.  Misadventures often make the best memories and stories later, right?

Vacation vs. Adventure

So what’s a mom to do?! I want to travel with my family (immediate and extended) and make those scrapbook-able memories to last a lifetime.  A word choice revision and an attitude adjustment on my part were needed.  Instead of vacations, I have deemed trips with children, “adventures,” defined, in part, by the American Heritage College Dictionary as: “1.  A hazardous or uncertain undertaking. 2. An unusual or exciting experience. 3. Participating in hazardous or exciting experiences: the love of adventure.”  Travelling with children is definitely hazardous, uncertain, unusual, and exciting.  And it is possible to love it. That Yellowstone trip?  Memories I treasure include my son smiling at every hiker we passed (his aunt said he was building his fan club), impromptu dance parties in the fifth wheel, and seeing the majesty of God’s creation.

As we approach an upcoming plane trip with a one year old and three year old, I am trying to plan ahead as best I can, but also relax and try to enjoy the unpredictability.  I am striving to trust God more (as I should with everything; not just travelling). Squashing my perfectionistic type A personality is hard, but I’m working at it.  Misadventures often make the best memories and stories later, right?

Are any of you headed out on an "adventure" this summer with the kiddos? Any tips and tricks to share?

Guest Author

About {Janel}

Stay at Home Mom to Isaac (3) and Selah (1) is my job title. My husband Phil graciously puts up with my scrapbooking hobby. I teach violin lessons and perform at church, in a string quartet, and at several other venues. In my former life, I was a high school English teacher and liked to run 5k’s and attend kick boxing class regularly.