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I realized something after becoming a mom: Vacations dramatically change because we take on the job of making sure everyone has a good time, gets to do what they want, and think ahead to avoid meltdowns, and this task starts way before the vacation starts. Long gone are the days of rolling out of bed, throwing some things in a bag and hitting the road.
If we are going away without our family to have a respite from cooking and cleaning, we end up preparing meals, cleaning the house before we go, and making so many vacation to-do lists for our partner our wrist hurts as we are waving goodbye speeding out the driveway because we know if we don't make a clean break, someone is going to need something from us, stat.
Then, we still get the texts coming in asking questions of the things we've already covered, and we worry the house won't be standing when we return.
When we are taking a family trip, moms of the world make sure all of our kids have what they need for the trip. We do the laundry. We make sure the bills are paid and the house is clean so we don't have home exhausted from our vacation and walk into a home that looks like a bomb went off and have a to-do list dangling in our faces.
We know who needs a new swimsuit. We make sure everyone has earbuds that work. We double up on sunscreen and remember to pack nail clippers because you never know when someone is going to have a painful hangnail.
We stock the car with snacks and liquids because we don't want to hear any complaining about hunger and want to avoid stopping 10 times along the way.
We try and squeeze in time to shop for ourselves so we feel fresh and new and remove as much body hair as we can.
We know how to pack the bags in an organized fashion and know at some point someone is going to need some Tylenol and throwing some in your purse is so much easier than trying to find a pharmacy at 10pm because we've learned the hard way.
There are times when we wonder if it's all worth it. Vacations are so much work, we get exhausted just thinking about all it takes out of us (staycations are popular for a reason).
And there is something else many mothers of the world recognize: Dads just throw a bag together (if it's not done for them), and they go. That. Is. It.
Photo by Burcu Avsar
I hear about this all the time, so I'm know it’s not exclusive to my family. I think is the result of mothers having super powers. We can foresee the future in a way dads can't.
We know in order for us to get some enjoyment out of vacations, whether we are going away on our own, or we are going away as a family, there are drastic measures that have to be taken beforehand that cause us to feel like a juiced orange on our way out the door, then our family wonders why we lose it when they tell us they can't find their iPad—at this point, we don't care.
We know there are going to be problems if we don't pack a certain brand of Chapstick and extra underwear for the whole family. We realize someone is going to complain about not being able to sleep without their own pillow, no matter how old they are and if we don't pack it ourselves, or shout out 10 reminders, it's not going to get done and we will be the ones to pay for it later.
I'm still not sure if dads just have it easier, or if moms are doing it wrong by taking care of it all since it feels like second nature to us. But that doesn't take care of the fact we want, and deserve, to have some enjoyment on a vacation as well. And in order to do that, we need to put in the elbow grease beforehand.
This is all a little too fresh in my mind since I have three teens, I just went away for a girls' weekend and sent countless reminders to my kids' father, wrote many lists, and still felt like I was forgetting something the entire time I was there.
I came home an exhausted mess. One might say I need a vacation, but really, I don't have the energy to get my ducks in a row to take another one anytime soon.