Having Fun is Hard Work

My family is wrapping up a week at the beach.

Before we left, my husband was telling a single friend in his 20s about our vacation plans.  We’d be packing up tons of stuff and driving too many miles with 4 children to spend a week at the beach.  The beach is not exactly an “easy” vacation destination with kids:  sunscreen for 4 (plus their parents), swim diapers, more sunscreen, pool toys, gear, lugging gear, more sunscreen.  And sand everywhere.

Single guy’s reaction?  “That doesn’t sound like a vacation.”

It’s true: going on vacation is a lot of work. My husband and I are both happy homebodies; we like to be at home, and we have kids who love routine. So it’s sometimes hard to think that all the work related to going on vacation can actually be worth it.

I have this innate idea that vacations should be easy, and effortless, and stress-free. Maybe one day, but our week at the beach with four kids hasn’t been anything like that.  Vacation is work, and it will take me a week back in my own bed to catch up on the sleep I lost on our vacation, from kids who go to bed on central time but wake up on eastern, like clockwork.  (For the math- or time-zone impaired, that’s an hour less, every night–for eight days.  Ouch!)

Getting things to go smoothly on our trip was hard, and took a lot of effort, and perhaps a little stress.  But I’d like to think that the memories we’ve made are worth it.  And as we head home from the beach and re-enter normal life, I want to remember this vacation lesson.  Some of the best moments in life are completely serendipitous, but many require careful planning–and hard work.

Like last night.  We piled the kids in the car and took them to the gelato shop, at their bedtime, for the all-you-can-eat weekly special.  Between us we tried every flavor except banana.  (Yes, I am the blogger who wrote that post about being healthy.  Well, not last night, we weren’t.) Everyone had tons of fun, sampled all the flavors, relished staying up an hour past normal bedtime. They were flabbergasted when I said they could try four flavors.  Or seven.  Or nine.  That’s soooo unlike their normal healthy mom!

Now, if I’d only had my camera.  (But, that was a little too much work!)

What’s something you do that’s hard work, but worth the effort?

photo © 2009, Ralph Daily, Flickr

Comments

  1. says

    “What’s something you do that’s hard work, but worth the effort?” Being a mom.

    We did the beach for a few days this past weekend/beginning of the week. Two kids, 2yo and 3yo, and our oversized dog. It was a lot of work. A lot. But totally worth the effort of seeing them so happy and excited.

  2. DFrazzled says

    Anne, you are so right. Having fun IS hard work-but we have tried vacations that advertise the ability to have fun just by being there–like a waterpark–and it isn’t. We have way more fun when we take the effort to make it special or unique to our family, which does involve more work on the parents part.

    Other things that make hard work worth it to me are gardening, exercise, and may I add the consistent discipline of young ones? That is VERY hard work, but the rewards are immeasureably greater.

    Hope you all enjoyed your vacation and family time.

  3. says

    Just recently, I had a conversation with my mom about how difficult it was for her when my parents took us camping as kids. Looking back on it, my mom never complained, but there is a lot of work to cook and clean in the great outdoors for a family (while your husband takes the kids to have fun swimming, fishing and hiking). But I’m so grateful for what she did because they are the best childhood memories.

    I also think vacation without kids can be hard work – I always come back from vacation more exhausted than when I left – I’m learning to stop packing trips so full of sightseeing and activities.

  4. says

    I read an article in Faith & Family magazine that has been a sanity saver for me. I try not to think of trips as a family as a “vacation” but as an “adventure”! :)

  5. says

    Getting my WHOLE house COMPLETELY clean takes a fair bit of time and effort, but it is SO worth it. I’m that kind of person that finds it hard to relax in a cluttered room, so it’s good for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually when I have a clean house. It also gives me the chance to take my mind off what I have to get done around the house, and instead just have fun with my husband or with friends.

    Sounds like a great vacation…despite the work!! :)

  6. says

    Oh, you’re so right. Vaction is such hard work for a Mom. We just got back from a week in Asheville. It was worth it though.

    I hope you beat the storm back and you didn’t have to cut your vacation short.

    • Anne says

      Oh, thank you! Asheville sounds fantastic…it’s high up on my “one day” list. Thankfully we’re in the Gulf and not on the East coast!

  7. says

    All you can eat gelato night sounds like a fantastic memory maker! I don’t have children of my own, but in terms of hard work that is worth the effort, I have to say that pretty much every trip I’ve been on that didn’t come pre-packaged and every activity I’ve put together for friends’ children has involved plenty of work, but ended up being much more fun and memorable than the stuff you can have someone else do for you.

  8. says

    I so agree! Most of our vacations are camping. Not a vacation for me! So much packing up to get there, set up, and then tear down again in two days, plus having to come home and have to wash the campfire smell out of everything and inventory for the next trip. Oh for a hotel with room service! Even biking with the kids is a job as for us it’s not just opening the garage door and pedaling out. (City living, ugh.) But it’s the memories the kids remember. I love that they’ll have so much fun to look back on. And the camera — mine recently got destroyed in a freak exploded-pop-can-in-my-purse accident. Not happy. :-(

  9. Beth says

    We thought about going up to the snow with a two year old and a four month old. It was hard work just thinking about it!

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