Four couples, ten children, sand, surf, a pool, and competitive corn hole at midnight. This is our vacation with friends at the Outer Banks. For three years now, we have been renting a house in Nags Head, NC for a week of fun in the sun with the kids by day and grown-up games by night. It’s not always peaceful, or restful (as anyone vacationing with children knows), but it is sort of wonderful.
My husband and his friends have been renting houses in the Outer Banks since they were in high school, but three years ago the friends with children decided to rent a more “family friendly” house. Apparently, single bachelors don’t appreciate waking up at 6 am to rounds of hide-and-seek and screaming children. Back then there were only seven children to eight adults, so obviously we are not only out-numbered now, but we have been fairly busy making babies.
When it started, I was thinking about the family house as a way to balance our desire to mix grown-up fun with our need to care for our children by day. I suppose it was a selfish way of thinking about it, but I wanted the opportunity to enjoy a margarita or two and maybe play some overly competitive games with friends after the children were put to bed for the night. Oh and give my children the chance to enjoy hours at the beach and pool (i.e. get so worn out that they sleep uninterrupted while I responsibly sip my spritzer).
What I discovered was that this trip has turned into a wonderful tradition for my children and into a really amazing opportunity for four families to lean on each other and help create a vacation that is actually worth taking. That is once we worked out the kinks and a.) realized that moms and dads need to take shifts being on kid duty – especially in the mornings, b.) we have to go with the flow and be patient because we have all been there with screaming babies, tantrums, bathroom accidents, etc., c.) the Moms need a girls night out, d.) the Dads get to have an afternoon to play golf, and e.) we need a separate bathroom for each family (arguably the most important lesson of all).
The children now look forward to the trip with giddiness. They love frolicking on the beach and then jumping into the house pool. For them sharing the bunk bed room with their friends, snuggling up and watching DVDs before bed and eating ice cream pops on the balcony after dinner are memories they will never forget.
For me, I love the way we help care for each other’s children, We are watching them grow and change each year. I love our annual picture on the beach at sunset of everyone in their matching custom-made t-shirts. I love that the Moms get to bond and commiserate the “joys” of motherhood while toasting our pina coladas and the Dads get to relive their glory days and compete over everything. Sometimes the house is a chaotic show that as one visiting bachelor friend put it, “Feels like I just walked into the ninth circle of hell.”
Other times, like right now as a I write this, it is actually peaceful. Of course, the babies are napping and the Dads are with the older children at the beach. So, ah I can breathe and soak in some alone time. And yes, I actually chose to write a blog post during one of these rare moments. I think I need to stop now and lounge poolside for the 15 minutes of solitude I have left.
Please share with me some of your vacation traditions on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tinystepsmommy.com.