No Vacation Guilt

I have 4 young boys and a baby girl on the way.  My husband works hard for our family, and we have a very average income.  We love homeschooling and giving our children experiences every day that will prepare them for life, and we enjoy the little moments as a family as often as we can.

I’m also pretty confident 9 months out of the year.  Confident that homeschooling is the right path for our family.  Confident that the time we have as a family is fleeting, and we will not regret even the bad days.  We take day trips to the pumpkin patch, local farms, homeschool playdays, and in general, we are busy.

Then comes summer.  June, July, and August.  My confidence goes out the window, and social media drives me to doubt the decisions we’d made for 9 months. I wonder why we didn’t save more, didn’t plan accordingly, and why every other parent on social media looks better than us.

I start having ‘we’re not going on vacation guilt.’

HHM Vacation Pinnable Image

The beach, Disney, Lego Land, or even camping.  You name it, and it sends chills down my spine when I see other families off doing the wonderfulness of summer and we aren’t.  Every year I go through it.  Every year I swear the next year will be different. However, I thought about it and remembered that my family rarely took a vacation when I was a child.  They didn’t have the money either.  We went to Disney when I was 5 (which I don’t remember).  We did the beach a handful of times (I also barely remember).

You know what I do remember?  Baking cookies with my mom.  Christmas morning.  Evening walks in the country and picking flowers.  Sitting in my bed late at night and reading Highlights magazines. I have beautiful memories of childhood, and my parents never took me skiing, had a timeshare, or stayed at a luxe resort at Disney. Would those be great memories?  Absolutely.  If we could afford it, would we do it?  Heck yeah.  However, the daily memories that so many of us gift to our children through homeschooling them is what they will remember.

I guess social media is ‘who done it.’  It’s such a blessing to keep up with people, but it can really be a bummer as well. Also, just a shout out to my mommy friends who have little ones like me.  Our boys are 7, 5, 3, and 1, and baby #5 is due in October.  Does vacation to anyone else sound like…torture?  Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but my goodness–to get them packed and happy is beyond me.  Add to that pregnancy and morning sickness well into my second trimester.  Bleh.  Give me a kiddie pool and a glass of sweet tea please.

So, to those of us who still have 4+ 5-point harness seats in our SUVs, let’s remember that this season of life is short, and there will come a season for vacations. I hope you feel less alone if you’re dealing with ‘no-vacation guilt.’  I know I’ll most likely be bummed here and there. However, besides those 7 days/6 nights, there are 358 days of the year left to make awesome memories with our children!

Do you go on vacations with your very young children? (Or did you when your children were very young?) If not, do you feel guilty about not going?  

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  1. Before my husband and I had cash to put aside we did have vacations – they were just at home. We did day trips to the parks, lakes, museums. Camped in our backyard and pretended to be at the beach. During the time when our family was young and both he and I were working through school we had to be creative. Now we do vacation and homeschool and both of us work. However, at the end of the day all our kids care about is that we are with them, playing and loving them.

  2. Thank you for saying this! I clearly remember how miserable my sibs and I were on most family vacations growing up. We wanted to be at home digging in the dirt, reading books, and playing in our dollhouse town. We’ve done some camping trips and a couple trips to visit relatives ourselves with kids (now 2 and 5). The kids were so tired and irritable from having their schedule disrupted, my hubby and I were so tired from all the work of the trip, and we had such a mess of unpacking and laundry when we came home, it took weeks to recover. I can’t imagine it with four kids. We’ll go to a weekend Stroke Camp every year (a mother’s dream… tons of volunteers, mostly RNs, who are all eager to entertain my kids for me. Last year my daughter was really into shoes and one volunteer spent an entire break out session discussing shoes with her). Otherwise, we’ll wait till the kids are old enough to pack, unpack, do their own laundry, and keep their sleep problems to themselves.:)

  3. I lived in a neighborhood where NO ONE took vacations during the summer. Every parent worked! It was rare that moms and dads got days off like that.
    That all changed when I was in middle school. My dad was elected as a Credit Union official and our Summer vacations consisted of stays in Orlando! We totally looked forward to Summers!
    Then came married life and baby, plus baby, plus baby, plus baby, plus baby, plus baby (yep! 6!)! My husband and I discovered what my parents went through.
    In our 20 years of marriage, we’ve taken one vacation that WE paid for!
    Oh…our children enjoy vacations with the grandparents! 😉

  4. Thanks for the great post and the good question Liz. We’ve struggled with this too. I think you and Nita nailed it! I am a traveler with lots of wanderlust. My hubby’s ideal vacation includes fast food or PB, the sofa, the remote and a good book. Our kids interests are all over the map too. We’ve done some stay-cationing, vacationing with family, camping with friends, etc. the things that are most important are doing what is most important to the people you love – making positive, cherished memories that will last a lifetime. No amount of money or special location alone can make that. Good for you for loving on one another right where you are!

  5. Yes, I think social media had done a lot of damage. No, we can’t afford (nor will ever be able to afford) a Disney, an Abroad or other vacation of this type. That is not to say, that we won’t have a wonderful summer full of memories. No matter where you live, you can do that.

  6. I totally agree! I’m so glad you said this. I’m not sure we are doing anything this summer. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d like to relax. Unless someone will take my 3 kids for the week and pay for my vacation, I can’t relax. I’d love to go somewhere but this year I think we will chill by the pool.

  7. Vacations are the only way that families with kids in school can have an extended period of time together to just enjoy being around each other. Homeschooling families already have time together so a vacation isn’t really necessary, though it can be fun if you can afford it. Our family had exactly one big vacation, in 2000 when my kids were 16, 15, 9 and 7. Two weeks in FL on the non-Disney tour (we did the perimeter of FL but avoided Orlando). It’s a great memory now, but at the time I was really glad to get back home to Saxon Algebra 2! So don’t feel badly that you don’t have a big vacation planned this summer. Your family is blessed to be together all year long 🙂

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