BUT! We do see the light. We went back to the beach a couple weeks ago and it was…(wait for it)… fun! I agree with Amber when she said the ratio right now is about 40% hard work and 60% fun. This time the hard work was mostly before and after the trip (preparing and recovering). And at night. Yes, vacation nights are still a challenge. Our strategy this time for the kids sharing a room was to put Graham to sleep and then let Violet stay up until she passed out, at which time we would quietly slip her into bed. They would wake up in the morning, thrilled to see each other.
This is what really happened:
- 7:30 – baths, PJs
- 8:00 – put Graham to bed, listen to him wail at the injustice
- 8:15 – read Violet books, settle in to watch TV and “relax” with her until she falls asleep
- 8:30-10 – watch Violet bounce around the room with increasing frenzy until I freak out and insist that she lay down on the living room bed; listen to her wail at the injustice
- 11:00 – put sleeping Violet in the bedroom with Graham; go to sleep
- 12:00 – Graham wakes up, which wakes up Violet; I bring Graham to my bed, Rob puts Violet back to sleep
- 1:00 – I put sleeping Graham in the pack-n-play
- 2:00 – Violet wakes up, wakes up Graham, etc. repeat until morning
- 7:00 – I wake up to find myself in the bedroom with Graham, who is grinning at me from the pack-n-play; Rob and Violet are already awake; I send Graham out the door and collapse until 7:45
All together, Rob and I got about 3 hours of sleep that night. And yet (after my coffee) we were able to pull ourselves through and enjoy the day: morning at the beach, lunch out, naps for all, an afternoon at the pool and dinner with friends. Granted, my sleep deprived brain led to over-cooked chicken and burned biscuits, but we were all fed. And had wine. And the kids get along very well. They actually entertain each other so we can have a somewhat continuous grown-up conversation. Serious big thanks to Amber, Michael, Becky and Lucky for inviting us down (and encouraging us to try again).
The second night went something like this:
- 7:00 – complete Violet meltdown, so into the bath
- 7:30 – put Graham to bed
- 8:00 – clean up while Violet watches “Charlotte’s Web” for the five hundredth time that weekend
- 9 – 10:00 – argue with Violet about laying down in the living room bed to go to sleep
- 10:00 – give up when Violet wails about missing her brother and wanting to sleep in his room; put her in there; Graham wakes up, screaming
- 10:05 – Graham stops crying; we peek in and Violet is hanging over the pack-n-play cooing “It’s okay little boy. Go to sleep. Shhhh… night-night…”
- 10:10 – both kids are asleep; we pass out
- 12:00 – Violet wakes up; we put her in the other living room bed
- 6:30 – Graham wakes up, so we all do too
So, six solid hours of sleep! What a difference that makes. We were down on the beach at 7:30 and eating a lovely brunch by 11. By 1 we had cleaned up and left for the aquarium. Last year we paid $37 to chase Violet through the exhibits and watch her play on the playground, she was that uninterested. This time she was amazed. Graham couldn’t stop gasping, pointing and saying, “OH! OH! Wow!”
On the 3.5 hour ride to the beach the kids slept at the same time for exactly 4 minutes. It was the best 4 minutes ever. On the way back it was about 30 minutes. Sweet sweet 30 minutes. And yet! They were well behaved! They snacked, watched the world fly by, kept each other entertained, and oh, watched videos (whew, thank god for the portable dvd player).
I see a bright future of family vacation fun. It can happen. Soon. This was a good trial run for the next trip in a couple weeks: Six hour plane ride to Portland followed by a 4.5 hour car ride. Pray for us.