Whatever happened to those family vacations where everyone just piled into one vehicle and drove off into the sunset? It didn't matter how many people were in the car because we didn't have to wear seatbelts. Everyone just crammed right in; personal space stayed home. Picture a bunch of clowns getting into their tiny clown car.
That's what we look like everytime we go somewhere as a family of nine. A bunch of clowns. For the holiday weekend, we went home to visit family. We drove seperately; I had three kids and the dog, my husband had the other four kids and all the luggage. For a long weekend, you wouldn't think you would have to pack everything under the sun, but when you are packing for nine people, it certainly seems that way. We crammed in fishing poles, sleeping bags, 3 suitcases, 3 large duffle bags, and a partridge in a pear tree. I was grateful for the fact that I got to ride with the baby, my oldest, and our five year old. No one took their shoes off, so we avoided the "stinky foot funk" that almost always surfaces on long car rides. The dog didn't whine and cry, and the baby only tortured us for fifteen minutes. The radio station played some of my favorite tunes before we lost the station and I had to turn on my ipod. My oldest brought his own and even though he wore earphones, I could still hear his as well as my own.
It was actually kind of fun caravanning (forgive me if that is not a word). I wish we had walkie talkies instead of cell phones just to add to the excitement. My husband and his crew felt the need to air themselves out by sticking their feet and hands out the windows and sunroof (I am guessing it was because they all took their shoes off or passed gas or both if they were really wound up). I did my best to sing and dance while driving not only because I am naturally talented and love to share said talents with everyone, but also because I wanted to emberrass my oldest son. I must be losing my touch-he seemed unphased by the whole show.
Everytime we were able to pull up next to each other on the highway, my twelve year old who was riding shotgun made the most fascinating faces I have ever seen. I wanted to tell him that if someone were to smack him on the back while he made faces it would actually stay that way. All we were missing was a sign that said, "To Beverly or Bust." What the heck does that mean anyway?
I can remember as a kid going on vacation all those great games we used to play, you know, before technology ruined everything? Games like I Spy, liscense plate games, On the Way to the Zoo, Twenty Questions, etc. Those were the days. My younger brother and I liked to play a game called, "Mom, she hit me!" and my personal favorite, "Thumb War." Thumb wars almost always turned into more violent games and led to Dad shouting, "If you two don't cut that out I am going to pull this car over!" Memories.
I was shocked by the fact that we didn't have to stop once on our trip home to go potty or to find a pacifier or sippy cup. Granted, it's only a four hour drive, but with that many kids, we made it without pulling over! I am terrified to discover how long car rides with two toilet trained girls go. Our three year old is still working on getting rid of her pull-ups. At least with boys you can just pull over to the side of the road. I told my husband that we need to bring the little potty when we go on trips so the girls can just use that.
Aside from enduring the "car ride stench," family vacations are so much fun. They provide plenty of bonding time, spontaneous teachable moments, and they create memories that last a lifetime. Even if your vacation destination is just an hour away, there is always that excitement that comes with being somewhere else. Who could forget those lasting memories of someone barfing in the backseat? Of shoving matches over who sits where? Of leaving half of what you packed back home? Of older siblings telling younger siblings to stop singing because they are trying to sleep? Of older siblings asking for a bite of younger siblings candy bar and taking half of it because they are mean?
Family vacations are a right of passage for every family. Some of my favorite movies are all about family vacations. As long as you don't eat food in the picnic basket that the dog whizzed on and you don't get the car stuck under a logger truck, vacation should go smoothly. I highly suggest brushing up on some kiddie songs and some travel games before leaving. I find making a list of everything I need to pack, buy, and do before leaving helps tremendously (that is if you check everything off that list and don't forget anything at home). And one last little tip-don't forget the Benedryl! You can knock the kids out or yourself if you're not driving!