Last night we got home from our first official family vacation and it was magical! We’ve traveled a many times with Amalia with family and with friends, but this was the first time where it was just the three of us with no agenda other than enjoying each other and the sunshine.
We decided to go back to Sarasota, Florida after a great babymoon. It might seem like kind of a random location, but we picked it originally because it was one of the few places with warm weather on the east coast that wasn’t affected by Zika last year. When we got there, we fell in love with both the hotel and the town, so it was an easy decision to go back.
We also knew that the flight would be quick and painless with the baby, the rental car situation at the Sarasota airport is so easy, and the drive to town is only 15 minutes. These days, vacation is just as much about ease as it is about the location for us.
After a really rough trip to LA in January (Amalia and Anel got the worst stomach bug) and a few stressful road trips, I was nervous about how it would go, but it exceeded even my wildest expectations and made me excited for vacations to come.
Everyone warned me that “vacations” after you have kids are actually just “family trips” because there is no relaxing, but we found that not to be true! Yes it was different and there was definitely way less relaxing, but traveling with only one kid who still naps is not bad at all.
I have a whole new view of motherhood after spending time with my little family without having to rush to be anywhere or do anything. The three of us connected as family in a new way that I can’t even explain. It was nice to just enjoy each other’s company without having to rush anywhere or worry to much about work and errands.
I think the trip was so successful because we were really strategic about a few things:
1. Nap time: Anel and I knew that Amalia would be super cranky and exhausted if she didn’t get her two full naps each day, and she’s not one to casually nap at the beach, so we decided that she would take both of her naps in the room and we’d take turns being “on duty.”
Anel planned a round of golf during one morning nap and worked out the next day, and I spent an afternoon nap at the beach and another one by the pool. This also allowed us to each get some alone time doing something that we loved, and made it feel a little like a pre-baby vacation
We both had a lot of work to do while we were there, so when we were on duty, we would sit on the balcony of the hotel room and get work done until she woke up. That also cut down on stress last night when we got home because we weren’t totally backed up.
I got a lot of questions about what she sleeps in when we travel, and we always bring our Baby Bjorn travel crib. We usually fly on Delta where you can check anything baby-related for free so we check it when we fly. I’m not sure about other airlines, but look into that! The first time we used it was on a road trip to New Hampshire and we had her sleep in it for a few naps at home before we traveled so that she would be used to it. She’s now used it for probably six or seven trips and finally sleeps as well in it as she does at home.
2. Activities: We kept everything to a minimum. Between her naps we went to the beach, on walks, and to a botanical garden, but most of the time we spent at our hotel’s pool because it was just so easy and so pleasant. Again, not all that exciting, but she got to splash around, we got to enjoy the sun, and there was no stress. When we weren’t in the water, we would put her on a towel in the shade with some toys and take turns playing with her.
We definitely could have done more beach time or checked out more sites, but not having to get her in and out of the car in the heat and figuring out scheduling around naps was so worth it.
Part of the reason that other trips we’ve taken have been so stressful is that we’re always trying to figure out logistics and rushing around for her feeding and nap schedule, so we strategically decided to eliminate that stress and it made a huge difference.
3. Dinners: We both still feel uncomfortable with strangers babysitting her after a few weird experiences, so we opted to not to get babysitters at night. That said, Amalia is usually asleep by 6:30 so we had to get creative around dinner time.
One night, we went out at 5:30 for an early bird special and put her to bed a little late. The other nights, we put her down at her usual time and ate our dinner on the balcony of the club level (on the same floor as our room) with the baby monitor, similar to how we do it at home. Otherwise, we would have been sitting in a dark hotel room from 6:30pm on every night.
We ordered up from the restaurant downstairs and took advantage of the free drinks while we watched the sunset over the ocean. While it was definitely quieter than our usual vacation nights, it was easy, the food was good, and it got us in bed by 10pm every night which had us well rested for our cute but enthusiastic 6:45am wake up call each morning! Anel and I were really able to connect the way we used to on vacations without phones in a beautiful location.
Side note: I realize that someone is probably going to call me a terrible mother for leaving my child in a hotel room, but she was only a few hundred feet from where we were sitting, and we watched her the whole time on the monitor. What sealed the deal for me was that our room to the club was the same distance as her bedroom to our family room at home.
Overall, the vacation was just really easy and happy and relaxing and I’m so glad that we decided to book it last minute. While it was definitely different than what we’re used to, we made it work by taking the stress out of as many situations as possible. We’re coming into this week feeling happy and connected as a family!
In the name of transparency, just wanted to let you know that although this blog post isn’t sponsored (aka I’m not being paid to write it), the hotel gave us comped rooms for two nights and a press rate for the third night. In exchange, I was required to post on Instagram but I mentioned the hotel in this post because we truly loved it!