Before we moved back to the east coast we only saw our parents once or twice a year. After we found out we were having our first child we moved back to the east coast to be nearer to our families. We are now firmly planted directly in the middle of both sets of grandparents. And it’s wonderful.
Several years ago my mother had a stroke. And wow, wake-up call. You think you have a lot of time with your parents, you think your kids have a lot of time with your parents and in a moment it can change. Mike and I had children in our 30’s and when you wait it also means your parents are older. The unfortunate reality is that if my children wait, as long to have children my parents may not be there for that. I want my children to have vivid, happy memories of their grandparents when they are no longer with us. I want them to know how much they were loved and cherished. To that end we have started taking vacations together. What kind of quality time could be better?
Lots of resorts and companies have also taken note of this growing travel market. Companies are starting to market to multi-generational families (have you seen the Disney commercials with the grandparents). Resorts are redesigning the rooms to allow for multi-generational families to travel comfortably.
Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned:
1. Book a house, condo or suite: We have traveled with grandparents and stayed in both hotel rooms and in homes or condos. The condo (or house) is by far the better option. First, there is enough space for everyone to spread out. Your parents have some privacy and so do you. Second, it can be cheaper to split one rental than two separate hotel rooms. This has proven true at a number of places including the Outer Banks, Disney World, Williamsburg and Boston.
2. Interests and Time: We are planning a trip to Florida in November. My husband and I are excited to see the Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center. My parents, not that excited. They are planning on keeping the baby while we take Addie to Kennedy Space Center. During the same trip, my brother, father and husband are going to the Old Spice Basketball Classic while my mother and I shop. Everyone is happy.
3. Mom and Dad Time/Grandma and Grandpa Time: We try to make it a point to go out one night for a date while we have a babysitter. Our parents are more than happy to keep the kids for us one night so we can go eat without cutting food into small pieces or having baby wipes within arms reach. We also make it a point to make sure our parents go out one night as well.
4. Time for the Grandchildren: We are very fortunate that both sets of grandparents are so willing to take our kids for some alone time. And I don’t mean for us. I mean my mom and my husband’s mother will take Addie to the spa to get her nails done. Or my parents will take Addie to tea and love it. Very special moments for the grandparents and for my children.
5. Flying with help is awesome. My parents have flown with us on several occasions and it has been a blessing. Not only are there multiple hands but also everyone can take turns entertaining toddlers on the plane. (My four year old tends to sleep but when she is not asleep she is energetic) Last trip we flew with both kids for the first time and having more adults just made everything from security lines to seating to unloading luggage at the curb much, much easier.
Those are just some of the things that we have learned along the way. I am sure there are many others. But here are some of our favorite places to go with grandparents:
----Disney offers villa accommodations and they are spacious and provide everyone some privacy. Also, Disney can be a place where the baby needs to sleep and the four year old needs to go. Between us and a set of parents we can pretty easily make these things happen simultaneously. Finally, we tend to eat at some nicer places at Disney and having an extra set of adults at the table just makes it less stressful.
---The Outer Banks is not that far from here. It has a multitude of rental options in every price range. Having a place near the beach means we can divide and conquer. Someone wants to swim while one naps is no problem with four adults. We also like the low-key feel of this vacation with the grandparents. Not a ton to do, maybe ice cream is the most exciting thing at the end of a night.
---For many of the same reasons as the Outer Banks. It’s low-key. We go every summer. My dad takes my four-year-old fishing, Mike and I might take out the canoe and my mom relaxes with a book while Seth is asleep. It’s inexpensive. As far as vacations go, this one can be done on the cheap and there are plenty of home rentals to choose from, oceanfront or lakefront.
---We did this trip with my parents. It was nice because it wasn’t far to go. We drove. Our condo was enormous. There was plenty to do if we wanted to split up (our resort offered everything from wine seminars to ice cream sundaes). We spent quality time together in Colonial Williamsburg. There was no itinerary.
Some of the major travel companies are now marketing toward this traveler. Multi-generational travel deals can be found through Disney, Azul Resorts, Beaches, and almost any other major All-Inclusive brand. Also, most cruise lines are now offering families perks for traveling together.
I believe that the times my children spend with their grandparents are special. And one of the most special times together is when we are all relaxed, enjoying our time together, on vacation. If you haven’t traveled with your family I would encourage it. I just hope we can continue to travel together for a number of years to come.