• Tips For Surviving A Multi-Family Vacation (with small children)

    Posted on July 15, 2014 by Darcy in Crib Notes, Traveling.

    Remember when we told you how much fun it is to “vacation” with a toddler? Well, it is so much fun that I recently decided to go on a vacation with not just one, but several toddlers – and threw a couple of preschoolers in the mix just to spice things up! We went to the beach for a long weekend with two other families, and I am pleased to report that despite having six adults and six children (all five and under) confined to a small but lovely house for over 72 hours, we had a really fun-tastic time – and we survived! (with a few bumps and bruises…) I did, however, learn some important things to consider before going away with that awesome family that you’ve barbecued with a few times.

      family vacay 3

    • Parenting Styles Matter: If your family is the strict scheduled, no-tv, no junk food sort of gang, it’s probably best to avoid going away with the free-wheelers who, even in a non-vacation setting, throw schedules to the wind. Good luck trying to get your kid to bed while 4 other kids are watching Frozen and eating cheese doodles and ding dongs for dinner. (For the record, it’s generally my kids who are doing the ding dong pushing and movie watching on vacation – so no judgments here!)
    • Coordinate in Advance: It’s always good to coordinate for meals, groceries, and the necessities – like toilet paper and beer. But with several babies and children under one roof for three meals and endless snacks a day, we prepared like were were moving the Fifth Marine Division. Anticipating your child’s needs is probably second nature at this point. But anticipating your child’s needs in reaction to several other children’s needs is a whole new challenge. Plan accordingly.
    • Be Prepared to Lose Your Deposit: Remember the old days (like college) when you went on a trip with your friends and were concerned that someone would get too drunk and destroy things? Well children under five are almost exactly like drunk college kids – they are loud, have very little regard for property or personal space, and they frequently wet their pants. You are now sharing a house with a troop of pint-sized frat boys (and girls). The house will surely not be treated with respect.
    • Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Children: Often times when there are several adults around, there is an expectation that there are enough eyes to ensure the safety of all children present. In fact, this is a dangerous assumption, especially in a social atmosphere that dominates a multi-family vacation. We instituted a rule in the house for safety’s sake – your kids, your responsibility (unless specifically asked). Make sure parenting responsibilities are clear with your partner, as well. There might have been one or two times over the course of our holiday weekend where in the midst of chatting with our friends we turned to each other and said, “I thought you were watching him!”
    Those families look suspicious...

    Those families look suspicious…

    • There Will Be Chaos: Did I mention that a gathering with the under-5 set can feel like a bit like a frat? I have a whole new respect for our daycare center and preschool teachers.
    • There Will Be TV: The ultimate way to calm the chaos, not to mention a fabulous child care option for those inevitable crack of dawn OMGIHAVETOGETUPAT5AMBECAUSEIDONTWANTTOMISSANYFUN! wake ups.  Your kids will be having plenty of outdoor fun on vacation. When in the house, TV is your friend.
    • Have a Sense of Humor: There will be missed bedtimes and missed naps, there will be junk food, there will be uneaten dinners, there will be television, there will be toys lost, and there might even be nudity, some bickering, and things getting broken. But there will also be a lot of fun… if you can laugh. And that’s what vacation is all about!

    Happy summer everyone… and GOOD LUCK!

19 Responses so far.

  1. Michelle says:

    Going to the beach with two other families later this month. The kids love each other, families are great, total and complete chaos but then that is part of the fun, right?

  2. Olfa says:

    We went on vacation with 2 other families. It went well. We set some ground rules and everyone was responsible for their own children. It worked out well.

    • Darcy says:

      I think going on vacation with other families can be an awesome experience for both the parents and the kids. It’s just important to lay down the ground rules ahead of time so everyone is on the same page!

  3. Priceless says:

    I am cracking up at “Be Prepared to Lose Your Deposit”…very entertaining post. I don’t think I have enough patience or hair to deal with a gaggle of toddlers…my one nephew is too much as it is, and I think the most kids I had under my care at one time was two. Oh wait…I babysat 4 kids at once before when I was a teen…but not all toddlers.

    • Darcy says:

      Seriously there are just so many other ways that toddlers are like drunk frat boys- I think I said pee in their pants, but I should have said pee in inappropriate places. Sigh. haha

  4. Jaime says:

    Oh man. I don’t think I would like traveling with another family especially with a few kids. One is more than enough. I travelled with my niece and her son last year and that wasn’t too bad. My daughter and my great nephew fought but that is more than enough for me.

    • Darcy says:

      I understand – believe me! But it’s also great fun for the kids to get to have these kind of experiences. I try to keep that in mind during the harder parts of the trip.

  5. Elayna says:

    You are brave! I am not sure I would want to try this “at home.” LOL

    • Darcy says:

      My friend agrees and opts for the “staycation” with just her family. I can’t say I don’t see the benefit! haha

  6. Courtney says:

    Great tips. I like how you included the one to keep your eye on your own kids. I do think that when a lot of people are around that they might think the others are watching the little ones.

    • Darcy says:

      It’s true. We actually know some people where this happened to tragic consequence. Needless to say it’s made me super paranoid about knowing my children’s whereabouts at all times.

  7. Chrissy says:

    Oh my, there is so much to do and keep track of in my Family of 5 so these are really great tips! We live by Disney and go there a lot!

  8. Louida says:

    I remember the days of traveling with toddlers, not very fun. Thank goodness my daughters are older and we just finished up a long road trip with no problems. We had stuff to keep them entertained.

    • Darcy says:

      I keep thinking that there is going to be a time when all of this stuff becomes easy. A light at the end of the tunnel! Of course then I’ll be complaining that they aren’t babies anymore… no one can win! haha.

  9. Kung says:

    Oh we there will be chaos! We have done this a few times and the chaos is unreal! but it was all worth it.

  10. Robin says:

    We go to Disney World every year, but when we go next month, for the first time we are going with another family. I am little nervous about it.

    • Darcy says:

      No need to be nervous- I think it’s more fun for the kids to get to do things with their friends, and it’s nice for the adults, as well. It’s just important to manage expectations. Plus if it’s a disaster, you can go back to doing a solo family trip! Have a great time!

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