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Surviving Your Family Vacation

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The vacations before I had kids consisted mainly of tropical beach getaways or romantic trips in new cities with my husband, complete with sightseeing, wine or beer tasting and fine dining. My vacations changed considerably once my children arrived.

Taking children to a theme park gives a whole new meaning to the word "vacation." Let me be clear, it is still wonderful to have family time together and watching the happiness pour over your child's face is wonderful and rewarding. But anyone who has ever participated in such a trip knows that a child having the time of his or her life can quickly change to having a meltdown.

The preparation for the trip starts sometimes weeks before you even leave. There is laundry and packing to do. If a beloved toy or nightlight is forgotten, the blame usually falls on the mom. It's a lot of pressure. This is why I typically make a list, check it while packing and double check it before the car leaves the driveway. But in the event that you realize that something has been overlooked, keep in mind that just about anything can be purchased wherever you are going. So don't sweat it.

The long car ride always takes extra patience, not to mention creativity for car games and detailed planning to have the access to snacks and activities to keep little ones occupied for the duration of the drive.

Once at the hotel, the excitement builds for the kids when we finally get checked into our room. It can turn into a grown-up's game to keep track of how many times you have to say "no jumping on the beds!" I also know that I have at least two nights for my youngest son to become accustomed to sleeping in a strange place. This means for me that I am preparing for two nights of very little sleep.

Finally, the moment that all have been waiting for: going to the theme park. Parents pay outrageous amounts of money for admission tickets, in addition to the expense of overpriced parking, food, drinks and retail items inside the park. You begin to wonder what kind of magical place you must really be in where the water costs $4.00 a bottle. Nine dollars for an espresso drink? What's in it? Liquor?

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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