We traveled with Jack (2) & Claire (4) to Costa Rica and stayed for a little over two and a half weeks. I was nervous to be away from home for so long with two small kiddos and had no idea what to expect. Would it be constant chaos? Would it be relaxing at all? In a pre-kid life a beach vacation entails relaxing on beach chairs, soaking up sunshine, dozing, powering through novels, being intimate with your husband more than usual, eating out, sipping cocktails and strolling in and out of shops trying to find the perfect mementos to bring home.
Our first day of travel included a red-eye flight, followed by a tantrum when Claire realized the beach we had been promising was not directly outside the airport doors. Then a four hour car ride (several tantrums, loads of whining - this is taking a long tiiiime, when will we be in the real costa rica....when we finally made it to the real Costa Rica, a.k.a beach, the sun was setting. Claire ran towards the water, threw off all off her clothes and laid belly down in the ocean laughing and smiling. Like finally, this is what I came for. It was magic for about twenty minutes. until she realized that getting back in her clothes post swim with sand on her feet was a tricky process. Tantrum. Dinner was on the beach under white lights and palm trees, ocean waves crashing in the background, and us parents frantically ordering food and pleading that the waiter bring it as fast as possible before we, and the rest of the guests, would have to endure meltdowns. The food was lovely, the backdrop perfect, our kids playing in the sand as we finished our meals. Then a sand fight, sand in the eyes, screaming child, pay quickly and exit apologetically. Note to self - limit eating out in public.
The entire trip went like that. Highs and lows. But it was the best most priceless time to have as a family. Normal life does not allow us to be together 24/7 for anywhere near that length of time. And as hard as it can be to be stuck together, no breaks, no babysitter, it was wonderfully challenging and fun. There was no time to read, we realized quickly that Jack can not go into shops without man handling every breakable item, we nixed car-ride day trips as the car became the most detested time for the kids (and us), and we embraced what worked. At the end we were proud parents. We did it. Together. It was a good experience. We
want will do this again next year. We can travel with our kids. Yay. And the photos make it look like it was paradise all the time and our kids never whine - so that's a bonus :)