We always receive a mixed response when we tell friends and family that we are going to Croatia with our boys. Some people respond by saying “that’s awesome” and others say that we’re “brave.” More often than not, you hear that travelling with children is more of a trip than a vacation. I can see how that is, especially if your children are challenging (or lively) like mine. But on the other hand, knowing that it’s not easy, is simply half the battle. What I can tell you for sure is that even the most uptight of parents, with the most spirited children, can still enjoy a vacation abroad.
We’ve travelled in the past with the kids before, where some trips went off without a hitch and others have been so bad to the point where we say “we are never doing this again!” However, my husband and I both have that travel bug in us and we so badly want to instil that same love of travelling in our kids. In January we decided to give it a try again and booked a trip to Croatia for the end of June.
We spent three glorious (well depends on who you ask…) weeks in Croatia. The first week went without a hitch. The kids loved staying in Zagreb and at Hotel Dubrovnik. They were overall, very well-behaved. They climatized to the time change and to the food well. Heck, they loved the food. With that being said, we weren’t strict at all when it came to diet because we knew that this was the time to indulge. We all deserved it! They really enjoyed the sights and sounds of Zagreb and were amazed at all it’s lovely buildings and landmarks. Our kids enjoyed the three-hour car ride to our family home in Vodice, where they were enamoured of the mountains along the way. They were so excited to arrive at dida’s house and to go swimming on the beach.
Week two is when things started to become tough. The older child wanted to go home to his bed and the younger one refused to sleep at night. This resulted in some cranky kids. Perhaps they were overstimulated by all the sounds and sights of the beach. Perhaps it was from all the sugar they were intaking. Who knows? Some days they were upset that the water was too cold or that their ice cream was melting funny. It was hard as parents to not get frustrated, but that’s kids though. They have their moments; some days they weren’t too into things and other days they were great.
Our oldest is a screamer and it’s been challenging with him, and when he would scream, I just step away and remind myself, he’s just a kid and I just need to shake it off, I want to enjoy this vacation. I spent a lot of time reading “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka over this trip and boy, did it really help me get through those tough moments. During those moments when he would get upset at the beach, I would take him to a quiet area and say “I know you are angry, what is it that you need?”
There were some days that we just didn’t go anywhere, and that was okay, because little kids get tired and sometimes you just have to roll with it. Does that mean I did not enjoy myself? Absolutely not. I enjoyed not having to do chores and errands, or going to work everyday. While they watched a show, I would read a book in one hand, and drink a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) in the other.
You see, it’s all about perspective. Going into a vacation and knowing there will be obstacles makes you better prepared for how to handle them. This is where we failed during our last trip. Some children have a calmer temperament and others are more challenging. Ours happen to be more challenging so we decided to just roll with it this time around, and in the end, we did find a way to enjoy this vacation.
This is not to say that the whole trip was full of tantrums and meltdowns, there were lots of good parts as well, such as: going on mini road-trips and visiting family; going to the children’s waterpark at the Solaris Resort, and so on. We got to spend a lot of quality time with family and friends, be it on the beach or at a restaurant. My husband and I managed to get some alone time over dinner or coffee, which was a nice treat. On our last night, my husband and I went out for dinner and got to enjoy some tamburica at a local restaurant. The point is, that is what a vacation is about: it’s about making memories and making the most of that special time together.
Yesterday, someone at soccer practice asked me how the trip went. I smiled and replied: “as good as you can get with kids.”