Summer vacation is a time-honored family tradition. Parents often spend weeks (months?) researching where to go, what to do, how to save money and activities everyone in the family will enjoy. Careful planning goes into packing, maximizing minimal space and time as well as determining each day’s itinerary. No matter how many blogs are read about travel tips, safety tips, planning tips and more….there’s one little secret you won’t read: vacation is tiring.

I just spent a week in New England with my son. We visited Boston Harbor, the New England Aquarium, and most importantly, the new Great Wolf Lodge. We had a ball. But – I’m tired. Very tired.

My son’s nap schedule was off, his bedtime routine was off, and no matter how healthy and yummy the food, his meals were off. As a three-year-old, temper tantrums are to be expected – but sobbing in an elevator for six floors…that was new. Sharing a room was tough. I would be wide awake at night, sitting in the (quiet) dark, afraid to turn on the TV, so he could finally fall – and more importantly stay - asleep. And while there were just two of us – our stuff quickly took over the suite. My new flips flops somehow ended up in the suite’s mini fridge (??). Each night I rinsed out sippy cups, planned the next day’s clothing needs, requested more and more towels and tried to keep track of my daily contact lens supply.

So, I’m tired.

In one of those non-TV-don’t-make-a-sound-there’s-a-sleeping-preschooler-dark moments, I did think to myself, maybe he was too young for a real vacation. Maybe I should have waited until he was older. I thought about how, in reality, he won’t really remember this trip years from now. I wondered if I should have saved the money.

Well, in showing the amazing wisdom little kids so innocently have, he answered those questions for me. During a visit to the waterpark, I watched him explore Fort Mackenzie. First, he tried a slide, and at the bottom, would reach for me to help him up and out. Later, after countless rides, he said, “I can do it” and no longer needed my help. Instead, something new happened. He looked up at me excitedly asked, “Mommy – will you come, too?”

Next thing I knew, we were sliding, side-by-side, hand-in-hand together. We laughed, we splashed, and he said, “Do it again!” (over and over).

I will never forget this trip! I will forget how tired I was. I will forget the tantrums. I will remember his smile. I will remember the joy I felt when he invited me to slide with him. I’ll remember I was his chosen slide partner.

My advice? Take that vacation and treasure every moment.