A popular vacation destination’s blog recently asked, “How old were you the first time you visited us?” I found myself smiling and thinking of two answers. First I answered for myself; I was 11. Then I found myself answering about the first time I took my son; he was six weeks old.
The blog’s question got me thinking about the vacations we take first as children, as adults and as parents. Vacation comes in different forms. It can be a road trip touring national parks. It can be time relaxing on a warm sandy beach. It can be an annual reunion with family. Vacation can be a multi-week excursion or a weekend getaway. There is no right or wrong answer. All that matters is that you are spending precious moments together with those who mean the most.
When people learn I work for Great Wolf Lodge, they often ask, “How old should kids be before they visit?” Friends will tell me they are waiting for their child to be the “perfect age” before they take a family vacation.
Before I became a mom, I thought that way, too. I was practical; why spend money on a vacation a baby will not remember? Why lug all the baby's gear the entire time? How would I enjoy such a vacation?
But as they say, a child changes everything. And I no longer look at family vacation as a milestone to aspire to. Instead, I look forward to visiting new places with our son, on new experiences we can do together and I focus on the joy we find in these special outings. Even if he doesn't remember them all yet - my husband and I do.
Aiden was eight months old when he visited his first Great Wolf Lodge. Our stay was brief – just one night. But, during that time, I heard a first new laugh, we learned he loves the wave pool just as much as the older kids, and we saw that he has no fear of smiling wolves! (He literally dove out of my husband’s arms into Wiley’s waiting paws.)
While at the resort, we met other families with little ones. One family was visiting with their four children – and their youngest was six months old. No one talked about lugging diaper bags or rearranging nap schedules or struggling to pop open the stroller. Instead, they talked about how their toddlers giggled in the kiddie pools, delighted at the singing animals during Story Time and best of all, how the entire family cuddled together during their special getaway to Great Wolf Lodge.
If there is one thing I have learned as a mom, it’s that I don’t have to worry about planning the perfect vacation, waiting for the perfect age or going at the perfect time. All I need to focus on is the time we’ll spend together. And isn’t that truly what vacation is all about?