by Aurora Bordeaux
Some Baby Off Board readers have been asking a very good question about this summer’s “Family Vacation” Series: If it’s such a chore and sooo all about kids, why do you show up?
Yeah man! I’m an adult and I do what I want. Attending these big family beach weeks is a stressor and sucks up time, so why do I make the conscious choice to do it?
Because I love the Hubs, and because I respect his parents. This week means a lot to his family, and I am part of his family now, so I play the game. The trick is adding your own rules and maneuvers so you actually enjoy it.
The Hubs’s parents don’t always make total sense to me, but they are good people, and they treasure getting the entire clan together every summer. They put a lot of money into renting a house and organizing everything, and they would be genuinely sad if we weren’t part of the beach gang. I have misunderstood them at times, but as I have slowly learned in-law language over the course of my nearly 10 years with the Hubs, I have come to see that these people love me. If they want me to be included, I should be there.
Baby Off Board is all about me, but life isn’t. We shouldn’t live to make others happy, but sometimes you have to put your own preferences aside to do something nice for those who have been good to you.
Plus, the Hubs said that it’s fine if I skip the trip, but he’s going anyway. Was I going to let him ditch me in a tumbling house of cards and pack the rest of our belongings while he jetted off to the coast for a week? No way, buster.
Over the course of years with the Hubs’s family, I have gradually figured out how to make these child-focused vacations still work for me. In case you and I happen to have a lot in common (aka, you are a super pale introvert) and you are a childfree adult getting roped into a family vacation series of your own, here is how I have learned to make family trips bearable, if not pleasant. You’re welcome.
How to Survive Family Vacations as a Childfree Adult
- Get out for lunch, preferably with your significant other. Go somewhere fun. If you are visiting a place so dead in the sticks that there is nowhere to eat, pack a picnic. But leave the fold and get some quality time with yourself or your SO every day.
- Children’s nap time is now your free zone. Use it to interact with the adults in the group so you don’t seem totally aloof. Playing card games or board games is preferable since it is a neutral activity everyone can focus on. I like Uno.
- You can drink a little in the evenings, but don’t go overboard if the rest of them don’t partake. If you are in a house where they judge, spike your coffee cup.
- If children are around and they’re bothering you, find a place where you can be part of the group but not as affected by their behavior. I generally park about 10 feet from the crowd. I can be seen and chime in, but I’m reading a book in the safety zone.
- Bring books. Short stories are best because if interesting conversation comes up or you are asked a question, it’s easier to check out and then check back in. Books you don’t care about getting wet are preferable due to pool splashes or, sometimes, the need to read outside when it’s sprinkling if you just have to get the hell out when kids go nuts on rainy days.
- Remember that if this trip is still just not working for you, it’s only a week. You can survive a week.
- If the family is a group of leather skinned sun worshipers and you burn like a teen beat vampire, you are not required to hang out poolside. Slather on your SPF 70 like a boss and sit in the shade, baby.
- The Zombieland mantra holds true: Enjoy the little things.
- Never apologize for who you are.
On last year’s family vacation, I had just started Baby Off Board. It was the first year I could turn my discomfort and frustrations into something entertaining. To my surprise, people connected with and responded to what I was dealing with. It was wonderful.
Going into this year, I knew that I would walk out with a few stories, but having the perspective of blogging about it lessened the impact and made whatever weird thing happened almost fun. It wasn’t bullshit anymore, it was blog fodder. Stories that would usually make me go for a tailspin now became funny much faster because I was no longer a childfree freak, I was a childfree Jane Goodall with internal binoculars and a notebook the world was eager to read.
Baby Off Board has been a phenomenon for me. I’m new to the blogging world and started the project on a lark less than a year and a half ago. Now, my pet project is somehow climbing the charts of childfree blogs across the Internet. The blog has nearly 300,000 page loads, and our childfree forum has close to 80,000—none of my own page loads are counted, folks. So when odd stuff happens now, I have someone to tell, and that makes it worth it.
Plus, hey, free beach!