Family Staycation Tips: How to Make the Most of Lazy Long Weekends

family staycation tipsWith Labor Day almost here (I swear I just turned my wall calendar page to August … and now it’s already time to buy a PTSA calendar), we thought we would share some family staycation tips. For those of you ran out of time to plan a Labor Day trip or just decided to relax at home, we talked to some other working moms about their best family staycation tips.

Psst: On the “real” vacation side of things, we’ve talked about the easiest vacation resorts for working moms, three companies that rent baby gear for travel, vacation planning, flying with kids, and tips for using Airbnb with kids. We’ve talked about staycations before over on Corporette, as well. 

1. Make sure you’re on the same page about what the weekend will look like. That advice comes from J. Whitley, whose kids are 4, 6, and 11. “For us, the most important thing is making sure we’re all on the same page before we begin,” she says. “I’m DOWN for getting out of the house at 7 a.m. and driving two hours to an awesome hike/tour/festival/getaway/amusement park, etc. My partner and kids? Not so much. They’d all prefer to sleep late or watch TV for the morning, have brunch, and then go somewhere around 3:30–4:30 in the afternoon and stay late. More than one weekend has been spoiled because of miscommunicated expectations/wishes.”

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Family Vacations and Coworker Jealousy

family vacations and coworker jealousy

Here’s what is perhaps an odd question: Do you ever feel like there is coworker jealousy surrounding your family vacations? What are your best tips for office etiquette and family vacations — what are the best tips on how to take family vacations without instilling coworker jealousy? (AND: How many “buffer” days to you take off to prepare/recover from your family vacation?)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a vacation with kids is a trip — not a vacation! Still, as we’ve talked about before, many parents schedule regular family vacations, which means it may “feel” to coworkers like you’re going on lots of “fun trips.” (I vaguely remember feeling like this when I was a single girl working in BigLaw — and I think there’s definitely a difference to be made in “messaging” around the vacation.) Furthermore, because you may already know the upcoming dates and schedules for school and so forth, you may book the vacation and have it calendared FAR in advance — and that may make coworkers feel like you’re “taking” the best vacation dates. (We got into this a bit with our discussion of holidays, vacations, and office etiquette over at Corporette.)

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The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working Moms

The Easiest Family Vacation Resorts for Working MomsWhich family vacation resorts have you tried and enjoyed? Are there any you’ve tried that you wouldn’t? Which is your kids’ favorite? When you want to have a fun family vacation but don’t want to do a lot of planning, where do you go? Which do you think are the easiest family vacation resorts for working moms?

Before my husband and I became parents, I wouldn’t have considered an all-inclusive and/or resort-type of vacation. We valued flexibility and spontaneity: the opportunity to have our full pick of hotels and B&Bs, the ability to choose any restaurants we wanted and also to discover some by wandering around a new city, etc. Why would we want to limit ourselves by taking a cruise or staying in a resort, and why would we want to stay in one place?

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Three Companies That Rent Baby Gear for Travel

New parents learn very quickly that going anywhere with a baby requires a lot of “stuff.” If you’re going out to dinner and bringing a diaper bag packed with supplies, that’s not so bad, but family vacations are another story. If your destination is nowhere near friends or relatives with baby gear that you can share or borrow, you’re likely to find yourself with a long list of things to take with you: carseat, stroller, baby carrier, Pack ‘n Play, etc. That can be a huge hassle, especially if you’re flying with kids. Have you ever used a service that rents baby gear for travel? What did you rent? Do you have any other strategies for dealing with a need for baby gear on a trip? As the holidays approach, we thought we would round up three companies that rent baby gear for traveling families:

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Vacation Planning: How Early is Too Early?

vacation-planning-a-year-in-advanceI’ve mentioned before that I’m not great at planning family vacations. Now that J is in kindergarten, though, the school year feels a lot more constraining on our schedule… and I realize it’s only going to get worse from here on out. In order to try to force myself to plan vacations, my husband and I just picked a few things we know we want to do, are divvying up the planning work, and we’re trying to block the year out ahead of time so we know what’s what, with school schedules and other major dates in there.

I’ve heard a bit about “year planning,” as well as about planning way in advance for some trips (I’ve read articles that suggest you plan Disney 9-12 months in advance!) — so I thought it might make an interesting discussion here.  So: Do YOU plan your year in advance, including visits with far-flung relatives, vacations, mini-trips, date nights, etc? Do you go by the school year, calendar year, or something else? If you have grandparents far away do you try to visit them, have them visit you, or explore a new place together? Does this help you stalk ticket prices/hotel prices and the like, help you with planning (or outsourcing planning), or otherwise mentally help you plan? (For those of you who’ve been doing this a while, are there major pitfalls to watch out for?) I had found a summer planner earlier this year that really saved me this summer (I can’t find it now, of course), and we just had a nice discussion about the best planners and planning tools over on Corporette, so I thought we’d discuss here.

(A blogger’s blogger who I follow, Michael Hyatt, has a single Excel spreadsheet that looks awesome for planning your year — it’s from 2013 but you just have to update one cell to the correct date and it automatically changes the dates to the current year.)

Ladies, what say you — are you this ahead of the game? Does it make division of labor easier or harder for vacation planning, as well as for requesting work vacations and more? 

(Pictured: Private collection; all rights reserved.)

Tips for Flying with Kids

Flying with KidsI was just talking with one of my mom friends about my best tips for flying with kids and thought it might make an interesting discussion over here. So ladies, what are your best tips for flying with kids? Have you found that different things worked when they were babies, then toddlers, then kindergartners and beyond? You may want to check out previous tips for using AirBnB with kids, as well as pumping while flying.

Pictured, clockwise: Applesauce / Stroller for car seat / Gate check bag for strollers / Thermos bottlelarge, lightweight, durable nylon bag for carrying on / kiddie headphones.

  • Pack snacks that suck. OK, here is my top tip: You need to pack snacks that kids can suck on to help alleviate ear pressure. Applesauce pouchesThermos/Zoli cups (not straw Take & Toss), lollipops for bigger kids, bottles/binkies/Mom for littler kids. (I always nursed on the plane… it tended to make them sleepy, too, which we always welcomed.) Another big tip: Warn your kids their ears are going to hurt, once before the trip happens and again, loudly, once when you’re on the plane and it’s starting to make its ascent/descent. This accomplishes two things, the first of which is that hopefully your kid won’t freak out when they feel pressure building. Even when the boys were infants I would explain this to them, because who knows what they understand and don’t — you can pull at your ear and their ear more if they’re littler. The second thing this accomplishes is giving your seatmates a heads-up. I think for new parents, particularly, it can be stressful flying with kids because you remember being that single adult on the plane who hated whenever kids cried. Before I had kids it never occurred to me it’s because they’re freaked out that they feel like their heads might explode… so consider it a subtle, informal education for your seatmates. We also bring a lot of other snacks, an empty plastic bag for all our little wrappers and other trash, and as many napkins as we can steal from the airport Au Bon Pain or wherever.

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