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The 5 Stages of Grief When Vacationing With Young Children

Photograph by Twenty20

1. Denial

Each vacation booked with young children begins with your denial of the realities of traveling with young children. You look forward to your impending travels, dreaming of the memories you'll create. You imagine traipsing on the beach with your family, sleeping in, and the exhilaration and perspective that come with the change of scenery vacations provide.

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2. Anger

Approximately 37 percent of your vacation is spent applying sunscreen to your tiny screechers while they bat your hands away.

You realize you must set fire to your memories of pre-kid vacations: luxurious naps, time spent reading fat books at the beach and afternoon sex. No good can come from comparing your family vacations with your pre-parenthood vacations. Those days are gone, at least until your kids are grown. At which point you will quite likely be too old to enjoy them.

Except naps.

Speaking of sleep, your children are waking you up even earlier than they do at home. Approximately 37 percent of your vacation is spent applying sunscreen to your tiny screechers while they bat your hands away. 42 percent is spent attempting to sweep sand off their buttocks. 56 percent is spent keeping your kids from toddling off into the ocean and listening to them whine, "It's too hot." (That adds up to more than 100 percent, but you're on vacation time, and vacation days have a terrifying 33 hours instead of the usual 24.)

Your anger is mostly targeted at yourself and your spouse. You should've known better.

3. Bargaining

"I will do anything," you vow, "if we can just have one thing go smoothly on this trip."

But Murphy's Law multiplies with each child you travel with, snowballing more and more opportunities for things to go terribly awry. For instance, with no foreshadowing, your daughter will begin puking the moment you step onto the plane, which sets off a chain reaction, causing your son to join in on Hurlfest 2016. Your baby boy will start teething, begin a sleep regression or develop a mysterious genital rash. Somebody will poop on the beach, and somebody (read: you) will be forced to bury it in secret shame.

You shake your fists at the heavens, because despite your pleas, absolutely nothing is going as planned.

4. Depression

You absorb the deep comprehension that being on vacation with young children is actually just like being at home (you still have to figure out what to feed your kids, you still must force them into sleep and you still must wipe all the orifices), except without the comforts of home (like your daughter's favorite blankie that you forgot to pack, your soft bed, the friends that sustain you and a dim basement where you can go to cry and lick chocolate in sweet solitude).

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5. Acceptance

As you return to the bliss of your own home, you realize that this prison of a vacation, like much of childrearing, will shine far brighter in your memory. The flurry of photographs you snap as you capture the moments where you're smiling so that Facebook will think you had a great vacation will enhance this phenomenon. The recollection of your son's epic meltdown at the Taco Shack because "beans touching rice!" will fade away, as will the pungent scent of your daughter's vomit crusting on your shirt during the airplane ride. The whining—oh dear god the whining—will be but a wisp of a memory someday.

You find yourself considering doing Disney next time.

Because you are creating memories here, dammit.

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