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How Moms Prepare for a Family Vacation vs. How Dads Prepare

Photograph by Twenty20

It’s a week before our family is set to leave for Mexico for the Christmas break. I’ve got a to-do list a mile long, including piles of laundry to finish, iPads to charge, batteries to put into headphones, suitcases for myself and the kids to find and newspapers to put on hold before we leave town.

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Three weeks ago I ordered swimsuits for my kids because their summer suits no longer fit. Two weeks ago I tracked down goggles because neither kid will swim without them and I can’t find their goggles from a few months ago. One week ago, I put a vacation hold on our mail and asked a neighbor to take in any packages that might arrive after we leave.

Moms, by default, are the resident cruise directors and vacation CEOs for no other reason than we are.

And the list keeps going! Today, I ordered a grocery delivery for the morning after we get back and have pre-bought, ordered and wrapped everyone’s holiday gifts even though we return after Christmas and Hanukkah begin. Likewise, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some kid snacks for the plane. Sure we can probably buy food on the plane, but one never knows if they have what they say they'll have. It’s better to be safe than sorry. (Kids can get HANGRY!)

This afternoon, I began packing the kids' bags making sure to include a change of clothing for each for the plane, their favorite stuffed animal, a light jacket just in case, and enough clothing for each day but also enough to anticipate the inevitable spills, tears and lost clothing that comes with traveling with kids.

Finally tonight after putting the kids to bed, in an exhausted stupor, I was able to throw some clothes in a bag for myself and call it packing. As I ran around the room like a Tasmanian Devil trying to gather my own vacation attire my husband said from his perch in bed, “Would you mind moving over. I can’t see the TV.”

See, three days ago, my husband went out to the garage, found his suitcase, brought it in and packed his own bag. That was the sum total of his vacation prep. He didn’t have to think about what the kids will eat on the plane, what they will wear on vacation, if they have their reading books in their carry-ons, or whether or not we all have our passports and where those passports actually are.

He didn’t have to think about anyone’s vacation needs but his own. So as he asked me to move out of the way because my last-minute packing was ruining his ability to watch “Game of Thrones” for the 14th time, I nearly lost my mind.

No wonder he’s always pushing for us to book family trips, he doesn’t have to do anything to prepare for them! Of course traveling with kids is “amazing” when the only person you have to pack for is yourself. I’d want to travel more too, if I only had to worry about me. But I don’t. Because I’m the mom. And moms, by default, are the resident cruise directors and vacation CEOs for no other reason than we are.

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So I did move out of the way of the TV. That’s because I went straight to my computer, looked up the website for our hotel in Mexico, and booked a bunch of spa appointments for myself during the trip. Just because I have to work my ass off to get my entire family on the plane, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself while I’m there. Lord knows, I’ve earned it.

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