Here's the thing. We've grown out of the working vacation. When we only had 1 or 2 bains to tote along, it was a snap - just grab them (and what seemed like a lot of gear) and go. We weren't so significantly outnumbered then.
We went to south Texas for business, and decided to rent a beach house to stay an extra four days. It was great and wonderful and much needed relaxation, BUT 4 kids waiting for Dad to get out of his meetings really cramped our style. Also, since I work part time, I am not used to flying solo with all four bains (Lots of gold stars for you Em!), so that was an adjustment.
I loved our vacation, and learned some invaluable lessons. I will be turning these into fertilizer for our next jaunt.
1) When using mapquest for the journey, input 1 hour stops along the way. This is actually how long it takes to get gas, cruise the gift shop part of the stop and make sure everyone has gone to the bathroom.
2) What ever the estimated time of arrival - add two hours. Or, in our case 5!
3) They are much more self-sufficient than I give them credit for. After 10 hours in the car all you could hear was smack/smack/smack! - some kind of barbaric slapping game they invented and laughed hysterically through.
4) Pack bathing suits near the top of the bag. They will be required about 1.2 seconds after you get there.
5) No matter how tired you are, they are all into this adventure, so ROLL WITH IT.
6) Never forget the soon-to-be-retired diaper bag....as we learned at a nice Japanese restaurant when Butterbain spilled water on himself and faster than we could say "no!" stripped down right there, because his clothes were wet. Oh, and bonus!- he had dressed himself and not put on underwear!!
7) Vacation is not about everything going smoothly - it's about enjoying it when it doesn't. Challenging? You bet. But the rewards will be tons of stories enjoyed in the retelling.
8) Make it longer. This may not be true for everyone, but it took me a full 3 days to really unwind and relax and stop caring so much about time. And then, just when I was getting the hang of drinking a beer with lunch, we had to pack it all up and come home.
Next time I won't try to be a cruise director and plan lots of fun stuff...I will remember that fun to them is us just being together and not having a plan.
I'll be there soon...