The Vacation Code

I am often asked to explain how we survive on vacation with a jillion kids and not so many adults.

It’s simple.

Vacation Rules.

1. Honor the vacation code. Your happiness level on vacation should be 8 or higher. If you feel yourself slipping, you should immediately ask for help. Your peers will drop everything and try to get you back up to where you belong. If, for some reason, you slip to a 5 or lower, you just need to go to your room and get yourself together.


The above pictured is not an old maid, but they are definitely both below a 5.


I guess Philip just really loves turtles.  He’s well above an eight here.

This is critical.  With a ton of people on vacation, it does not do for someone to get a case of the crankies.  Also, we look forward to vacation all year long and for heavens’ sakes, we LOVE each other.  No one will blame you if you need a little time out.
2. Beware the day 4 meltdown. It’s a tried and true concept. On day 4, it will start with one and go downhill from there. Everyone eventually has a day 4 meltdown. (Your mileage may vary- for some it’s late on day 3, for others, it might be day 5.) There WILL be tears, tantrums, extreme exhaustion and general irritibility. All that needs to be said is this: “It’s the day 4 meltdown.” Expect it, be prepared to not be fazed by it and move on with vacation. It’s not a bad thing, really. The meltdown tends to be cleansing and provides a sort of reset.


I have been a mother for 23 years.  I have six kids and we are working on adopting a seventh.  I know a thing or two about vacationing with children.  They are going to flip out.  Everyone is tired.  We are on the go, swimming, walking, going to museums.  They are full of junk food and sand.  We eat stuff on vacation that we don’t typically go for at other times.  And our philosophy is basically this:  Whatever, man, get out of Mommy’s sun.  They have been doing nothing but fun stuff, including playing board games with the grown ups, eating all that candy that Meema brought whenever they want and staying up crazily late.  We are creating between 16 and 18 (it varies) little Veruca Salts and it’s bound to happen.

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Let me point out, however, that this applies to adults as well as children.  See above- tired, junk food, sand, board games with our children, candy, staying up too late.


3. Just know that you will only be getting your way 1/26th to 1/28th of the time. You can’t go wrong if you keep this in mind. That said, we will honor exactly one vacation dream of each and every person. (Mine was good pictures this year.)

We are a team.  It’s about being together and having fun and in my son’s case, getting a sunburn every year.  It’s about looking for a child who shall remain nameless who decided to go spear fishing.  It’s about trying to believe one of the moms when she insists she saw dolphins off of the front porch.  It’s about removing the flying bird statues so they don’t give another mom a panic attack.  It is about togetherness, love and fun, people and don’t you forget it.

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You get your one dream.  One per customer.  Otherwise its all for one and one for all.  We will also see to it that EVERYONE respects, honors and at least pretends to enjoy your one dream.
Here are some examples:
1. A family picture by the ocean

2. Going to Forbes candy store

3. Flying a kite on the sand dunes
4. Playing putt-putt
5. Drinking margaritas out of a really large tervis. (That dream did not belong to a child.)
6. Going to the aquarium.

7. Having Scott’s cavatini for dinner.
8. Resting in a hammock while holding a baby


9. Going to Wings to buy hermit crabs (That one is off the table this year)
10. Chasing ghost crabs at dusk


The memories make it all worth it.

This post is dedicated to Bethany, Philip, Eden, Addy Lin, Ezra, Tae, Drew, Kristin, Michelle, Scott, Angelo, Mia, Miranda, Anthony, Luke, Sam, Caleb, John, Julia, Aubrey, Chase, Lila, Claire and Nora…and anyone else who has ever gone on vacation with us!

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