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I am a regular lurker, tho I don't post much lately. I hope you all can help me because I really need some new ideas and perspectives to help me get past my current mental blockage on this vacation issue. Hope this doesn't get too long....<br><br>
Here's the situation: DH works 12-14 hours a day at our small restaurant, I am at home with dd#3 (2yrs) during the day. I also work at the restaurant every afternoon doing books and work at least one full day (often 2 or 3 days/week) cooking, etc. We also have 2 other dds, 11 and 12.5. I'm a pretty typical busy AP mom, with the added fun of frequently having to switch gears from the needs of a toddler to the needs of adolescents, which are so often in direct opposition. Overall, our lives are fairly balanced, even with DH working a lot, because we are not apart for all those hours and we have plenty of flexibility to meet our families needs since we own our business.<br><br>
What I can't figure out is how to plan and pull off a vacation that meets everyone's needs and fits in out budget. We went a few years without any when we were opening the restaurant, and now we really feel like we need and deserve and can afford ($ and time) to go away, but I can't seem to get it right. I can't even figure out what the older kids want or expect. I know that family vacations are not a vacation for Mom - and really, I would be ok with that if we could just enjoy ourselves on the trips we do take. But there is just too much whining and fighting and stress and tiredness - it's not worth it to me. Why spend so much money to put yourself in a new location if all that happens is magnification of all your regular family stresses?<br><br>
For example, we went to Williamsburg for spring break. We picked it because it was within a (long) days drive, it had a good mix of activities available and it would be warm and there would be trees blooming and flowers and all that spring stuff that you really need by the first week in April in Michigan. I found us a suite hotel, so we would have more space (condo would have been better, but I was too late to reserve one once I got everyone to agree on where to go). I did what research I had time for - got a guidebook but didn't have enough time to read it all - and we set off. To make a long story a bit shorter....Williamsburg was a bit of a bust- the kids only got into it intermittently, we spent way too much time waiting in lines cuz we didn't know how much it would have helped to buy tickets ahead of time, the eldest dd pulled a couple pre-teen mood swing snits....So for what we paid to get the family in, it didn't seem worth it. Went to a nice aquarium another day, but didn't have enough time to get up to Chincoteauge like we hoped - so we drove over the bridge-tunnel to explore a bit on the eastern shore, which was beautiful, I thought, but the kids and DH remember it as a really long drive for nothing. Had a great seafood meal back in Virginia beach, tho. Decided not to go to Busch Gardens, cuz the girls said they didn't like rides and roller coasters enough to wait in long lines, but now they say they didn't want to go because they thought it wouldn't be a good place for the toddler. No word of that at the time...ggrrrrr! The parts of the trip that were the best were the aquarium, hitting a fun playground for a couple hours, the seafood meal, and having just ice cream for dinner one night. All things we could have done right here at home.<br><br>
I guess what bothers me the most is that I did hours of extra work to plan, prepare, shop, pack, wash, unpack and we spent hundreds of $$ to go to a new and unique environment, and nobody seemed to enjoy that aspect of it. Plus, I got to deal with all the extra stresses of tired, ill-fed (despite my best efforts to bring and provide healthy food) out-of-routine kids. I'm having trouble seeing that it's worth it.<br><br>
Last summer we rented a house in northern MI, which was beautiful, but it's expensive, and it had it's various pro's and con's. And the girls don't want to do the same thing again this year.<br><br>
I'm just so tired of it all being up to me, being accused of making decisions without caring what anybody else wants and then when I try to involve people in the decicion making, I get nothing I can really use to make a plan. Or I make what turns out to be not the best decision, and our precious vacation time and money seem wasted.<br><br>
Ok - so that got kind of long - sorry! and it's late here - wow! I gotta hit the sack, but I'll post this and hope some of you might be able to help me with some insight to get me past this. Thanks all!
 

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What I do (to get my dh to help w/ the decision, my kids are still too young to have much input) is to come up with maybe 3 or 4 different places *I* want to go to. Then I ask if he has any opinion instead of just saying "where do you want to go?" which can be kind of overwhelming, there are so many places in the world. We also sat down and wrote up a list of the places we most want to see- our "top ten" so we have something to refer to to narrow it down.<br><br>
My first instinct for you was to let your older dd's pick the location and that way they'd be less likely to complain about it. But you said they aren't interested in making the decision-? My mom (who has a 14 yo and 16 yo at home) picks where she wants to go and if the kids would rather stay at the condo or hotel and watch movies she lets them and her and my dad go out. Maybe that would work for you? Good luck....
 
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