Saturday, July 9, 2011

You Say To-may-to, I Say To-mah-to...

My husband and I are both teachers, which means that we both have summers off. Having 6 weeks of uninterrupted bonding time with each other and our kids is the trade-off that we make for not being paid a ton of money and having to deal with the student-parent-administration Trio of Joy for the rest of the year. And I'm not going to lie, it's a good trade-off. 

For this summer, we have rented a small house in Phuket, Thailand. It's a pretty nice house- it has its own small pool, wireless internet (well, some of the time), and a full kitchen. However, it's still just that- a house, NOT a hotel. OK, so it has a maid who comes once a week to change the linens and towels and do a general clean-up, but that is where the similarity to a hotel ends.

So far today, I have made the beds, cooked two meals, washed the dishes, done the laundry, ironed and gone grocery shopping. I will repeat some, if not all, of these chores for most of the days during which we are here. I'll also clean the floors, disinfect the kitchen counters and wipe spots off of the bathroom mirror.

Now, I know that many people out there consider this to not be an ideal vacation set-up. MANY people have the mentality that they go on vacation so that they DON'T have to cook, clean or pick up after their kids.

Well, I am not one of those people.

I USED to be one of those people. I used to love to go on vacation and head to the nicest hotel that we could afford. I loved eating in restaurants, leaving the room when the maid came to clean and then coming back to new sheets on a freshly made bed, followed by an order to room service. I loved not caring about the suitcase full of dirty clothes that I would end up going home with...and, well, you get the idea.

Obviously, that was BEFORE we had kids.

Now that we have them, my idea of a vacation has slightly altered. Just slightly. So, while many of you may not consider our holiday set-up to be the stuff that good vacations are made of, allow me to explain why, for us, it is the PERFECT holiday.

For me, any worthwhile vacation does NOT include any of the following things:

1.) Eating in restaurants with my children. Especially when those children consist of The One Who Won't Sit and The One Who Won't Eat. Oh, sure, we've had the occasional night out and dined in some low-key place with the kids, but those nights are far and few between, AND they weren't very relaxing. In fact, the only reason why we went out was because we felt like we should get out of the house once in a while for a meal.  That's what normal families on holiday together do, isn't it? Well, if it is, I can't for the life of me figure out why.

I much prefer cooking some pasta or a homemade pizza while the kids are swimming, coloring, or watching a video. No need to entertain them until the food comes, hoping that you don't bother the people around you and spoil THEIR holiday. No need to scour the menu for something that the kids will eat, only to end up ordering greasy cheese pizza and french fries. Again. Granted, that is also  the result of the fact that we are a vegetarian family, so our options at restaurants are usually already limited to begin with. When the food is ready, they come in and eat it. When they're done, no sitting and waiting for the check to be paid.

PLUS, it's just cheaper. There is no arguing about that. Restaurant bills add up, even when you are eating in places that have the words "Beach Bar" in the name.

Ahhhhhhhh.....for a parent, this is bliss!

2.) Sharing one room with the kids. I don't know how many of you have ever tried putting small kids to bed while in a hotel room, but unless you, too, want to turn out the lights and go to sleep at 7:00, it is NOT easy. They are just not going to go to sleep with the television or the lights on. Sometimes my husband and I will put the kids in bed, and then go and read in the bathroom until they pass out.

Now, that is something that we are willing to do for a few nights if we're on a weekend away, but for a MONTH? No. Freaking. Way.

There is something so very, very liberating about putting the kids in bed, shutting the door, and actually continuing with our night. What can we do?


Watch a movie! Read a book! Write a blog post! Have a late night snack! Skype with friends!

This? Is awesome.

 3.)  Trying to wash clothes in a hotel sink or bathtub whenever Skyelar spills something, falls in something, or rubs something onto her clothes. Which is EVERYDAY. Sometimes more than once.  One time when we went to Bali, I spent more time in the bathroom trying to scrub various stains out of her clothing than I did by the pool. Or so it felt that way, at least. EVERY available hanging space in our bathroom was taken up with damp clothing, and our towels were relegated to a sad pile on top of the toilet.

Now, I do realize that hotels usually come with laundry services, but after the $90 bill that we got slapped with the last time that we used a hotel's laundry service, this is no longer even in my realm of consideration.

I'll also add that I do not consider walking half a mile in SE Asian heat while carrying a big bag of clothes to the nearest laundry place part of an acceptable vacation, either.

I've done all of the above, and I will sure as HELL take throwing a few loads of laundry into the machine and spending an hour a week ironing over them. Did I say sure as hell? AS HELL.

4.) Sharing a pool with a hundred other families. The pool at this house may be small, and it may not have a shallow end, but the fact that the lounge chairs surrounding it are ALL OURS, as well as the knowledge that 25 other kids haven't spent the past hour peeing in it makes up for that.

We can go out whenever we want to and find a place to sit- no rushing out early to put down towels and claim seats together, no worrying that if we go in to take a nap, there won't be any spaces left when we come out (and along with this comes not having to feel like complete a@#holes by leaving towels thrown over empty chairs for hours at a time in order not to lose them).

There are also no awkward moments when some strange kid comes over and tries to usurp one of our kids' pool toys, which I swear always happens whenever we go on vacation. And I don't mean SHARE them, I mean TAKE them. Which then puts me in the position of being forced to judge their parents because don't they see what's going on? Why aren't they DOING something about it, for god's sake?

See those chairs? We can sit in them WHENEVER WE WANT TO!
There are many more reasons (including the opportunity to go and check out grocery stores in unknown places. I am a COMPLETE grocery store freak, if you did not know that already. Just having an excuse to go to a new grocery store makes any vacation totally, totally fabulous. Unless the grocery store sucks, which they sometimes do), but these are my Big Four.

So, allow me to excuse myself now as I cheerfully get ready to sweep the tile floor AGAIN and start brainstorming tomorrow's breakfast least I won't be in line at the buffet trying to explain to Kaia why they don't serve pancakes everyday, or why she CAN'T have chocolate cereal at home even though they have it at the hotel.

Bliss, I tell you! What's YOUR idea of a great vacation?


  1. I am so glad dad and I could join you for a week. This was one of the best vacations ever.

  2. Nice place.

    I love going to restaurants. But mainly because I hate to cook. I love to eat though so if someone wants to cook for me, I'm happy with that too ;)