One of the things Shane and I decided on while we were in Europe was the fact that we wouldn't take our kids anywhere (except to visit family) until they're around the age of 10. Not even to Disneyland, where all of the fun rides have height requirements. For one thing, the kids won't remember the trip so it's not fair to them. I'd rather save their travel costs and take them on bigger vacations later in life when they'll actually get something out of it. What's the point of travelling the world if you're not going to understand or even remember it?
For another thing, the kids miss out on valuable grandparent bonding time. If we wanted to go on vacation, sans kids, that would be the perfect time to either have one set of grandparents visit to take care of them, or to send the kids off to those grandparents. Having spent a lot of time with my own grandparents as a child, I know how much this helped shape me and how important it is. Plus, it's important for the grandparents, too. Since we don't live close to either set of parents, we'll have to make opportunities for our kids to go see them.
Finally, what really cemented our decision was the fact that we saw so many parents with young children (under the age of five) who were obviously spending more of their vacation worrying about their kids, and feeding them, and making sure they weren't throwing tantrums, than they were actually vacationing. These people were everywhere, and none of them looked like they were having a good time. They all looked completely stressed out, and who wouldn't be with the strollers and bottles and diaper changing and kids screaming or running around? We even saw one family (I believe it was at the Colosseum?) who had bought their approximately 2 year old child one of the audio guides, then got mad when the kid threw it. Seriously? Did they really think their child was going to understand any part of what the guide said? The kid was in a stroller! We get so little vacation time as it is, why spend the whole time worrying about your kids? Vacations are supposed to be fun. And I think it's important for parents to take a little bit of time away from being parents so that they remember who they are, and reconnect with their spouses.
Absolutely every parent we saw, no matter what nationality, had the same frazzled look, the same frantic I'm-not-having-fun attitude and the same almost panicked gestures. That is not what I'd call a vacation. It's expensive, and a waste of what would be a fantastic experience for these children later on in life.
Not that I'm trying to announce anything here--no impending little ones. (We went to J&L's house the other night and while I was holding their baby J asked Shane, "Doesn't that worry you?" Shane said, "Absolutely not. The more she gets to hold your baby, the longer we can put off having one of our own." I had to add, "We need to have two paychecks before we can think of babies.") So no babies for a little while. But this was on my mind this morning.
The autumn weather is making me crave all kinds of comfort foods. Apple pie, butternut squash soup, pot roast, lasagna, chicken pot pie... I get the feeling that I'll be making each of these things in the next couple of weeks. Yum!!