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Traveling with kids is a difficult endeavor
First Published Aug 07 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Aug 07 2014 01:01 am

Dear Carolyn • I once considered "family time" important enough that family travel became an item in our monthly budget so money would never be a reason for not visiting family. Now, with three small kids in tow, I am dreading our yearly trips. I would happily cancel this year’s to save the hassle of days in the car with kids, sleeping in unfamiliar places, and the weeks of poor sleep the youngest experiences when we return. In all honesty, I’d skip two years of trips. But family is still important, so I’m trying to buck up. I can’t get past the resentment, though: Neither of our families seems to have any clue that travel is really difficult right now — not even the ones who have the same number of kids. How do I resolve this pull between the importance of family and the fact that life is just super hard at this stage?

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Dear W. • Family time is very important, and, yes, sometimes you have to force the issue when inertia is keeping you home. But in your case, inertia isn’t the only "no" vote; sanity wants no part of this trip, either. Even your priorities are milling around awkwardly, avoiding eye contact with the pro-vacation set. It is OK, and I would even argue necessary, to throw some of your child-rearing priorities in a closet for a while. All that being said, this doesn’t have to be an either-or decision between a year without family and misery on wheels. If bouncing overstimulated kids from the family truckster to lumpy mattresses and back again doesn’t bond them to the cousinry, then take your plans apart. Is it the car, the schedule, the mattresses? If the answer is no, no and no, then can you get creative? Can you travel with one child at a time, on short trips spread out over the next year, at least till the littles get easier? Can these families join you at kid-friendly places halfway? If that’s another cascade of no, then will any family members come to see you if explicitly invited? What if you put in some of your budgeted money as an incentive? If they decline, then embrace the idea that your reason for staying put is just as good as theirs and release yourself of both guilt and resentment.

Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.




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