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Summer vacation with five kids - what this Mom learned

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We just got back from a week on Cape Cod,MA.  A lovely, sunny, laid back, relaxing week where we did little more than hit the beach and then hit our beds shortly thereafter.

Now it's back to reality.  Before dinnertime on day one, I had unpacked everything, done about five loads of laundry and reorganized the basement; the basement wasn't on the agenda for the day but, since I spent so much time down there with the laundry, I couldn't stand tripping over the bins of hand-me-downs and had to do something about it.  As I reached the height of my organizational frenzy, my six year old, Liam, wandered down and asked me to play with him.  When I said I was busy, he whined "But Mom, why don't you ever play with me at home?!"  Which made me realize that I learned a lot over the course of our week away and first day home.

1. My kids like to play with me.  And I like to play with them too.  And I really need to do it more often, not just when we're on vacation.  While we were away, I made sand castles, went on walks (without my phone!), and totally tuned in to the five tots that I'm too often tuning out.  It's so easy to use the "busy" excuse but it's amazing how appreciative they are when I slow down, pay attention and really focus on these amazing little people we're so blessed to have.  There was one night when Ciara just wanted me to sit and snuggle and watch Peter Pan.  And I did.  And she was thrilled.

And so was I.  Let's face it, pretty much any kid activity (sand castles, coloring, bubbles, reading, you name it) is going to be more fun that whatever usually keeps me so busy (laundry, dishes, frantic organizing, email, etc!).  That's why I am going to try harder to actually play with my kids -- and ideally, do so with undivided attention as I keep my phone and email at bay!

2. I need at least eight hours of sleep. While we were away we were routinely in bed by ten or eleven o'clock and slept until the first tot toddled in -- usually between 7:30 and 8:30.  That's a LOT more sleep than the five or six hours I typically get and I have to say, I think I was more pleasant as result!  Of course, the blue skies, beautiful beaches and call of the ocean always perk me up but, I can honestly say that I drank less coffee, awoke less cranky and felt a whole lot better with a few extra hours of shut-eye.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to maintain the eight-hour average as the responsibilities of home and work kick back into high gear but I'm going to try

3. I like my husband.  A lot.  In fact, back in the day, I might have said that I "like him, like him."  These days, we too often go through the motions, the perfunctory "I love you" muttered before we roll over and sack out, exhausted from the constant action here in the Lyons Den.  Vacation was, and always is, a great reminder that this guy I too often bombard with "to-dos" and "why didn't yous" is a great guy.  A guy I once swooned over and thought "this will be the father of my children."  A guy who is a great dad, who always knows the value of playtime and who has always encouraged me to get more sleep.  This is a guy worth listening to more often, who deserves more of my undivided attention and who proved once again while we were away that we make a great team.

It's not easy to load up five kids for a six hour ride or to load up three pack and plays and the rest of our gear but, it's well worth it.  I learned more about my kids, my husband and myself in a week away than I ever would at home.  Just a simple break in the routine is all takes to bring us all closer together.  I'm going try hard to hold onto this loving feeling but know it's likely to fade, as it always does when the stress of our daily lives inevitably mounts.  When it does, I'm going to reread this post, take a look at this picture and remind myself of just how lucky I am.

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