Snackless and wilted, we stepped off the boat in Horseshoe Bay after a week-long trip to Keats Island with the kids. We climbed into the truck and the battery was dead. After a jump by a good samaritan, we were back on the highway (to hell) home. Jack was hungry and wailed, but luckily Layla’s high-pitched banshee interpretations of classic nursery rhymes helped calm him. For about 10 minutes. While stopped at the gas station for snacks, Layla’s incessant chants for a Happy Meal began. I could feel the wrinkles multiple around my bloodshot eyes.
As every parent knows, the post-vacation ride home is just the beginning. There’s the mountain of laundry to be washed, spousal fights to be won about who was right about what stuff wasn’t needed on the trip, and of course the irritable kids to get back on schedule with.
But there’s yet another level of excruciating recuperation that stay-at-home parents know all too well. I like to call it the family vacation hangover. Your partner goes back to work, and the kids realize they’re no longer allowed to eat Cheetos for dinner.
The family vacation hangover is similar to your typical booze-fueled hangover. Deprived of sleep, you spend all day searching for a cure. Instead of pining for water or greasy food though, you long for a good hiding spot, maybe even some pity from the other stay-at-home parents in the neighbourhood. And like the typical hangover, you just have to wait it out. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t just disappear the following day. It drags on all week.
Depending on the age of the kids, the family vacation hangover experience is slightly different. For example, I have an almost-three and a just-over-one. They obsess over everything. At the cabin, my daughter found a pink, inflatable purse with a lizard sewn into it. She carried it to the beach, she hoarded things in it, and she slept with it at night. It stayed at the cabin, but she’s asked for it – oh I don’t know, about 7,568,498,078 times in the last two days. When I explain that the purse is still at the cabin, I’m met with a sea of tears.
The hangover is just as rough on my kids as it is on me.
Fortunately, as the week goes on, and my daughter catches up with her Paw Patrol, we’ll slowly settle back into our routine.
For now, I’ll settle for water and greasy food while I wait.