This month at Circolo delle Mamme Viaggiatrici we decided to ponder and discuss what works best for us at ‘vacation time’: together with other children and families or concentrating on keeping it intimate – just the family nucleus.

For me it was an easy dialogue since I have only ever vacationed with my children alone.

As a single mom used to doing things ‘on my own’, I have always vacationed without husbands or significant other – just with the kids.  We haven’t had the experience of inviting anyone to go with us or entertained going with anyone else.  The responsibility of making someone else’s child happy for longer than a few hours is daunting for me and so I don’t do it.

I do admire the variations that parents come up with to make vacationing with kids more comfortable and easy going.   I have friends who always travel in a ‘pack’ with their kids.  Of course, families with more than two kids already are a pack unto themselves, with rituals all their own which I find fascinating.  Usually each child gets to invite a friend on outings so that each one has a playmate to occupy them.  Fantastic idea. All the parent has to do is ‘manage’ the outing.  Applied to vacation time, it would be much the same as going to the Mall or roller skating or afternoon cooking school but more hours. I like it – but the thought of doing nothing but managing activity time slots, like a school teacher or benign traffic cop is not fun for me.

In America, there really isn’t a lot of ‘time’ in vacation time anyway so we are talking about a few precious days here and there. In Italy, where Ferragosto means two whole weeks to spend together it takes on a whole different meaning.

The other day I met an American woman who has lived in Italy many years and has a daughter Ani’s age. She told me that in Italy it is normal for the kids to be invited  on vacation with another family for a period of time, where you kind of give your kid away for a couple of weeks. Often of course it is also with grandparents or close friends, sometimes it is with families of school friends.  This year will be that girl’s first experience staying away from her mom.  Although the American mother already said yes to two vacations for her daughter, she is a bit unsure how she really feels about it all. I expressed that I would be a little apprehensive, especially since my Girl is only eleven, even though it is culturally acceptable. I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get there. 

 For now, I am a happily convinced ‘vacation with your children on your own‘ mom. Yes, there are times where my children have bemoaned the lack of a ‘partner in crime’ so they are not bored.

 The point of my taking the time off to go on vacation is to be get to know one another better in an atmosphere that is not filled with daily routine. With the realization of how precious time is, it has been my choice to concentrate more on intimacy and the possibility of weaving together special moments to remember. Those lumps of boredom, when they come up, are a perfect way to see how kids deal with the unfortunate but very real fact that life is not always Disneyland.  Just figuring out  how to be still and listening to the heart movements of the world around you is also valid . Today, with the stress of working long hours and an ever frenetic lifestyle, even in the land of ‘la dolce vita‘ – the pleasure of being present with my children outweighs the ‘freedom’ traveling in a group or with an additional child offers. Let’s see what living in Italy will teach us about vacationing ‘solo’ in the future.  

To see how the other Circle moms spend their vacation time with their bebe’s be sure to click through to visit Alessandra at Lali Viaggi, Valentina at Family Company and the effervescent Silvia with her Tripando blog post as soon as you can! Here’s to a fantastic vacation!