Chillin the Most (The mantra that least describes vacation with kids)

I know summer is behind us, almost officially. I meant to write this post as soon as we got  back from our epic family Labor day camping trip, but back to school week proved to be even more insane than I thought. 


Look at me chillin!

Speaking of our Labor day camping trip, it was amazing! Every year our family takes a camping trip about an hour North of here, it’s nothing fancy and it’s not really too terribly rustic. It’s really a campground by a lake near a cornfield and some cows and yes we have flush toilets and showers.

But that doesn’t really matter, it’s not the what, it’s the who…

This year we had 35 people camping, we are one camping site away from taking up an entire section of the campground, and I have to admit, we’re pretty proud of ourselves.

The one site in our section that was not in our family had a wicked sweet trailer. They had the nicest camping chairs I have ever seen, they even had an inflatable screen and a projector so they could watch the sandlot around the campfire. Seriously.

But the thing the had that I found the most ridiculous was this big, red flag that said “chillin the most.” (NAME THAT KID ROCK SONG!)

For the first few days that flag taunted me…. and for the last few it just made me laugh. Well played flag… well played.

Because for me, there is nothing “chillin” about camping with kids… or any other vacation with kids for that matter.

I love our annual  camping trip, we reconnect with family and get ridiculous tan-lines. We fall asleep in sandy beds after one too many s’mores… but guys? it is crazy exhausting and not one iota “chillin.”

If I’m honest, it feels like trying to connect with my family while ensuring that my kids don’t drown, get kidnapped, burn themselves or break something.

There is no break, there is no, hey guys, I need you to spend an hour of your day in the playroom or by the TV while the baby naps. There is just… where’s Caedmon? Where’s Noelle? Oh sweetie no you can’t touch that because it’s been in the fire and “I really hope the baby doesn’t overheat trying to nap in that screen tent.”

I realize camping is a bit more high maintenance than other vacation options, like renting a nice cottage or staying in one you already own, but it’s the tradition.

Nevertheless I’m pretty sure that no vacation with kids is relaxing because you’re out of your element and your safe routines. And there is this CRAZY PRESSURE to make it feel awesome and then when you feel spread thin… to feel like you’re doing it wrong.


If you feel this way on vacation, know this: Me too! Vacation and even summer with little ones (especially when you’re out numbered) is crazy!

Everyone else is all “look at me on the beach with a drink in my hand!” and you’re all “when I’m on the beach all I do is count little heads! 1,2,3… phew!…. Wait where’s the first one? IS SHE DROWNING??? No.. okay… there she is… 1,2,3… phew!… I should probably reapply sunscreen and get them to drink non-lake water…. 1,2,3….”

Chillin’ the most!

You are not doing it wrong, it’s just hard. You’re not supposed to be “chillin the most” because you have little people to keep alive. You have to stay alert!

They tell me that this will all pay off when they’re older, and I believe them 110%

We will be a better family for having reconnected and it will create bonds that will last a lifetime. It will get easier when they’re older and they learn the ropes.

But I wanted to write this, for myself and for all my friends who come out of the summer wondering why there was nothing chill about it. You are not doing it wrong, you are a mother of little people, it’s not you… it’s them… and the season… we’re set up to be busy.

So while they’re at school, grab a Pumpkin spice latte, out your feet up and chill the most… or however much you can.


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  • Jill –

    Great post Leanne! You know what you are doing exactly RIGHT about vacation with kids? Laughing about it! We have to have a sense of humor about how hard it is to “relax” in these years. No they aren’t relaxing but they are amazing in other ways. Your sense of humor is exactly the right way to approach it. And YES as someone whose parents took me and my two siblings camping my whole childhood, it is something that connected our family in a strong way. As adults (with kids) now we still love to spend time together. I look at my parents and I think I want exactly what they have when I’m their age. :-) Love your post and love you!

    • Leanne Penny

      Thanks friend! Kind words all! Love you riiiiiight back.