My mother-in-law rented a house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware last week. This beach is halfway between my brother-in-law’s family in Maryland, and our house in Pennsylvania, and since our four kids are perfectly matched up with their four kids in age, it works well to vacation together. Of course, any vacation involving eight children under the age of 10 (including two toddlers!) is not going to be entirely relaxing, so we had some low moments. But also some good moments.
In the fun category:
Fun Land. I know, it’s there in the name! This arcade and kiddie ride business has been on the boardwalk for 50+ years. The kids had a good time, of course, but I also learned I am freakishly good at the piano game. You press one of four keys that corresponds with the tile you see lit up on the screen. At Fun Land, I made it on to the leader board, a feat I repeated at another smaller arcade nearby. I won so many tickets I traded them in for a Nerf bow and arrow for the 6-year-old.
Running on the boardwalk. This is always a highlight of beach trips for me. I only got to run twice because the temperatures hit 90 degrees almost every day. So I needed to run early, and my early mornings were either consumed by the toddler or napping after being up with the toddler. However, when the toddler was up early, I would go for long walks with him on the boardwalk. Add in some beautiful sunrises, and a path that went by some fragrant honeysuckle, and it was OK. Not as nice as sleeping past 6:30 a.m., but OK.
Swimming in the waves. When the surf isn’t too rough, getting out in the ocean for a bit is marvelously cooling on hot days. I spent a lot of time chatting with my 9-year-old out in the ocean, since he likes to go in and stay in for as long as possible. Any time I was on the beach and not responsible for the toddler was nice. My in-laws packed this great tent that made for serious shade. It was a nice touch. (A side note: I am a chronic under-packer. This is why I like to vacation with just-in-case types. I get to use their stuff!)
Girl bonding. My sister-in-law and I managed to hit the outlet mall and get a pedicure during the week while the menfolk had the kids. My daughter was not thrilled that I left her behind on the pedicure trip so I guess I’ll have to find a salon around here to let her try it some time.
Sipping Blue Moon on the porch. Our house was on a corner with lots of passersby to watch. I find that a beer on a summer afternoon (naptime) or evening (post toddler bedtime) makes people watching even nicer.
Cousins! We did a bunch of “sleep overs” with the kids switching rooms. They had a great time!
The family Olympics. My 8-year-old nephew organized an aquatic competition in our house pool involving cannonballs, most original jumps, races, and belly flops. He had medals for the winners. It was very cute (and methodical — he had a whole binder listing the events and who would be competing).
Ice cream. I would gladly eat ice cream parlor ice cream (chocolate moose tracks!) nightly. But I cut myself off at 3 cones during the week, and tried to savor them.
Browseabout Books. If anyone is planning on visiting Rehoboth Beach, I would highly recommend the local book store. I walked in and was not at first impressed. The front section was all kitschy beach gifts (it is a beach town). However, I walked farther in and learned that the children’s section was great, and it included a Thomas the Train play table. We spent a loooong time there before I left with a talking Thomas engine and 3 books (Ladybug Girl at the Beach, the BFG, and a Jedi Academy graphic novel).
New words. The 18-month-old is learning new words left and right. He can now string them together (Bye-bye Dada, etc.) He quickly picked up “shovel” and “bucket” and other beach related phrases. He is incredibly friendly too. He would wave at anyone walking by, with his little face lighting up. It is the rare person who won’t grin back to a toddler that says “Hi! Hi!”
In the not-so-great category:
Getting to a restaurant that had claimed kid friendliness, only to find they had no kid’s menu — which is OK, kids can eat smaller stuff off the regular menu — but also no high chairs. Fortunately, I was in the no-toddler table that night but my husband and his brother had quite the time of it with the un-contained little ones.
Middle of the night wake-ups. Not fun at home, not fun at the beach.
4:40 AM wake-ups. So I can deal with a middle-of-the-night wake-up if the toddler goes back down and then sleeps past 6:30 a.m. (as often happens at home in these situations). But a few nights this week, the toddler woke up at 3:30 a.m., one of us would get him back down, and then he would be up again at 4:40 for good. Ugh. However, last night at home he slept from about 8:10 p.m. to 6:10 a.m. This is progress, and I will take it!
Photo: Boardwalk fun! (Time-stamp 6:18 a.m.)
8 thoughts on “168 hours in Rehoboth Beach”
I feel for you on the toddler sleep issues. I would like to say it gets better, but my oldest is still an irregular sleeper. (He’s 13) We eventually bought a tv and put in his room and taught him how to turn it on with a Thomas dvd already loaded in it just so I could keep some sanity. He sleeps a little better than he did, but I often hear him stirring at 4 am. If he could have his preffered sleep schedule, he would sleep in 4 hour jaunts twice a day. The Lord blessed me with 2 good sleepers after him, and that was some reprieve.
LOL about being an under-packer and using everyone else’s stuff – that’s me too.
I love that you share the good and no-so-good highlights. Otherwise, we might think of our family as being the only ones who can’t have a perfect, relaxing vacation.
Rehoboth Beach sounds great. I will definitely be adding it to our growing list of destinations for the cross-country roadtrip.
Hooray for more good things than not-so-good things! And for having a family you love and can vacation with — that’s gold.
We just got home from a long weekend at the beach, too. My 2 kids and I (I’m solo parenting for a few months) met some old friends and their two kids down on the Gulf of Mexico. Because it was a shorter time, we didn’t venture into town to any attractions, but did spend the second afternoon in the condo swimming pool instead of at the beach, and had some most excellent people watching from our balcony. Miraculously, all four children — aged 3-7, 11 months apart — got along like they’d known each other their entire lives, though they’d never met before. That was a super bonus, since my husband and I have been friends with the other couple for 12 years now (!), and I don’t know how we’d manage if the kids didn’t get along.
@Meghan- when kids get along on vacation it is great. I think vacations can be particularly good for that, especially if you’re all in one place together.
Fun to hear about your vacation highs/lows, appreciate how you keep it real. Also wanted to let you know that Feedly is being a stinker about your blog again. Time Strategy #3 and #8 didn’t show up for me, luckily I noticed the missing sequence numbers.
I just have to say how much your honesty about your toddler’s sleep helped me through some rough patches with our own child’s. She didn’t sleep through the night until 21 months and we had long stretches of up every 2-3 hours. You helped me keep it in perspective! Trying to keep that was we prep for baby #2 coming in just a few months. So thanks for the honesty!
@Amy- thanks. Kids are who they are, and while you can do some things to help, a child with lower sleep needs is not going to be one of those babies who goes down easily at 7 pm, wakes up at 7 am and takes perfect naps at the right time. My oldest child was low sleep needs and still is — he goes to bed later than I do many nights and wakes up on his own bright eyed and bushy tailed. My middle two kids need more sleep — they’re happier to go down and sleep later. So the toddler is just like the oldest one. I didn’t parent any of them differently. Same with food choices, same with interest in interacting with new people and trying new things, etc. Your new baby could be an excellent sleeper, but this time around you’ll know it’s nothing you did!
So glad you enjoyed our great children’s book section and our train table. Ladybug Girl is one of my favorite series!
We pride ourselves on not only being a great independent bookstore, but also a destination for customers who are looking for high-quality, unique gifts & toys. As a published author, you know how hard it is for a family-owned and operated bookstore to thrive in this era. If it were not for all the hand-picked gift items in the store, we would not be able to run a bookstore at the beach. We look forward to seeing you again soon!