I do it every time. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. We pick the place. We plan the logistics of travel routes. We secure reservations. Then begins the countdown. The countdown of the inevitable emotional breakdown because no one, not even yours truly, is living up to the unrealistic expectations I set for Andrews Family Vacation (insert year).

It starts innocently enough with Google.

After the usual searches: “How to lose 10-15 pounds in three weeks” or “Bathing suits that make you look 10-15 slimmer,” I start the real planning.

“Family activities-Wrightsville Beach”

Then pops up a list of events suitable for parents and their 21-month-old, not 21-year-old.

I try a new search.

“Fun activities to do at the beach with adults.”

Top 10 games to play:

1. Spike ball

2. Tug of War

3. Beach Limbo

Too aggressive. Clearly Google needs more direction.

“Fun activities at the beach that doesn’t involve a lot of activity-for adults”

Top 5 nude beaches.

I give up on Google then call the chamber of commerce of our destination to get some tips. That’s where I got the 4-1-1.

1. Hot air balloon ride

2. Nature hike

3. Cheese making class

A simple list of everything that is going to make this vacation the best vacation of all Andrews Family Vacations. The vacation that my boys will remember and talk about for years to come. Not like last time when we went deep sea fishing. Deep sea fishing that lasted approximately 45 minutes before I got sick and we had to go back to shore.

When it was time to reserve the hot air balloon ride, I learned that launch time is 6.

That’s 6 a.m.

Not a regular 6 a.m.

Vacation 6 a.m.

It’s hard enough waking them so we can leave for vacation. I can’t imagine the complaints I’ll get for a 5:15 a.m. wake up call on vacation. That will set off a series of events where my mood begins with a gentle Glenda the Good Witch, “Guys. It’s time to wake up. I’m making coffee. This is going to be so much fun.” And ends with a maniacal Wicked Witch of the West, “THIS IS THE LAST TIME I’LL PLAN ANYTHING FOR YOU INGRATES.”

I don’t want this to be another one of those trips. Where what stands out most to them is what day the vein on my forehead that pops out when I’m angry and trying to “make happy family memories, damn it!”

I skipped to the nature walk.

“A rigorous, 7-mile hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains sure to bring out the competitive side of everyone in the family.”

I checked the weather map for temp info on the day of the planned hike. 95 degrees and 97% humidity.

I didn’t even consider the cheesemaking class. I know what would happen. Everyone will agree that we will spend five hours that Tuesday afternoon learning the process of making cheese. Only, when the time comes, they start whining and tell me they could care less about cheesemaking. They don’t care where cheese comes from. They only care if it’s in the fridge when it comes time to make a sandwich.

I could do all of this, again. Or maybe this would be the year I change my behavior. Change my expectation of what a fun family vacation is supposed to look like. Stop looking at photos of my friend’s family vacation pics with envy and just let the memories happen without a step-by-step pre-planned agenda for the day. So, that’s what I did.

This go round I didn’t plan anything. NOTHING. I didn’t even purchase new clothes for any of us for the trip. On day 1 and 2, Jay and I let the boys sleep in while we sipped coffee and watched the Blue Ridge Mountains come in and out of focus behind fog that hangs over the range. On day 3-5, we waited for the boys to wake up before walking to the beach. After all, we needed someone to pull the wagon and carry the bags that contained snacks, Frisbees, noodles, and goggles. I didn’t complain that they were wasting the best part of the day sleeping. I didn’t keep my mind in a constant state of panic that we weren’t making enough family memories. Instead, I went into this year’s family trip with zero expectation. None. Nada.

As it turns out, you don’t have to lose your mind on a family vacation. You can save that for the trip back home.

Telling Tales is written by Wilson County’s Becky Andrews and Angel Kane. This column is Becky’s.

Telling Tales is written by Wilson County's Becky Andrews and Angel Kane. This column is Becky's.

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