5 Reasons Road Trips With Grandparents Are Better Than Sleepaway Camp

Summer break is here, and it is kicking my ass. My husband and I are notoriously poor planners when it comes to dealing with our kid’s extended time off from school. Somehow, I always forget how stressful it is to meet deadlines in my home office with small kids running around, and he always forgets how bitchy I get during long stretches of time without a break. Combine those two factors, and BOOM! We have an epic fail.


Robbie works very long hours, which means the lion’s share of childcare falls to me. During the school year, it’s obviously a non-issue. I work during school hours and click into mom mode when I pick them up in the afternoons. But damn, summer break is like hard core parenting boot camp – and I didn’t show up this year with adequate supplies.

“It will be fine!” I announced breezily to my horrified girlfriends when we discussed what our kids would be doing over the summer. They have kids on the autism spectrum like I do, and clearly knew better than I, because all of theirs were signed up early in various types of camps.

I was in for a rude awakening. I mean, we all know how this story ends: it would not be fine. I would not be fine. The word “fine” does not factor into any situation involving three children, me, and lack of structure. My friends knew it, and deep down, I knew it too, but it was too late to cough up the amount of money necessary to enroll three kids in camp. We were committed and it was happening.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law made a promise to my oldest that if he got straight A’s in 5th grade that she would take him on a road trip to Universal Studios. So, while other people’s children were readying for sleepaway camp, I was throwing random clothing into a bag and hoping for the best. All told, they were gone for almost a week and he had the best time EVER. Here’s why going on a road trip with a grandparent is better than sleepaway camp:

  1. No supplies are necessary. What I mean by that is, I didn’t have to rush out to a sporting goods store at the last minute to get a sleeping bag, snacks, or bug repellent. In fact, I didn’t have to rush out and buy ANYTHING, because my mother-in-law is basically the next best thing to an actual parent and she can be trusted to make sure he has everything he needs, which brings me to my next point:
  2. Grandparents are the most fun road trippers. They make a lot of pit stops. They love knick knacks. Souvenirs and candy are some of their most favorite things, and they’re always in the mood for ice cream. Grandparents listen to kid-safe music (mostly country and oldies) and mostly, in stark contrast to this, I fucking loathe road trips with my kids.
  3. No one cares about bedtime. There was no “lights out” or blaring bullhorn in the early morning hours to wake him up. My kid was allowed to stay up until he literally could not keep his eyes open, and sleep until 11:00 a.m. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. (I would want no part of any of that.)
  4. They stayed in a condo with access to more than one swimming pool and unlimited wi-fi. Instead of waking up with a sleeping bag twisted around his body, my son was in a cushier bedroom than the one he has at home.
  5. Grandparents are chill. They’re too tired to make a fuss over much, and their hearing isn’t as good as it once was, so things don’t grate on their nerves as much as, say, they do on mine.

My takeaway is this: next summer, we will make better plans for our children – which may or may not include some road trips with extended family members.

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