Hangover from Fun
Once, when lamenting how vacations with children are not what they used to be, my wise friend said, “When you travel with kids, it’s not a vacation, it’s a trip.”
Isn’t that so true? I love going away with my children, and I’ll often take them up north by myself when Schizz is working. It’s wonderful to have a change of scenery and make memories together. That said, I never leave feeling rested. And let’s talk about those three days post-vacation. In our house, we call it The Hangover from Fun.
What is the Hangover from Fun?
The Hangover from Fun is what happens to children in the hours and days following a fun event. You no sooner walk through those doors when the tears and drama begin.
It doesn’t matter if you had a magical vacation during which the stars aligned and all of your children ate, slept, and behaved well the entire time or if you had one of those pull-your-hair-out vacations where no one sleeps, kids fight, and headaches occur.
The Hangover from Fun happens regardless.
I used to think that The Hangover from Fun was just a phase. I attributed it to the fact that I had babies, or that I was pregnant again, or because I was still up nursing at night, or because the kids were so young and still needed naps. I now have a 7-year-old, 5.5-year-old, and almost 4-year-old and that dreaded Hangover from Fun “phase” has yet to pass.
Does the Hangover from Fun happen only after vacations?
Nope! The Hangover from Fun is not limited to vacations. No sir-ee! The Hangover from Fun happens after every major holiday, and following every out-of-town visitor’s departure. It can even happen on… CHRISTMAS MORNING.
Can the Hangover from Fun ever happen while on vacation?
Sometimes, if you have an extended vacation, and especially if you’ve been having a super-fun summer, The Hangover from Fun can appear prematurely, while you are still on vacation.
Here are some photos from our most recent vacation to Cape Cod, to visit our beloved Nana and Papa. You can see clearly that The Hangover from Fun came early!
Will the Hangover from Fun ever go away?
Folks, I do not know. We are over seven years into this parenting gig and The Hangover from Fun has not relented. It remains, tried and true, just waiting for us to walk through those doors.
The Hangover from Fun is the reason why, when people ask me if we are planning a Disney trip in the future, I burst out laughing like a raging lunatic. You could not pay me to take these crabalicious little people to Disney and back. Not unless you’re sending me elsewhere post, preferably Kauai, so that I can avoid what is sure to be an EPIC Hangover from Fun.
What Can I do about the Hangover from Fun?
I’m right there in the trenches with you, mamas. Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to combat this dreaded buzz kill:
- Plan for it. If you expect it, you’ll be less frazzled by it.
- Put those kids to bed early each night the week of your homecoming. Put yourself to bed early that first week, too. You’ll need all the help you can get.
- Have a sense of humor. The vacation was fun, wasn’t it? Focus on that and then laugh about the rest. Take in-the-moment photos of your children in the throes of Hangover from Fun (see above) and text them to your husband while he is at work, complete with humorous captions. This serves as not only as a form of comedic relief, but also as a warning: both that he’s going to walk into a house full of crabby kiddos, and also that he should be a little bit nicer than usual to the woman who has been dealing with it all day long.
- Plan an activity. My children love arts and crafts and they serve as a great distraction. Do you know what I do? When the mailman delivers those precious Kiwi and Tinker Crates, I tuck them away for a rainy or crabby day. Music is also helpful in these situations. I usually up our allotted Kenny Hour during that first week back, if only for my own sanity.
- If things look grim, put in a movie, serve them cereal for dinner, and pour a glass of wine. This too shall pass!
Now, it’s YOUR turn. Do your children experience a Hangover from Fun? What strategies have worked to alleviate the Hangover in your home? Share here so that all those moms-in-need-of-vacations can benefit!
One of mine will get such a hangover from screen time! We’re talking watching one Disney-length movie, so nothing excessive.
What works best for me is routines and rules. The more predictable things are for my kids, the less crabby they act. That includes rules. It totally sucks, but if I come down like a ton of bricks at the first sign of attitude I usually get a LOT less. They know they can’t push. They have to use their words and poor behavior has consequences… even if they are tired/hungry/out-of-sorts. Bad behavior is not tolerated.
So, I basically remind them of the rules, tell them of any exceptions (Mommy has to unpack so if you can be well behaved/set the table/whatever, you can have a gumdrop/story/whatever), and prepare for things to take much longer than normal anyway.
Awesome post and as always, you have managed to infuse your sense of humor into situations that many would not find anything funny about. I admire your ability to do this!
Great post! Now I have a name for what she is going thru when overwhelmed. I guess I don’t have much to add when it comes to dealing with the hangover except get them to sleep. When she is so overwhelmed I gently but firmly hold her in my arms singing softly (even though she is screaming) until she falls asleep. One such time she then slept 14 hours straight. We do try a few things to help prevent it. I keep fidgets in the car and stretchy bands that she can use her muscles with. We we make sure she gets plenty of food and drink. We talk about what to expect and how things will look. When is anxiety is reduced, it seems to help not wear her out as bad, therefore, lessening the hangover part.
Oh my gracious, yes. Hangover from Fun is a totally real thing! I’ve got kids all the way up to adults, and it does EVENTUALLY end but it’s pretty much after they move out and grow up. 😉 And the Disney thing: yup. That’s why we have never gone and have no plans to do so, even though that makes us seem crazy to most of our friends!
I totally agree, Jamie!
We just got back from an 8 day trip and our son had hangover fun daily! He did have loads of fun but at the same time was completely out of sorts. It made the vacation stressful for everyone. We got through and are now recovering back at home 🙂
I hope you’ve recovered, Erin!
My daughter (6 years old) gets this after being with her father for a week or weekend!! It’s always go, go, go and fun, fun, fun with him and she comes home and melts down! Now I have a name for it!! Thanks!!
We’ve had the best success with the movie and wine technique. Fortunately, or not, most of our fun hangovers happen in the middle of the night. We don’t have to deal with crabby kids during the day, but we do have to work with them waking from a deep sleep hollering.
We definitely experience this! We spend a week on the Cape each summer with friends. It’s fun but intense. Last year we decided to stay longer to spend time with my parents who live there in the summer. Big mistake! My then 9 year old had one of his most epic meltdowns to date (he has SPD) on the beach.
This year we went right home and kept things low-key and did our best for early bedtimes. He still had a bit of difficulty but it passed quickly. His 6 year old sister handles it a little better.
Great article. Thanks 🙂