This past spring, we took our first family trip. We rented our friend’s condo in Madeira Beach, Florida and had an awesome time. I think that the kids were at a perfect age for this kind of trip. Our son was almost 3.5 and our daughter almost 8 months old. Lucky for us, my lovely in-laws (Mami and Papi) joined us for the first week and flew down with us as well. I have to say that before leaving I was nervous about how our son was going to behave at the airport and how the flight was going to go with both kids. The good news is that they surprised us both and did very well. I don’t know about you but I sometimes worry about what “could” happen before something even happens. It is as though I am always trying to prepare for the worst case scenario but 9 times of out 10 the kids surprise me and I don’t have to. I guess this is something I have to work on ;).
As a kid, I had never been to Florida and grew up never really having a desire to go until our friends brought us down for a week over four years ago. After that first trip to Madeira (pre-kids), we were hooked. Madeira Beach sucked us into its beautiful weather and beaches. It is also just a short flight away from Ottawa which makes it even more appealing with two little ones.
We spent the two weeks exploring the area around our condo. Each day, after breakfast, we would pack our things and spend our entire mornings by the beach and our afternoons by the pool. Beach time was amazing. We literally spent hours playing in the ocean and sand. I don’t think that there is anything better for the soul than plain old playing and laughter. We built castles, buried our son (as per his request of course ;)), ate picnics on the beach and swam for hours. By the end of the morning, we were all covered in sand and literally had it everywhere. It was amazing!
This trip also allowed us to break free of our regular routines. By routines I mean meal routines, nap routines, outings etc. Rather than having our daughter nap in her crib in the mornings, and being stuck in the condo, she napped on the beach in her stroller. If she didn’t fall asleep, it was ok. She just ended up sleeping more in the afternoon. Also, half of our meals and snacks were on the go, by the beach or by the pool. We also took the kids out to a few restaurants for lunch and once for dinner. Ok. I need to be honest here. The lunches were great but we had to pack up a dinner and rush the kids home one evening. It wasn’t their faults though. I think we were getting too used to our new go with the flow lifestyle and thought that a dinner reservation at 630pm would turn out ok. Well, things didn’t end disastrously but the kids weren’t too interested and that was ok. We tried giving our son his iPad and our daughter all the toys in the world to play with but they were spent. In the end, we ended up taking our food home, put the kids down and enjoyed our French meal by candlelight at the condo.
One of the most memorable days of this trip was when one of our condo neighbours, D and J took us out on their boat. They have two young kids as well which was great for ours. I have to say that they were incredibly kind and generous. They took time out of their weekend to bring us to a breathtaking sandbar close to John’s Pass and I mean breathtaking. It was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I couldn’t believe that there were so many people at the sand bar and how organised and prepared everyone was. People brought volleyball nets, floating tables for food and drinks, their dogs, chairs etc. We spent the afternoon at the sandbar listening to music, watching the kids have a blast, people watching and just taking in the amazing view that the sandbar had to offer.
Some of my other favourite things about this trip are as follows:
- Seeing the kids so happy
- Watching our son fill his buckets with sand and water for hours
- Afternoon naps (these were fabulous and I didn’t feel guilty about them because I wasn’t home and didn’t feel compelled to keep busy)
- Touring around with the kids
- Enjoying relaxing evenings with Julien and some bubbly 😉
- Going with the flow
- Watching our daughter become more mobile – she started dragging herself around during this trip
- Beach yoga (this was the specific moment I fell in love with yoga)
Overall, this was an amazing trip. After spending two weeks on holiday, we were relaxed and ready to return home to enjoy spring in Ottawa. For those who haven’t been and who are considering going, I highly recommend a family trip to Madeira Beach, Florida.
Do you have any favourite spots in Florida? If so, I would love to hear about them!