Vacation is always something I long for and love but of course, it is always way too short – just like every weekend. We just got back from the Dominican Republic and had a great time! I wouldn’t say it was a relaxing trip since my husband and I were constantly running after Emma but she had a blast, and so did we.

Our mornings consisted of me waking up early and trying to get everyone ready to go grab breakfast and start the day (yes, that includes my husband). It is incredible how my body clock is already programmed to wake up by 7:30 a.m. no matter how tired I am, and as Mommyhood will have it, I can never go back to sleep. The hotel offered a very good selection of food for breakfast, which made Emma and I very happy campers since breakfast is our favorite meal. However, I pretty much had to gulp my meal every morning as Emma was immediately antsy once she was done eating and constantly insisted “It is time to go!”

We bought a kids float for Emma so she was very excited to “swim” by herself in the pool. She loved us pushing her around and having us pretend we were going to get her. She also loved going to the Beach and building castles, although what she loved most was destroying them. She was a little afraid of the ocean because of the waves and would only be in the water for a very limited amount of time so we spent most of our time in the sand and pool.

At night, the hotel always had shows and then played some music. Every single night Emma managed to stay up until midnight – she would not want to miss a show and when it was over would take us up to the stage to dance with her. It is amazing how kids have no inhibitions when it comes to doing things they want to do – Emma is extremely shy when she encounters other people, but apparently not when it comes to dancing…

On Saturday we decided to take her on an excursion to “Oceanworld” where she was able to touch, hug and kiss a dolphin. At first she was a little frightened, but frankly, that is how she always is whenever she tries something new. Regardless, she did it – at her own will – and even fed the dolphin with my help. We also saw some bird, sea-lion and shark shows. She liked them so much that she is still talking about them. I know that I could have taken her to see some bugs under a rock and she would have been thrilled, but I am glad I took advantage of this opportunity as it was also my first time interacting with a dolphin. Since she will likely forget this experience, we purchased the video.

On this trip I was also determined to get some color so I could stop looking like a zombie on a daily basis. After spending most of the trip in the sun and having applied a lot of suntan lotion, I can happily report that I was able to get a base color to start off this summer. Inevitably, I still look tired – because I am – but the tan helps a bit.

Tips for vacationing with a toddler –

1. Carry coloring pencils/pens, books and flash cards to entertain your toddler. Emma spent a good amount of time on the plane coloring in her little notebook.
2. Download their favorite movie on your phone and/or computer. This saved us from a lot of potential disasters. Yes, it made me feel a little bad to use it as a gateway to keep her entertained but it helped a lot when she was cranky and we had to get our luggage, pass customs, etc… In all honestly, I think you should download 2 movies or a couple of episodes that can keep your child entertained. It will make certain things less stressful.
3. Always carry an extra pair on undies and/or dry bathing suit to change your toddler into after they leave the pool/beach as they will likely fall asleep on the way to the room.
4. Constantly keep them hydrated. Emma drank tons of water.
5. Continuously put sunscreen on your child as their skin is very sensitive. I used an entire bottle on Emma for the duration of the trip (5 days).
6. Give up on the fact that your toddler will go to sleep at their usual time. Even though you are vacationing, so is your child, and that means that they will likely sleep less as they don’t want to miss a thing. I can’t tell you how many times we took the stroller with us and didn’t use it because Emma would refuse to go to sleep. She outlasted us every night. Nonetheless, she did take a nap every day and I took full advantage of it and slept along with her.
7. Find something that gets their attention and use it when they refuse to do certain things -A couple of times we saw lizards roaming around on the trees so whenever we needed Emma to do something and she wasn’t cooperating, we would tell her there was a lizard and that we had to go look for it. She would fall for it every time, although I know that past a week it would get old; so be creative.

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