There is always a sense after a family vacation that we, the parents, actually need a vacation of our own to recover from the previous one. Thankfully, we've gotten more seasoned at travelling with JED and JED have become older, so it is a little bit easier. There is less of a compulsion to drop them off at an orphanage and jet off to the Maldives.
But we also do try to make it a point to make it easier on ourselves.
1. We rent self-service apartments or houses.
This meant we didn't have to bring enough clothes to last the duration of our vacation. Travelling light becomes important especially when flights land at odd hours and we have to wrestle sleeping children as well as luggage and car seats [thankfully, that (car seats) should stop being a problem soon!]
It also meant we were able to cook and not need to subject ourselves to ridiculously priced restaurant food. Plus the nutrition conscious nut in me felt better knowing what JED actually put away into their bodies. People find this troublesome and it could be. But it's was much cheaper, we didn't have to wrestle with cranky children back into the car and we didn't have to worry about them making a scene in a public place; all of which could have been even more stress inducing.
It wasn't just about making the older two look after Muffin. It was about everyone looking after everyone else. When they crossed the road, they had to be holding onto someone else's hand. If they ran off, they had to look back to see where everyone else was. If someone fell, they had to help pick the child up and someone needed to come and tell us. That meant, everyone had to keep an eye out on everyone else. Even Muffin knew to look out for his siblings and his friends and they were often a gaggle of wandering children, the operative term here being 'gaggle'. While not fool-proof, it meant that we didn't have to worry as much about where everyone was at any given time, even if we were in a supermarket.
At this age, the favourite things for JED to do were to go to the beach or the playground. So we found playgrounds for them. If in Perth and you are headed south, head to Donnybrook, the apple capital of Western Australia. It's home to the Donnybrook Apple Fun Park, the biggest free playground in Australia. All the kids loved it and we went back 3 days in a row and they never tired of it. Because we were on vacation and regular Aussie school terms were still in session, the playgrounds were empty. They had the run of the place and keeping an eye out for them was relatively easy.