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We just got back last week from our family trip to Maine, and it was such a wonderful time! For many reasons. I’ll share some things we did, and places we loved later in this post, but one of the greatest parts of the trip this time around was that the focus was purely on spending time together and regenerating our energy. I was feeling so burnt out when we left that I didn’t know what the time away would feel like. It was the first time this entire year that I put an away message on my work email and took some time completely off. Ian had been working nonstop the past few months, too, and I know that the kids were feeling our constant stressed-out energy and were also in need of some time with all five of us connected and present.
We purposefully didn’t make ANY plans in advance for the week away and decided to just let the pace and vibe of the trip dictate what we did every day. I will say that this was probably the most “chill” trip we’ve ever had in Bar Harbor, but it was also one of the best because it was exactly what we needed. It took me nearly the entire week to decompress from my hustle energy and to be able to actually sit down and do nothing without feeling guilty that I wasn’t completing some task at that very moment. It taught me so much about having to slow down my pace a bit once we returned home, and to carve out some time for me on a regular basis that has nothing to do with work!
Ian remarked something interesting while we were in Maine that stuck with me, and became kind of the hallmark of the trip in a way. He said that one of the more stressful things about parenting 3 kids is that he never feels like there’s enough time to connect one on one with each kid unless we’re on vacation. At the same time, vacation is also the time when we feel so much pressure to fill our own cups, to restore the energy in our romantic relationships, and to come back feeling refreshed. But there’s not enough time to do all of that, of course! When we’re home, the “before work” hours and the “after work hours”, and even the weekends (with all their activities and social events) just don’t add up to the amount of time that you really need to make sure you’re getting in significant time touching base with the kids and spending that quality time.
I completely agree, and I think as time has gone on, and Mateo has become more of a little person and not a baby, this is the most stressful thing about having 3 children. I do feel as though there just aren’t hours in the day to be continuously learning my kids as deeply as I’d like to…while also creating time to deeply connect with myself…and then to add a partnership or marriage on top of that?! It’s a LOT. And having all of that is obviously something you need to let go of a little bit when you get into the higher numbers of kids, but it was something we spent a lot of time talking about at night after the kids went to bed.
Something kind of hilarious that I will share about the trip before I get into our favorite things is that Mateo STILL WON’T HIKE. And by hilarious, I mean completely exasperating, of course. I expected him to be really into the hiking this year, but he would immediately demand to be held and then wouldn’t let us put him down the entire time. I said to Ian that I remembered he was so much better last year…but then I looked at photos from our trip last summer and I was also carrying him in most of those. LOL. Jokes on me, I guess! He also refused to put a life vest or floatie on 90% of the time, so we couldn’t really take him out in the kayak or on the paddleboard, either. Sigh. I’m hoping by next summer we’re out of our stubborn toddler phase a little bit, and we can be a tad more adventurous! I did end up getting a babysitter for a few hours one afternoon so that Ian and I could take the two big kids on an epic hike, and it was SO fun to do that with them. I can’t wait until all 3 kids can come up the mountains with us! Acadia National Park is just so stunning, and I feel super grateful that my kids have the chance to experience even a small bit of it year after year.
This year, we went into Bar Harbor for a few hours one day to eat, shop a bit, and check out the Fire Station– but we mostly explored other areas this year and had a blast doing it! I’m going to break down some of our favorite things we did in the different towns we love.
- Breakfast at Cafe This Way: we’ve been coming here for years, and it’s my favorite breakfast in town. The kids always get chocolate chip pancakes and I LOVE the corn beef hash!
- Visit The Fire Station! The firemen at the Bar Harbor Fire Department are so kind and gave us a full tour. They even had hats! The station itself is gorgeous and a very cool part of the town’s history
- Bar Island: We love crossing over to Bar Island during low tide, checking out all the amazing tide pools, and exploring the little island itself.
- The Barnacle Pub & Oyster Bar: This place is FANTASTIC. We tried it for the first time this summer. It serves great drinks and 2 foods: delicious bavarian pretzels and Bar Harbor Blonde Oysters! We took the two big kids on a date here and absolutely fell for it.
MOUNT DESERT ISLAND
- Brrrr Harbor: This spot is new and so yummy! It has Hawaiian-style shave ice with really yummy flavors, plus totally delicious coffee drinks!
- Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show: This show was so fun, and entertaining! It was not too long, and all of us loved it. Such a great idea when the weather isn’t perfect, too, as the show is Rain Or Shine!
- Mount Desserts Pie: The yummiest blueberry and strawberry rhubarb homemade pies
- Salt Shop: delicious ice cream and baked goods!
- Hearth & Harbor: a great little market with pizza and sandwiches to go! We ate in the town green.
- Under The Dogwood Tree: cute little boutique with awesome gifts and clothing for kids and adults alike!
- Wonderland Hike: This was a very kid-friendly and absolutely stunning hike along a sandy path to the Maine coastline. So many tide pools to explore and a breathtaking view
- Charlotte Rhoades Garden & Butterfly Park: this park is always a must for us. It’s gorgeous and the kids love finding the butterflies and caterpillars!
- Carroll Family Homestead: this preserved homestead is part of Acadia National park, and it was incredible to learn about the Carroll family and get to see how people lived in that area around the turn of the century! They did an amazing job with the preservation and teaching techniques there!
- Nor’Easter Pound & Market: This was a really delicious and casual spot to grab dinner with the family. They do lobster dinners but also lots of other fresh options!
Let me know if you have any other specific questions! I already can’t wait to return next summer.