Call in the troops. This is a "family" trip you're taking, so why are you the only one planning it? Divide responsibilities between family members, taking into consideration everyone's capabilities. Even young children can pack their own belongings if they have a list. Assign older children to use the computer for scouting deals or attractions in the area. Keep all important telephone numbers together so that someone else can confirm airline, hotel, dinner, and show reservations; make sure each reservation gets checked off once it is confirmed. Everyone should also have their own daily checklist they can mark off until the day you leave.
Remind your children (and husband) beforehand that this is a vacation from home, not from helping. Tell them in advance that you'll require help cleaning out the car, keeping your temporary residence tidy, and keeping an eye on younger children.
Become the master. Why write the packing list or other instructions over and over again? If you're like most families, the vacation basics don't change from year to year. Save a master copy of all lists on the computer and refer to each trip in the title. The packing list changes only slightly, and you can have separate sections for items you bring on specific types of trips. Also, keep a list of things to do before you leave, so you'll never have to remember to turn off the lights, water the plants, hold newspaper or mail service, etc. Just print off the master copy, black out any unnecessary items, and keep a section entitled "other" for any additions.
Schedule some "alone" time. This can work two ways while you're away. First, plan an afternoon, or even just a few hours, doing something just for you. There may be a great spa or a spin class offered in your hotel. Don't feel guilty taking some time to re-energize yourself so you have more to give during the rest of your trip.
You can also plan for a quiet evening out with just your husband. If your children are older, you should feel comfortable leaving them with some snacks and a movie (and strict rules!) for a few hours. When you have young kids, having a sitter may be the only way to try out that restaurant you've heard so much about. But what if you couldn't convince Grandma or your niece to come along? Many hotels and condos will recommend babysitting services, and there are numerous Internet sites that offer professional babysitters. Still, many moms feel more comfortable using the "Mormon Grapevine." Ask around in your ward for families that have lived in or know someone in the area you're traveling to. They might refer you to someone who can help.
Think inclusive. The up-front cost of an all-inclusive resort may seem staggering at first, but when you consider that all meals and other perks are included, it can really save you some headaches. Just think - you won't be tempted to try and cook in your kitchenette, freeing you from grocery shopping and preparing and cleaning up meals. You'll have access to bikes, boogie boards, and other equipment. Childcare and supervised kids' activities are usually available as well. By the time you've taken advantage of all that's being offered, it can be well worth it.
If you can't stomach the expense of a posh resort, ask for a list of amenities at your destination. Many hotels and condos offer the use of strollers, cribs, high chairs, and beach supplies, as well as some kids' activities.
Maid to order. If you're like most moms, you feel guilty leaving a messy hotel room for the maid to clean. But just remember, this is part of what you're paying for, and while you don't want anyone thinking that a rock star had a wild party in your room the night before, unmade beds and towels on the floor are to be expected. Teach your children to be conscientious of both the maid's time and the hotel's property, but then enjoy having someone come in and clean up after you.
Relax. In the end, nothing ever goes completely as planned. But don't think that your trip's success or failure depends only on you. Give plenty of praise when others make an effort to help, and don't be surprised when you walk into the bathroom and find wet swimsuits all over the floor. If you expect that life will happen, you may find that when you get home, you won't need a vacation from your vacation.