Back to life! Back to reality! That late 80’s song by Soul II Soul is the anthem that rings through my ears as vacation comes to an end and life as normal will soon resume. But I think to myself, why does this vacation lifestyle have to end just because we’re going home?
We had the good fortune of going on several family trips this year. (Trip=vacation with kids.) Some were more relaxing than others (Disney World vs. Mountain retreat) but nonetheless all were filled will new special memories and bonding family time. Now, I have three kids under five. But somehow, someway I’ve managed to actually get refreshment and renewal from our family getaways. I noticed this last spring during a Florida trip. I was basically doing most of the same things there as I do as a full-time mom at home. Cooking, cleaning, lots of diaper changes, baths, grocery runs but with the occasional beach outing or dip in the pool. However, I could just feel an unnatural sense of calmness and relaxation—even while doing my normal daily tasks. Fast forward to this summer when my family visited Lake Placid, NY. We were in a hotel room (all five of us!) for a six-day getaway. Despite the close quarters, missed naps and late bedtimes that laid-back vacation feeling of peace and relaxation kicked in yet again. This time I took notice and dug a little deeper. What was the culprit behind my laid back, vacation spirit? I took a mental note and determined a few ways to keep that vacation state of mind going after we’ve returned home.
Break the rules
This is a hard one for me. Although I typically live my life pretty unplanned and often fly by the seat of my pants, when it comes to routines (especially sleep times) you better believe I’m sticking to them. I spend the majority of the day alone caring for my children and I always fear meltdowns or missed naps if I deviate from the schedule. However, when I do break the rules on occasion, I’m usually pleasantly surprised with how well the kids handle it. This is not only true when traveling but also at home. Switching up our normal sleeping arrangements, evening routine, pushing nap times and even letting the kids eat more sugar than normal usually turns out ok. If not, bedtime will surely come and all will be right again.
This goes hand in hand with my last point, but it’s worth noting. On vacation, I actually surprised myself a couple of times when I said yes to things I don’t typically allow. Yes to a special drink at dinner (Shirley Temples are coveted in my family). Yes to collecting treasures of twigs, leaves and rocks on our nature hike and actually letting my kids bring them inside. Yes to baking cookies at 8 am. Yes to mini golf under the stars way after bedtime. It’s actually pretty fun to say yes and see the shocked response of my children when I allow something off the cuff.
Indulge then get on track
Something feels right about having a dessert on vacation, but ice cream on a random Tuesday at home brings guilt. Just like on a trip, it’s easy to participate in atypical indulgences but get back in line, why not let this carry over to home life? Go for the latte over the black coffee. Allow myself time to relax on the couch and let the messy living room go. Let my kids watch a movie first thing and have a slow morning. A little bit of indulgence can go a long way to give a mental boost regardless of location.
In my experience, the biggest difference from my vacation life to home life is in my attitude. Perhaps I’m doing the same daily tasks regardless of where I am, but often the new scenery brings a new, light and positive attitude. Often this uplifting outlook is a result of gratitude in appreciation for the opportunity to travel and the great blessing of my family. Regardless of where I am, when I stop and look around and take inventory of all the goodness that fills my life it’s easy to adjust my attitude and take time to enjoy. After all, on vacation or at home, I can choose how I want to live