People who say they need a vacation to recover from vacation may be cliche, but we are not wrong!
Our family vacation this year was spent with my sister and her family, and two of my brothers. We went to Orlando, FL, stayed at a resort with African animals in our inaccessible, fenced-off "backyard," swam in a cool pool with a super-fun water slide, and walked our feet off at Disney World which is no small feat with six children in tow.
But this post isn't just about all the fun we had there or how many pounds I lost from all the exercise. (I do not even know if I did lose any pounds; I just know that we stayed in a place with way too many mirrors and I'm all self-conscious about my curves now.)
You guys, it takes a lil bit of crazy to stand in long lines to ride short rides, get sunburned and overheated and dehydrated just to meet some cartoon celebrities, and do it all over, and over and over again for several days in a row. It takes a lot of crazy to say it was all fun and we'll do it again sometime.
Hi folks, I'm Crazy. Nice to meet ya!
Honestly, the best part of the trip was/is/will always be the family togetherness. And some insane rounds of the new board game Quelf.
Here's the kicker: Sometimes in vacation planning it's wise to look a bit further ahead and think about what there is to come home to.
I'm going to be completely straightforward here and let you in on a little, well-kept secret. (My kingdom for a sarcasm font!) The day after vacation- no, the week after vacation (at least!) is a whopper of a let-down. Everyone is tired; many are cranky. A fair amount of crying and yelling can be heard in these walls. The children have colds from either lack of sleep or ALL THE GERMS. There might be a bit of entitlement from a week of living the high life. There is most definitely a detox-the-sugar-monster period of time. And possibly worst of all, school is back!
And that's just the children. Whoa, baby. Mom and Dad have to be adults again, and who ever thinks THAT is fun! There are funny things like running out of money way too soon in spite of the careful budgeting because I forgot about the meat and milk orders and we ate out more than planned. Or the high stress situation created as a result of being renters at the mercy of a (later-proven faulty) CO alarm going off and being subject to the maintenance crew priority schedules. I might have had to make phone calls about a missing screen door and broken glass outside cutting my son’s bare foot. (It’s not bad; he just got a little nick.) We might have discovered that the playground has two broken swings out of four. We might have gotten some teenagers prank-knocking on our door. It’s also possible that the cupboards have run bare since nobody has had time or energy to shop yet. There might be some tiny voices complaining about lack of choices. I might have been cat-called on my way to the playground with the children.
All this to say, the little grievances added up quickly into a big spiral toward depression. The only thing between me and a bleak season was the graceful provision of loving words and actions from Josh and encouragement from my mom. I’m thankful, very thankful, for safe people in my life; people who can speak through the blight and the fog and shine the way back to peace.
Aaaaand, this is where I document the idea to be referred to for all future vacations:
Plan for the post-vacation funk. It will happen. It’s not that we’re bad people or persnickety ogres; it’s just that we’re human, and humans take time to adjust to different circumstances. I need this reminder so much, which is why it is going up on the blog.
So here are my tips for the next time:
1. Do everything in your power to leave behind a clean house so you can come home to one. I can’t even begin to stress how necessary to sanity survival this tip is. Make sure the family is in on it and knows there is going to be a clean-up day shortly before the trip.
2. Plan some simple events/activities to look forward to upon returning. A little excitement tucked into the monotony of everyday will help ease the transition back to “normal.” We were lucky this time: one of my cousins was in Chicago on a business trip and came over one evening. It was a good time in spite of being tired and not having much food around.
3. Incorporate lots of playtime in between school subjects for the kids. They need an easy transition, too. Bonus tip: If you bring home toys or other souvenirs, include them in some educational play-pretend. (It’s much easier to help Kaitlin practice writing with some rescue scenarios involving secret messages and light sabers.)
4. For the kids: Have a new bottle of bubble bath waiting (for the kids, of course, am I right?) I’ve never had a kid stay bored and crabby once they step into the warm, sudsy water. Bath toys are a plus.
5. For the mama: Have a new, very cheerful colored bottle of nail polish waiting to splash onto your eager toes. (Did I mention before how happy painting my toenails makes me? It may sound silly, but the little things add up, good or bad. Always be intentional about seeking out the good.)
6. Take a family walk every day the weather permits. It’s much gentler on everyone to walk off frustration outside than let it simmer and stew inside the house.
7. Keep 3 or 4 easy-fix meals in the freezer. It’s easier to get back into the swing of things if you don’t feel you have to immediately multitask at maximum potential.
8. Revisit some of the fun things you did on vacation. Look at photos together. Play the games you brought. (Angry Birds card game, Uno, Beat the Parents: Disney version.)
9. Go easy on social media. Don’t try to catch up all at once. That blog post can wait until the weekend. Twitter rants can hold their horses. That gazillionth debate on facebook does not have to be refuted, mocked, or shared- disengage, Jamie. Dis.En.Gage.
10. A certain small individual who is still in diapers WILL hold it all in on long car trips. Be ready for several blowouts. Just sayin’. ;)