Vacations these days often seem like more work then they are fun. People spend half a year saving, 3 months planning, 2 weeks packing and then a week of fighting only to come home and feel like you need another vacation.
What’s the point in a vacation when you come home feeling like you need another one?
Here is a suggestion: Do not plan your family vacation. Wait, what? Yeah — that is a hard one for me too. I am a Type-A, OCD, control freak saved by grace so all those tendencies are constantly creeping up out of me. And I love vacations! As much as I keep everyday life fairly simple, I love a good vacation. Why would I stop planning the next one?
When we place so much pressure on ourselves and then on others (especially our family) we are only setting ourselves up for failure. Family vacations or even romantic getaways are not immune to this cycle of behavior. Human nature is to appreciate “having something to look forward to.” With that comes a lot of time of looking forward and then more likeliness of unmet expectations or disappointment.
Hopefully the point of a vacation is to get a break, gain new perspective, feel refreshed and connect with your loved ones. It is completely possible to do that without ending up exhausted, overworked, broke and disappointed.
1. Keep Your Eyes Open for An Everyday Vacation
Our day to day lives are often so full we feel the need for a vacation. I am totally guilty of this. With a lot of small children, the day in and day out can get monotonous. I am a homeschooling Mom and constantly having to mix things up so that even I don’t get bored. I definitely enjoy “getting away” and seeing new things. But since we aren’t in the season of long and fancy vacations, our family looks for everyday vacations. What can we do for the next 2-4 hours to enjoy each other? We purposely don’t talk about about house maintenance, work, in-laws, or how busy next week is going to be. We get off our phones and into each other. This can happen almost anywhere as long as you are intentional about it. Intentionality is key. Keeping your eyes open for everyday vacations means seizing opportunities for connectedness, enjoying common interests as a family and maximizing your time so you face the next day rested.
2. Be Realistic
What type of vacation would allow your family to thrive not just survive? What are your capabilities and limitations? What season of life are you in? Where can you go to best match your desired outcome and your family’s capacity? The idea of a dreamy Bahama vacation sounds gorgeous…in theory. I love the beach, I love pina~coladas and I love blue skies. But is that a realistic idea when my kids are ages 7, 5, 3, 2, 1 & 2 months? Nope! Too many suitcases, too much traveling, and sand everywhere. Certain types of vacations would be more of a burden than rest for our family. Sure hubby and I could maybe go without them — but even then, the reality is simply that is not our season of life right now. It doesn’t mean we will never go to the Bahamas, just not this year for our family vacation. What type of vacation is realistic for your family?
3. Change Your Perspective
Just because you see people flying off to Mexico all the time, it doesn’t mean that is the only place where vacations happen. Lowering your expectations of “the perfect vacation” and aiming more for the “why” and not the “what” changes everything. You can accomplish the purpose of a vacation by going out into your backyard, but you just have to change your perspective. Our kids are low maintenance and they are young. Staying the night at a friend’s house as a family would be a vacation for them. Setting up the tent in the backyard is an easy win. Consider evaluating your perspective on the week long excursion. Maybe shorter and more periodic getaways are more sustainable for your family. Day trips can be a great way to recharge as well if you don’t overcommit yourself. We often get subconsciously competitive with our social media access these days. It may also be helpful to take a quick moment to get on the same page with your family about why you want a vacation.
The perfect vacation presented itself last weekend when a friend said “I’m leaving my house open for you, come get a vacation.” I hesitated, thought about our responsibilities at home and all the things we needed to do that weekend. But then I dug a little deeper and thought “This is the perfect vacation. I don’t have to plan or pack anything, I just have to be willing to go.” We cut the grass, threw some clothes in the car and hit the road. I almost messed it up by trying to include too many activities and plan the next thing. However, my family was gracious and we simply relaxed in a home away from home. It was just what we all needed — simple, unplanned and perfect for our family.