When I was a kid I never thought much about what my parents might be going through on vacation. For us kids, the activities that we didn't normally do in Florida was the reason to be on vacation in the first place. Horseback riding, new and exciting theme parks, old historic towns, whatever the distraction was, we wanted to get out there and do stuff in these new places. Until I became a parent, it never dawned on me that there was a pretty high chance that my parents probably wanted to have the occasional day or even moment to just relax and unwind. I hope they found time for that.
I think this idea is really put to the test when you go on vacation with an at-home parent. I have this theory. I think one of the main reasons people go on vacation is to get away from their stressful jobs. A very valid reason to want a break from the real world. So what then, for the at-home parents? You can't very well take a vacation from your job if your entire company is coming on vacation with you. That's where some real issues can sneak their way into the trip.
I'll use myself as the example, and who knows, maybe I'm the only guilty party in the entire world. Perhaps that makes me seem dangerous and attractive, *wink*.
When we took our big trip to Florida I was very involved with the kids. There was no way to avoid it. In fact the only time it was an issue was at night when we were trying to get the kids to bed after a long day of driving when all they wanted to do was run around. I can't fault them for that, but it is hard to find the will to get up and keep driving when you haven't had enough sleep. Still, overall, our teamwork is what ultimately got us through the trip and allowed us to even have some fun here and there.
The staycation was a different story, and here's where I admit to the world (I assume you've all shared the blog with the entire world) that I was a bit of a selfish jerkface about things. At times. I explained in some part before that the decision to have the staycation was based on the idea that soon I'll be taking on a third child during the day (for a period of time) to help out some friends. In that way I'm a pretty amazing friend. So Melissa had the fantastical idea to take a week off and have some family time before we're just too busy. As our break progressed I would catch myself shutting down and getting a little too comfy. Of course this means that while I'm sitting there with the same level of brain function as any of the Kardashians, Melissa is placed in the position of lone person in charge of the kids. This is a real test for some people, and I wanted to give some perspective on things for people based on mistakes I feel I've made.
First off, teamwork is not always an option on vacation but this doesn't have to be an issue! The key is finding some understanding and balance. Unfortunately, time on vacation that will be both together and alone is hard to come by, so plan ahead for those days. Ladies, we all know you really love a certain amount of spontaneity, but on vacation, with kids, it's not that simple. Find ways to get things done throughout the day so that once the kids are in bed, you can have an actual evening (or several) together. You are not setting a romantic mood if you need to take an hour to worry about washing dishes or picking up toys. In fact, try not to worry about that stuff...you're on vacation.
Second, remember that decompressing on vacation should be a priority. That sounds a bit obvious, but again, as a parent you can back yourself into a corner trying to ensure that there are activities going on at all times to keep the kids busy and happy. Our staycation was one week long, and we only had four things "planned" to do within that time. Even though any given day with our boys is a busy day, when we both pitch in and have nowhere to be, there is time to relax. Everyone has those moments of going back to work after a vacation and you realize, "I need a vacation to recover from my vacation." My advice is to plan some time for absolutely nothing to occur.
Third, when teamwork is not an option, sacrifice for your spouse. Melissa and I have both seen "The Dark Knight Rises" but separately. Sometimes you have to go solo, and let's face it, that can be nice too. We have been lucky enough to get some very trusted friends to watch the boys so we can have the occasional date night. We know the boys are in safe hands but there's always worry in the back of your mind, even if it's just worry that the kids are behaving. So there is an additional feeling of safety knowing the kids are back with mom or dad, and you can be free to enjoy whatever you might have planned. As a side note on this, should you find yourself in the fortunate position of getting a day to go do whatever you might want - plan, plan, plan ahead. Melissa, who is so amazing about letting me take some time for myself (even if I'm just writing for you lovely people), told me to go out in the world and have some fun a few months ago. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I was very excited about it. I woke up around 7am before anyone was up, and snuck out of the house. Clueless of what to do, I proceeded to go grocery shopping, as the very option of freedom was frightening and confusing. I got us all some breakfast and was back at the house before 9 (in fairness to Melissa, she continued to do the bulk of kid stuff that day). I honestly had no idea how to go out and have some fun. I'm a little bit sad. Now is a good time to feel bad for me. Aww...
Last, don't go total space cadet without talking to your spouse. Again that might seem like a common sense move, but as a party guilty of this action, I can attest that it's easy to get into the mind frame of, "I'm on vacation, let someone else handle it." Everyone deserves some time to enjoy a quiet moment on vacation, but not by sneaking into another room and just tuning out the world. Talk to each other and be understanding that while it is very true that you both deserve a break, you both need to work to get there.
The typical summer break months are winding down, and so this may be too late to be helpful this year. Just remember that vacations are a time for fun, not fighting.
Happy Vacationing Everyone!