Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bringing the Joy of Family Vacation Home

It has been one month since that glorious day in May when my sweet husband walked across the commencement stage to receive his diploma for our—eh, I mean, his—four years of hard work in Grad School.

In the past six weeks our family has traveled 2,784 miles by car and 4,334 miles by air to three amazing destinations for a some much needed R&R, in addition to visiting one very average middle America town to honor the life of a very important person.

Evidence seen here...

My road trip with the three kids halfway across the country. Dada stayed home.

Graduation vacation in Mexico. The whole family together. Delightful.

Camping in Moab, Utah. Multi-family fun.

Our annual trip to California to visit with my family. Just me and the kids.

Across the miles we've had plenty of time together to talk and dream and laugh and dream some more.

The most amazing thing about trips in general is that we get to take a step back from the day-to-day happenings in our lives. Remarkably, when not in the middle of the normal flow—be it the busy, mundane or chaotic flow—of our lives we start to see things a little differently. And if we're lucky we'll be seeing things a lot differently by the time we get home. That's why I love taking trips so much. The new perspective is so refreshing.

I especially like road trips—even with three rowdy kids in the back. The focused time I get with my hubby is precious to me. Endless hours of talking. Endless hours of hand holding. For some reason we don't seem to get much of that goodness when we stick around the house. And the kids are strapped in. Have I mentioned before my love of little children who sit still?

Still and quiet children aside, upon arriving at home my main goal was to translate the wonderful things we've seen, breathed and felt from our time away into our day-to-day living.

However upon arriving at home, the busyness of our schedules, mundane household chores and chaotic ambiance inside our four walls took their proper places front and center in our day-to-day happenings.

Hardly shocking. But honestly, I was shocked. How did we go from peace and harmony on the beach to three short people fighting, screaming and whining all day long? I imagined our family vacation bliss would last a few weeks at the very least, while I was secretly hoping for slightly more. We must have forgotten to pack the good vibes, mellow moods, and go-with-the-flow attitudes in to our suitcases. These delightful ways of functioning together have likely found anther family of vacationers to overwhelm with their joy by now.

But I want them back. Mellow moods, mellow moods, where are you?

So I've been thinking. What are the factors that contribute to such greatness as a family when on vacation?

A few points that have been sitting with me strongly...

Simplify everything. On vacation the schedules are simple. They are not overcrowded with nonsense. We do the essentials. Not much more. Cooking becomes a family activity. Tidying is a mindful practice.

Detach from the stuff. On vacation our space is not overcrowded with ten thousand little things. Or a hundred items of clothing. Or sixty pairs of shoes. Everyone has one outfit for now, one in the laundry and one for later. Just one pair of shoes per person. One hat. One book. In a hotel room or vacation rental there is a place for everything and everything in its place. This is so much easier to do when there are one hundred things to deal with instead of one hundred million things.

Allow children their fair share of the Earth's elements. For my kids, this is no less than eight hours a day feeling the sun's warmth and getting up close and personal with the forces of nature—be it a wave, dirt path or tall rock.

Plan well. There is a time and place for everything in the day. Try to feed the kids a meal two hours late and watch the madness unfold. Try to get just one more thing done on the computer before we leave for that bike ride I promised and watch the madness unfold. Meal prep, kitchen clean-up, quiet time and mama's work all have proper spots. When well executed this ship runs smoothly.

I'm excited to actualize these concepts in our home this week. First stop... delivering bags of stuff to the thrift store. Yay!

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