How much is your vacation costing you?
With summer in full swing, you’re likely planning some sort of vacation or timeout. Maybe it’s a traditional trip — or a change-of-pace staycation. Or maybe you’ve just returned. I’m always intrigued by the different ways folks use their leisure time. How ’bout you?
Do you like to be on the go, exploring new places? Or would you rather curl up with a good book in the hammock?
While I enjoy being around friends and meeting new people, I’m gaining a greater appreciation for solitude. After weeks of mega activity, I’ll sometimes take an entire weekend and burrow into my home sanctuary. I call this my “mole patrol” mode. With all the noise in our external worlds — not to mention the chatter in our heads — we can become overwhelmed. I’m amazed at what a little solitude can do for one’s sanity. Sometimes I catch myself saying, “Oooh — listen to the quiet.”
Recharging your batteries
Deep down, you know what recharges your batteries. I started thinking about the precious bandwidth we allow for such recharging. And I discovered that, in many situations, routines are repeated over and over.
Which is fine, if that’s what you want. Familiarity and comfort can be good things and yield good times.
Sometimes, though, we just fall into patterns and don’t change the dynamic. For instance, consider those gatherings of extended family. We’ve all heard stories from friends about needing a vacation when we get back from vacation. Depending on the dynamic within your vacation circle, you may find group respites (or adventures) to be stressful. On the other hand, you may find them energizing and heartwarming.
Whatever floats your boat
I just think it’s healthy to evaluate once in awhile. Does spending a week with a larger group recharge your batteries? Or, might it be worthwhile to spend a few days in this setting — and reserve a few days for yourself or your immediate family? It’s that Norman Rockwell thing. We often visualize idyllic circumstances in advance. And then when we get to the actual events, we’re disappointed.
Granted, this is much easier said than done. Shaking up traditions can definitely have its consequences and fallout. But so can the toll it takes on us individually when we don’t stop to honor ourselves. It takes courage to stop the merry-go-round and entertain other approaches. You may decide it’s not worth the hassle. Just think of what it’s costing you in the long run.
If you end up spending your entire time off adhering to someone else’s schedule and preferences, it’s bound to result in some resentment. And that’s not healthy, either. On the flipside, you may be yearning for more extended family time and have settled for immediate family activities. Again, it’s a personal decision.
As I was doing my research, I ran across some interesting resources. It wasn’t easy, though. Most commentary on the subject has to do with checklists for packing, scheduling and organizing — all the to-dos involved. Here’s some down-to-earth soul searching information from author Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, though, in an exchange with busy moms. When she asked readers for their thoughts about vacation trends and rejuvenation, she got an earful. Here’s a snapshot:
“It’s not that we don’t love each other. It’s just that it’s hard to get along while confined with extended family for a week.” “I’m not hungry for dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon, and I certainly don’t want to go to the Moo Cow Buffet.”
“Personally, I find extended family vacations — and traveling with friends and their families — very stressful. We always end up in a big house with everyone getting on each others’ nerves. The kids fight, and the adults usually need a ‘real’ vacation by the end of the trip. But, you know what? Somehow, we all get together and do it over again the next year. Because, in between all the stress, there are always great memories made.”
Tips for a stress-free trip with extended family
Goal: To enjoy intergenerational and extended family trips, while avoiding irritations and conflicts.
Strategies: Plan ahead on ways to handle the following challenges:
• Different expectations: bicycling, beach time, hiking, tennis, water park, movies, rocking on the porch, outlet shopping, naps or just whatever the group is doing
• Different preferences: eating out or cooking in? Eating early or later? Different eating shifts? Getting everyone to pitch in on clean up? Bed times — kids and adults
• Housing: same condo/house/hotel or separate spaces
• Activities: individual or group
Sunscreen and soul balm
I would also add some alone time — wherever you can find it. You could go for a walk, run an errand or retreat to your room for a bit. Solitude is a wonderful soul balm. And it doesn’t take a lot to restore peace.
©2018 Linda Arnold Live Life Fully, all rights reserved. Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and Founder of a multistate marketing company.