Ten Vacation Lessons

We recently experienced our first big away vacation. While we’ve had a lot of stay-cations and a few smaller road trips, for many different reasons we’d not yet experienced the true “road trip” as a family. When I was younger I did a lot of road-tripping on my own and with friends  but as a mom with younger kids, we’ve stayed homebound for many years for many reasons.

  It’s been entirely too long since I’ve laid on a beach or sat in the sun pretending not to have a care in the world. But going far away from home on vacation reminded me of a few things, so I thought I would share them.

  1. I have new respect for the hot-spot. The mobile hot-spot to be more specific. I don’t know who decided that giving phones the ability to share the Internet with multiple devices would be a good idea, but I’d like to give that person a big, fat, sloppy kiss and hug. Having three children who are kept occupied with Internet access is priceless. It sure beats playing “I Spy”, the license plate game, and breaking up endless fights about “who is touching who.” While we still did some of all of that, they were able to occupy themselves for the most part while still interacting and watching the scenery around them when it got interesting.
  2. Travelling with four males is both funny and smelly. I’ll spare you all of the gross details, but if you’ve ever lived with one male, multiply it times four and you’ll understand what I mean. There was a lot of inappropriate joking, bathroom jokes, and multiple inquiries of “Who farted?” 
  3. This brings me to the third thing. After being trapped in a car for twenty hours and sharing a bathroom with all of these males, I’m reminded that I’m thankful that I can’t smell. Anything. Ever. Enough said.
  4. Humidity and bathing suits are not my friend. While my Asian skin loves the sun and soaks it up turning it golden brown, I also sweat profusely from  the top of my head like a man. This has always been embarrassing, incredibly un-ladylike and very unattractive. Gross! I hear Botox cures this which is would be the only reason to consider Botox. After all, I’ve earned my wrinkles but I don’t like literally melting when it’s the least bit humid. And while I’ve somewhat accepted that the days when throwing on a bathing suit didn’t give me complete and utter anxiety, are long gone, I also realize it’s up to me to take some personal responsibility. I can’t just throw in the towel and blame it on age and gravity.  I need to eat better, and work out. Period. No excuses.
  5. The world is really big and it’s my responsibility to teach my kids about its vastness and their place in it. While I don’t ever want to imagine a time that they aren’t near me, I don’t want them to live their lives feeling limited. I want them to feel the amazing, incredible, and endless possibilities of what their young lives can’t yet imagine. I want them to truly feel that the world is their oyster and that they can go anywhere in it and be anything they want to. By exposing them to a bigger world and showing them bigger things, hopefully they’ll understand that. I want them to imagine big things for themselves.  
  6. Going below an 1/8th of a tank of gas when you’re in the mountains and have no idea where you are going, in the middle of a thunderstorm, is going to guarantee a marital spat no matter who you are. Period. Always fill your tank when you have the tank because sometimes taking that risk causes unnecessary stress.
  7. Fun is what you make it! After you’ve nearly run out of gas in the mountains in the middle of a thunderstorm and gotten into a spat with your spouse, making fun of yourself for freaking out during the rest of your vacation is pretty funny. The sooner you can start laughing about it, the better. Truly this is something to remember in life. Attitude is completely a choice in most situations and while being lost in unfamiliar territory sometimes isn’t a choice, how you deal with it most definitely is.  
  8. My children are not perfect. It’s not that I didn’t already know this but when you love them so much, it’s easy to overlook their faults. Seeing them in different situations reminded me that it’s up to me to continue challenging them, encouraging them, and looking for opportunities to help them build their character.
  9. My children are so different from one another, yet so amazing and I can’t wait to see what they will become. Watching them experience new adventures and enjoy life with one hundred percent effort and joy is such a wonderful thing to watch. 
  10. Taking a vacation is good and necessary. It clears out the cobwebs and rests your body. I was reminded of how much I love to swim, even though I haven’t really done it in a very long time (see number four). I’ve been a swimmer since I was a kid, even life guarding for a summer in college, and I love it. Vacation reminded me that I don’t ever want to take a vacation that doesn’t involve swimming again. Lying in a pool in the middle of the mountains does something for the soul that no stay-cation gas ever done. Going away on vacation, unplugging from life for hours at a time, gave me such peace of mind and erased some of the stress from an otherwise tense and frustrated body.   

While I realize that going away isn’t always possible, the act of unplugging, de-stressing, and indulging in your family is priceless. We spent many moments escaping the heavy responsiblities of regular life, laughing at the most random things, and actively “freezing the moment” so we could remember our time together. It’s important to focus on the good moments and not dwell on the bad or the mundane. Thinking about the laughter and the good times in life get us through the more difficult times, until you can get to the good ones again. And time spent together can ultimately bring you closer when you let it.

While none of these are earth-shatteringly new revelations, they have been refreshing reminders. And I will hold onto them until the next time we go away, because there will definitely  be a next time. 

For the health of my mind and body, that is also my choice. 

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