Being married changes you. Having kids changes you. Life changes you. These show you what you could do better – and allow each individual’s quirks to balance us all out. Even if we don’t like to admit it. As Jerry Maguire famously said, “You complete me.”
And this is truer in no part of life than on vacation.
Mom plans a rapid-fire schedule because she might never be back to this part of the world again. Have to see all of it in one week! The itinerary begins at 8 AM when the museum opens, a picnic is grabbed outside the building for lunch, and you’re on to the next site before it closes at 6. Or the pre-booked train journey departs at 8 from across town because you might save $30 by leaving two hours earlier.
Does this sound familiar?
Learn from my (hypothetical, of course) mistakes. Don’t book your return tickets home from England for Sunday afternoon and then plan on a six-hour drive home for Dad to return to work on Monday. Add in the jet lag fatigue. You get home from vacation… exhausted.
Mom needs to sit back and remember that other people are on this trip.
This is a vacation for hard-working Dad, and the teenager will be extra grumpy with an early wake up. Even though the younger kids will be up and excited for the day ahead, rest is good for everyone, especially when time zone change is involved.
But how do you do this? Isn’t this wasting precious vacation time?
It depends what you consider waste. Imagine being able to do more in following days without a fussy, nap deprived baby.
One way our family accommodates this approach for built in rest is to plan to stay in one place for at least a couple of days and sometimes longer.
A couple of years ago in Scotland, we had a packed itinerary jumping from town to town until slowing down to stay on the Isle of Skye for a week. With an old croft house overlooking the bay, this home base for some leisurely driving around the island without a rush or schedule. When the week is yours to explore, there are extra hours to climb to the Fairy Pools and build a dam out of rocks. The rain doesn’t have to cancel a whole day of plans because you can switch the castle day with the driving day. And this week was our favorite of the whole trip.
Be present. Explore. Dive in deeper. These slower days have become our most memorable parts of vacation.
Sounds great, but what if I’m only gone for a week?
You have to change your travel mindset. Go ahead and plan out the days, but be okay with not doing all of it. Allow yourself a slower day in the week and catch up on a late Disney night with a day relaxing in the hotel’s wave pool. Linger at the amazing playground instead of just rushing through on the way to another museum. Maybe, crazy thought, you allow yourself some introvert rest time away from the crazy while Dad watches a movie with the kids.
Remember that your kids are kids. They have energy to burn. Don’t expect them to patiently walk through museums and historical sites with you when you haven’t allowed them to run. Walk back to that park. Or run. At the same time, don’t be worried if your kids are the only ones scampering free. Just because other parents forget kid-life, you aren’t a bad parent if you don’t. Be different. Be okay with a strange look… or two… or five.
Go slow a couple of days. Be together. Settle into your borrowed home and make some amazing family memories.