As summer winds up and the prospect of a frantic fall looms in front of me, I’m wondering how I can bring the spirit of vacation into real life.
On vacation, we worry less, we plan less, we stress less about the details. Timing becomes less of an issue. Socializing grows more spontaneous. Food varies. Our kids play, and we adults play too, with more time for talking to each other and connecting.
And thus on vacation, we tend to be more fulfilled and less stressed. Contrast this to life in the fast lane with busy kids in which school, homework, activities, and all the logistics cram our calendars and squeeze our brains, leaving little time nor space for nourishing our souls or considering ways to relax as a priority.
Determined to avoid some of the traps of our family’s frenetic day-to-day life, I’ve put together a list of personal and family goals for the school year. I’m hoping that following these pointers will help me solve how to stress less, and extend some of the happiness and joys of vacation into the school year.
1. Bake more. I’ve always loved baking, especially with the kids, but with each passing year I do it less. Meanwhile, my kids love our homemade cookies and they provide a healthy snack that’s more economical than anything I can buy in the store. So baking both offers me something fun and nourishing to do, and answers the perennial question in my house: “what’s for snack?”
2. Check personal Facebook once a week. When in doubt, I check Facebook. Facebook then sucks me in and 5 minutes becomes 20. Do this three times a day and you’re at an hour. Now, that’s a lot of time. Because I want to get better informed about current events, I’m trying to shift this to: when in doubt, read the newspaper (which I do on a phone app). I’ve already shocked my news-junkie husband by piping up a few times in the last week on the Presidential election, leading to some interesting chats. Once I had even heard of a current event he hadn’t yet caught wind of — imagine that!
3. Leave my phone in my room. When I’m with the kids, leave my phone — and everything that goes with it — out of the way so as to easier concentrate on them. Email accounts have inboxes and phones have these things called “voice mail” that some of us tend to forget about, thinking instead that we need to catch calls and messages like a juggler’s balls.
4. Read. I’ve been struggling to find the next good thing to read. When my book club picks a book, I plan to buckle down with that baby every night for at least twenty minutes.
5. Make plans with besties. I think of besties as people you love being with and trust versus other more acquaintance-type friendships where giddy sparks ain’t flying. Whether it’s an old or a new friend, I’m resolving to seek out that person’s company on a regular basis and watch the relationship grow!
6. Exercise. Since my boys have been doing an exchange for the last two weeks, I’ve been juggling 7 kiddos at home, so exercise has gone by the wayside. I’m resolved to get back into the grove after Labor Day. Plus I miss my yoga buddies.
7. One Thing at a Time. One pitfall I fall into is fretting over the many tasks I need to complete rather than calmly making my way though them; meanwhile, since my mind is always elsewhere, I’m not as concentrated on the task at hand as could be. If I can manage to just work through and accomplish one thing at a time, I know I’ll be calmer and more “vacation like”. To me, focusing on the task at hand is one of the key ways to incorporate mindful living into motherhood.
8. Eat dinner earlier. Eating dinner earlier with the kids gives me more time with them, and helps me sleep and get better rest. Sorry honey — you’re on your own! They say that when you eat more early, your digestive system has more time to process your food; we have more time to get ready for bed too!
9. Say Goodbye to Guilt. If ever a day goes by when I don’t accomplish 100 things, I feel racked with guilt. Going to try to accept this, since maybe that’s my own way of slowing down, which can only be healthy.
10. Let it go. My favorite mantra when it comes to all things people. It is one of the simplest ways to be happy, but can be so hard to put into practice. Something gnawing away at you, just let it go, adjust your expectations, accept things and people for the way the are. Sure, stand up for yourself and communicate if need be, but generally just try to go with the flow and let things slide off your back. People have their own agendas, ideas, and ways of doing things, and most often, there’s nothing you can do about it, so why not just accept?
So there’s my little list of ways to bring more vacation into real life.
Let me know what you think and wish me luck!