My family and I have just returned from vacation, and it got me thinking...
There were several things that kept running through my mind, some of them are just plain silly, and a few are a bit more philosophical. Just bear with me as I take a small detour from the usual projects and such.
10. 10 days of vacation= 10 day’s worth of laundry. I hate piles of laundry, but after 10 days, forget piles, I have a mountain! As you may have seen in this post, I do laundry every day so that I don’t have to devote a ton of time to it. My “system” means I dedicate about 15 minutes a day under normal circumstances. Today it seems I’ll be spending the entire day on it. Okay, I’ll stop complaining now.
9. Never underestimate the importance of decent toilet paper! Okay, I know this totally TMI but seriously the t.p. in public bathrooms is awful.
8. Saying “no” to your kids doesn’t make you a bad parent. I think, as parents, we tend to overindulge our children when we are on vacation. We buy our son more things, we let him do more activities, we let him drink more pop, eat more ice cream, and stay up too late. It’s fun and, at least to some extent, unavoidable. Unfortunately, it is also our responsibility to teach our children the importance of moderation. Sure we indulge on special occasions, but you don’t want to un-do all of the teaching that you do at home. “No, you cannot have every toy that catches your eye.” “No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast.” “Yes, you do still have to eat fruits and vegetables.” “No, we can’t do every single activity.” It’s also our responsibility to make sure that our children understand what truly makes a vacation special. It’s not about the things or the stuff, or the doing. It’s about us, as a family, being together. Not getting the wooden snake from the museum gift shop is not going to take away from the fun we had in the museum.
7. Take the time to do something educational. It is so important for our children to understand the world around them. The history, the art, the science. As a society we tend to take vacations that allow our children to have fun at places like amusement parks or water parks, and that is wonderful, but we should also be incorporating educational activities. We did a ton of things just for fun, but we also visited Fort Mackinac, and thoroughly explored the details of life there. We visited the Historic Sawmill near Mackinaw City, we wandered on a self-guided tour of the “Mushroom Houses” in Charlevoix. It may seem like these activities wouldn’t be as enjoyable to our 6-year-old as our time in Avalanche Bay Waterpark, but honestly he enjoyed all of it immensely. If you make it fun and share your excitement, especially while your children are young, they will learn to appreciate and understand so much more about the world.
6. We live in a beautiful state. Okay, maybe I didn’t just learn this, but I certainly got a refresher. Michigan is a pretty incredible place, with so much to offer. We spent our vacation wandering a relatively small section of the northern lower peninsula and we saw so many amazing and wonderful places. If you aren’t familiar with the area, I highly recommend a trip. We began by riding the ferry to Mackinac Island. In our few days there, we were privy to some of the most beautiful views imaginable. I got some excellent photos, but honestly they don’t do it justice. The adorable style of the main street, the crystal clear water surrounding, the beautiful stones on all the beaches, the lighthouses, the mackinaw bridge, the old fort, arch rock… seriously it’s amazing.
After our time on the island we wandered over to Charlevoix. (Pronounced Shar-la-voy). The beautiful small town of Charlevoix has a quaint charm all its own. With a gorgeous and relatively short channel connecting Lake Michigan to Round Lake (which then connects to Lake Charlevoix), you are in the perfect place to catch incredible sunrises and sunsets over the water. Their perfectly manicured grass hosts a variety of fairs, festivals and markets, full of unique and impressive talents. The heated splash pad is a wonderful addition for the children and lights up a night for an extra special experience. The channel’s drawbridge provides a bit of entertainment every 30 minutes, and the extraordinary Mushroom Houses are truly architectural works of art. I have barely brushed the surface of all that Charlevoix has to offer. Needless to say we truly enjoyed our time there.
The final portion of our vacation was spent with friends at Boyne Mountain. An incredibly popular ski resort in the winter, the destination has created a wonderful atmosphere full of activities to be enjoyed year round. As far as our son was concerned, the biggest and best part of Boyne was the indoor water park. I personally think the best part was the chair lift ride to the top of the ski hill. The view from the top was well worth the near panic attack I “enjoyed” on the ride up as my small-enough-to-accidently-slip-under-the-bar-son wiggled around trying to see the full panorama. Never mind the fact that I am also pretty terrified of heights. Thankfully he tolerated my death grip and we both made it up and back down unscathed. All of that aside, the view out over the hills and valleys was breathtaking. I cannot even imagine how mind-blowing it would be in the full color of fall. And as if that wasn’t enough, the property is home to gorgeous golfing, several great shops and restaurants, a fantastic spa, multiple pools, lawn games, and even bonfire s’mores.
Again, our trip only covered a very small section of Michigan, and still we were able to some amazing, one-of-a-kind adventures. If you have never visited Michigan before, definitely put it on your bucket list!
5. My normal, boring, everyday life is actually pretty wonderful. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of the daily grind. Isn’t that why vacations exist? But there is nothing like abandoning that grind for 10 days to make you realize why you have chosen your life in the first place. We all tend to establish habits, patterns and routines that may become monotonous over time. Removing all those patterns is a great way to remind yourself how those routines came to be. Habits form from the things we want and need to do. We create our patterns because they are logical and comfortable. After 10 days away, we all were looking forward to returning to our regularly scheduled lives. The truth is that I’m even looking forward to cooking dinner tonight.
4. Don’t forget to relax. We so often fill vacations with activities and adventures. It’s only logical. We chose a destination for a reason, for the things it has to offer. And not only that, vacation is also viewed as a limited amount of time away, and we need to experience all that we can in that time. How many times have you heard someone come home from vacation saying that they feel like they need a vacation? Don’t forget the importance of taking the time to relax and unwind. Lay back and read a book, or enjoy the view, or do some people watching. Heck, get a massage, take a nap, go to bed early, sleep late. Do whatever works for you and your family, but don’t forget to stop… and breathe…
3. I love my home! When we leave for any sort of trip we always try our hardest to leave our house clean. I adore the feeling of walking into my home sweet home after an extended time away. (Even though it only lasts for about 2 minutes once we start unpacking.) There is just something wonderful about returning to my own home. I think everyone has days when they don’t like their house, or their décor, or the kitchen cabinets. Whatever you may feel about the specifics of the actual structure, it is your home. The place where your family spends time, eats meals, gives hugs and snuggles, makes memories. Your home has little to do with paint colors or furniture, it has everything to do with feeling. Even something simple, like using your own shower, provides a warmth and security that is your own. Even the fanciest hotels, with the cushiest beds, lack something simply because it isn’t your home.
2. Get out from behind the camera. If you look through the whole of our vacation photos you will notice something that most of them have in common. A distinct lack of me. I am most definitely the photographer in our family, and nearly all of the photos that do include me, exist only because I specifically asked my husband to take them.
I adore beautiful scenery.
I have a terrible memory and as such I love to have photographic documentation to help jog my memory.
I enjoy hanging back and watching Patrick be a father, I love capturing the sweet and tender moments that will be gone too soon.
In short, I have several reasons for taking lots of pictures, and that is okay. As long as I keep my priorities in check. Sure, when he grows up he might enjoy seeing the photographs from when he was a child, but as he grows up, I need to be right there by his side. I need to be having fun with him, not just watching the show. I need to be sharing the moments, making the memories, building the character, and teaching my son. Photographs will never be as important as actual interaction.
1. You don’t have to have 10 days. There are so many different reasons why a family may go on vacation. To get away from the stress of work, to experience a new place, to learn something, to explore, for adventure, for sunshine and warmth… All of those are fantastic reasons to take a trip, but I truly believe the purpose of vacation is a bit deeper than that. Or perhaps it’s actually much more simple instead.
Connection. Whether it’s connection with God, your spouse, your children, your family, yourself, even the earth. Taking a vacation is about reconnecting with what is important to you. Sure, you may visit an amusement park, but you are there to spend time with your family. You may go out for a fancy dinner, but you are there to spend time with your spouse, you may go camping or hiking, but you are there to reconnect with the beauty and peace of nature.
Whatever connections are lacking in your life; you don’t need a 10-day vacation to restore them. Sometimes all you need is a few hours. Or honestly, a few minutes of truly living in the moment. Make it a priority to set aside time, whatever you have to spare, and dedicate that time to whatever is most important to you. Maybe it’s a peaceful cup of coffee with your spouse, or a bit of stargazing with your child, or a quiet and focused moment of meditation or prayer. Make time, not excuses. You won’t regret it.