I am proud of myself for an unusual reason.
This past week, I took a vacation. And this time, unlike almost every other time I’ve tried to do that… I was good at it.
I actually relaxed. I did things I wanted to do, at a pace I was comfortable with. I had lots of fun. I felt genuinely good and not overburdened when I came home.
This is much more difficult for me than it may sound. I’m awful at this sort of thing. But this time, a lot of things came together. I’m going to jot them down here, in the hopes that this might be something I can repeat.
One, the actual work I was taking a vacation from wasn’t onerous. I think that’s a big deal – if you’re taking a vacation because you “need” it because your work is horrible, then you don’t need a vacation, you need to quit. But if you have a great team and work you enjoy? If you can actually unplug for a week and have everyone wish you well and know that you’re not coming back to three weeks’ worth of extra work because you took one week off? That’s a great feeling.
Two, limited travel. We only went to the seashore, which is about an hour’s drive from me. So the travel itself was long enough to feel like I’d really gone somewhere but short enough that it didn’t take an entire day at either end of the vacation just to do. Travel can be stressful (especially with three young children!), so ending a vacation with a huge amount of it sort of works against the purpose of a vacation.
Three, timing. Sort of related to number two, but I didn’t end my vacation the night before returning to work. I came back on Friday night, but I don’t start work again until tomorrow (Monday) morning. Being able to unpack leisurely, still have home time (both for chores that would bother me otherwise and relaxation), and readjust to my own environment again before getting back into gear did wonders for my enjoyment of the whole trip.
Four, the trip itself didn’t deviate too much from my normal routines. I still wrote every day (obviously), didn’t push myself to the point of exhaustion to try to “maximize” my vacation (what a silly concept, I now realize), and still sang my children to sleep every night.
And five, of course, was the company. This was a larger family gathering (more than just my children in attendance), we were all on the same page about what we wanted to do, and of course, I love spending time with them. The highlight though was all the time I got to spend just playing with my kids. Beach trips and rides and games and attractions, all in the name of us just having a great time together.
So that seems to be the formula. I’ll do everything I can to remember it, because I want to keep walking together with my family like this for a long time.