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March 29, 2010

I Need a Vacation from My Vacation!

BLOG-Abroad Until last week, I hadn’t taken a vacation in quite a while. Sure, we take a day here and there to do things together as a family or visit relatives, but it’s been some time since I blocked off time to really get away and recharge my batteries.

Honestly, I think part of the reason we haven’t been away is that it’s such a huge production. Parents, you know what I’m talking about, right? You have to get ahead at work before you go, then worry you’re missing something while you’re gone. Just planning a vacation takes a lot of time and energy. There’s stress about costs, too. And if your kids are young, well, that doesn’t exactly make it any easier.

Sometimes, it feels like vacations actually cause stress, doesn’t it?

Last week, though, I finally did get a chance to get away. Ryan, our oldest, turned 18 (it’s unbelievable how fast time flies!) over spring break. We asked him what he wanted for the milestone, and he -- being a big history buff -- asked for a trip to Rome. Well, Ron and I played around a bit with the budget, saved up, and were able to make the trip happen for him.

The trip was almost like a gift for me, too, since it was the first vacation we’ve taken where I haven’t had to do much planning. We booked some tours and I gave Ryan the guidebooks. He took the lead while I focused on taking pictures and just trying to keep up! Although, I have to say that on most vacations I’m not as lucky since I usually carry the burden of planning which makes it difficult for me to enjoy things the whole time.

Here’s my advice… if you can, scale back and make sure your vacation is a stress-buster and not just another mammoth task on your to-do list.

Budget your money and your time.
As parents, we plan ahead for vacations by arranging things with the family’s schedule and making sure everything fits within the budget. But we don’t often plan out our time, as well. If you have some time off coming up, start planning ahead at work several weeks in advance so you don’t feel stressed out in the days immediately leading up to the vacation or slammed the minute you get back.

If your kids are old enough, have them help with the planning.
If there’s one thing I learned about this last trip (other than Italian food in Italy really IS incredible), it’s that it’s pretty amazing when you have willing and able travel agents in your own household.

The younger they are, the closer you should stay to home.
Long road trips or flights are tough for our little ones and they’re even tougher on you! If you can avoid having to spend long chunks of time traveling, do it. Have relatives come see you or use the time off to explore some of your area’s hidden gems. You just might have more money on-hand and less stress with a staycation.

Arrange child care ahead of time.
If you have younger children, think about arranging child care in advance. There’s a growing trend of families taking their nannies on vacation with them to help provide care for the kids and a little extra relaxation for the adults. You can also use to find babysitters in whatever U.S. city you’re planning on visiting.

So, do vacations excite you or scare you because they’re so much work? How do you manage the stress and create your own stress-free vacations?


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Angela Oakes

I like vacations because they are often a much needed diversion from the mundane, often overstressed day to day. Being a single mom, I learned early on that "fun" is work when you have a child. Somehow Disneyland did not seem the same after kids. So many things I was able to take for granted when I was single suddenly became a source of stress--things like packing extra clothing, mapping out how far apart the bathrooms are (quite far, by the way) for your mostly potty-trained toddler , and how do you keep your sanity in large crowd of other stressed out parents and completely oblivious single people.

Over the years, I have found it easier to plan a larger budget and pack less. Much of the stuff I used to pack, I never used and inevitably needed things I didn't pack. Most places sell the incidentals (at a higher fee, of course) but for me the price is less cumbersome than toting around stuff I might not need.

My son is nine now, and many things are much easier, but each vacation still requires adequate planning ahead. Still, no matter how well-planned, or even how enjoyable the vacation, when I return home, I find I need a vacation from the vacation. So I offer my tip: plan for a couple days following the vacation, to recoop and regroup before returning to the daily grindstone.

Lisa Runkle

Sheila thanks so very much for sharing your story with all of us! I really truely enjoyed it! You're an inspiration to all of us young moms.

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