I went about planning this vacation all wrong.
I assumed just because it was my son’s school vacation, it was mine too.
We originally planned to meet my mother in Arizona during February break, but I had a talk with Brett a few weeks ago, when I would have had to purchase the tickets, and he said he’d rather stay home.
Winter airline travel is no picnic, and it’s expensive. I also know how much Brett likes to be home, and treasures days he does not have to rush out the door, so I said I didn’t mind. We can stay home and relax.
I had visions of day trips to nearby museums. Enjoying time outside in the snow…
But our story most likely resembles yours. It has snowed almost every day and temperatures until yesterday have been frigid. The roads have been a slippery mess and driving has been unsafe.
Nearby museums require at least an hour drive, more like two, on small windy roads.
So we have been house-bound for most of the week. And while my tolerance for enduring cold is decent, Brett’s, no matter how beautiful the snow, isn’t as robust.
If I could include a soundtrack to our most picture-perfect outdoor activities, you would hear:
“Mom, my snowshoe keeps falling off”
“Mom, I put my hand in the river and now my glove is too wet”
“Mom, when do you think you want to go inside?”
He does try. But as a parent, it helps when you are both excited about an activity, not always having to force it. My patience for playing the part of the cheer-leader for our party-of-two, is wearing thin.
So while having to make the best of Plan B each day this week, at least the evenings have been fun. Like so many others, as soon as the child hits the sheets, the husband and I have been greedily binge-watching Season 2 of
House of Cards.
Sometimes we’ll watch two, sometimes 3 each night.
I can stay up late, right? I don’t have to get up early, it’s vacation week!
Just like everything else I planned during this vacation so far, it sounded good in theory, but in reality?
Not what I envisioned.
Brett’s internal clock is about as accurate as the atomic clock, as he has been waking up before 7 each morning, as if for school, and because it’s abnormal for me not to be up before him, he heads straight up to our room looking for us.
This is great for my husband, because he should be up by now anyway, getting ready for work.
But me? I need a little more sleep.
I have been cranky and uninspired. And taking it out on Brett.
It took me until Thursday morning of this week, to finally remember a rule I set for myself last year, and adhere to every school day. But I forgot, I need to stick with the rule on vacation days too.
Whenever I see topics in the news about school vacations, it’s always about the big issues. Like: what do parents do with kids over vacation when they have to go to work? Or about how expensive it is to actually travel during vacation. You also hear about how kids are off routine on vacations, and then have a tough time transitioning when it’s time to go back. Sometimes there are debates about whether we should have so many school vacations at all.
But what isn’t often covered? I’ll break the silence as so many parents are hesitant to admit they are struggling.
When kids are on vacation, how does this affect us?
Not just with scrambling the work/daycare/camp logistics, but how do we, as parents, stay sane when our routine is compromised?
Yes, we all know we need basic requirements, like food, air, clothing, electricity, shower, etc.
But there are other important needs we all have too. Here’s what I know about myself as I start each day:
I need time to myself.
I need a strong cup of Peet’s coffee or two.
I like to read the news and do a little writing to wake up my brain.
If someone interrupts me, or tries to ask me questions before I’m suitably ready to receive outside input: I’m impatient. I snap at them. I’m defensive.
If I start the day like this, usually my motivation and creativity that day are compromised.
So, that rule I mentioned earlier, the one I set for myself on regular school days?
It’s that I force myself to wake up at 6 am, before everyone else. I have this time to myself, to think, to write, to wake up, before waking Brett at 6:40.
When he sees me? Shiny, happy, mom.
This vacation week? I should have known better than to think I could stay up late and sleep in. It just doesn’t happen, and that’s why I haven’t really been at my best.
I have a few other non-morning, non-parental requirements that will cause me angst, and you won’t want to be around me if they are compromised including:
45 minutes to an hour of exercise
Time to talk with my husband (or at least watch a mindless show or two with him), uninterrupted each night
15-20 minutes of reading time.
And that’s it, I don’t ask for much. But at least have these needs identified, and am telling the world.
We spend so much time pleasing friends and kids and spouses, and learning what makes them tick.
But it’s so important to stop and take time to identify what you need.
What makes you happy?
What makes you irritable, or stressed?
How can you organize your day so you have the best chance of having a good one?
And remember, once you identify them, try not to take a vacation from them, unless you want to learn once again, like I did, how necessary they really are.
Last night, my husband was bummed because I declined one night of House of Cards and went to bed early. This morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. and had my coffee in peace.
And managed to get a few words written.
And was happy to see Brett when he woke up early.
This post is a little shorter than most, but you’ll have to forgive me,
I’ll adhere to my routine for the rest of the week, but my kid is still on February break, and it’s not snowing.
We may actually make it out of the house today…
I hope if your kids are on break this week or next, this will be a reminder to you to look out for yourself.
Do you have other suggestions on how to stay sane while home with kids on vacation? Or if not with kids, how you deal with lack of routine on vacations and breaks in general?
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Ah the story of our holidays and, to a lesser extent, weekends. We often say to our son that it’s our holiday/weekend too but of course most of it is still focused on activities with him. We have trained him to read or play quietly in his room on weekends so that we can “sleep in” to 8. Then we all get going. But I still find it hard to get a moment to myself to read or write. I think to be better parents, we have to be aware of and respect our own needs. It’s hard but it also teaches children to think of and respect the others around them and sets a good example for them to take care of themselves and their needs when they are adults.
I like your list of things you require. It’s nice that time with your husband is there. I can imagine, from pictures you’ve posted, the two of you sitting, chatting, with the stars shining over the countryside.
Thanks SL. There’s something so magical I think about that early, early morning time for me. When it’s still dark, and it’s only me and the dog, while everyone else is asleep. Even if Brett were to not wake me, like you said, I’d miss that morning time. Sadly the same tradeoff comes back to me, and that’s with sleep because to hang out w/the hubby in the evenings, and get up early for that “me” time, sleep is what is compromised. But I guess I’ll take the big circles under my eyes w/ that writing time to myself to wake up, do my thing, over the alternative–being snappy and angry all day doesn’t suit me at all!
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How can you organize your day so you have the best chance of having a good one? This is such an important question to answer each day, and I am thankful to be reminded.
Lynne, thanks for stopping by and reading! I appreciate your note–it’s funny how many times we do need to remind ourselves…sometimes I have to say it out loud… yes, I do rate!! Hope you have a great system in place too and have a fantastic day!
Whew! Sounds like me minus the snow since we don’t have that in Houston although my son was praying for one even once so he can snow boarding. Yes, keeping our sanity during long vacation can be challenging but somehow we make it through. Hope the rest of your vacation rocks. Best of fun to you & family.