My vacation was mostly great, but I made one mistake. First I’ll tell you what I designed well and then what I didn’t. My hope is that I catch you before you leave for your vacations and help you design them, so you maximize relaxing and having fun with your loved ones. This is an important area of life.
Things I did right (please imitate if it would be useful):
1) LIMITED WORK TIME.
I love to work, but left to my own devices I will let it take over, even on vacation. Also, I have this funny way of not liking the concept that I’m not “needed” at work, so I will often manifest some sort of minor crisis while I’m away, just to feel needed. Silly. This time, to counteract all that, I limited work time to 90 minutes a day and had to do it during non-prime “fun times,” like early in the morning or after the kids’ bedtime.
2) HAD VERY FEW GOALS.
Still a do-aholic on my vacations, I have caught myself viewing vacation as a time to catch up on the work I couldn’t get to during regular business hours. In addition to work goals, I have toted along personal goals, like try something new, go on a date with my husband, quality time with the kids, read a novel, write a family history and on and on. What a recipe for disaster! This time I simplified with only the goal to connect with the kids and family.
3) DESIGNED CONVERSATIONS.
Because it was important for me to connect to the people I was with, I formulated one set of juicy questions to make sure and ask. It led to a lively and interesting conversation. I asked my husband, father and mother in law, sister and brother in law what they felt the greatest gift was they got from their spouse, father, mother, sibling. I did not mean a physical gift. No two answers were alike and I learned so much. This conversation was a launching point for other really intimate and lovely talks between us all. A little bit of creativity, decisiveness and courage goes a long way to making meaningful moments. Everyone wants them, but few people know how to inspire them. Do become one of those people.
4) DID SOMETHING I’D NEVER DONE BEFORE.
Okay this one snuck back on my list, too. Can you tell I didn’t get my novel read? I actually did two new things and loved them both. I went to a demolition derby and I rode down water slides with my kids. Need I say more? FUN!
5) DESIGNED HOW I’D EAT.
I left room for debauchery, but within limits so I wouldn’t make myself sick or have too far to bounce back when I returned.
THINGS I DID WRONG:
I didn’t account for staying connected with my husband. I am spoiled; I usually feel connected with my husband and we did have some lovely long car rides together, but other than that we were both uber-focused on our other family members, our vacation work and play activities, and not so much on each other. We didn’t keep to our usual bedtime or nightly ritual together and by the end, we were missing each other.
I am happy to say that instead of beating myself or him up about this, we just owned up to the mistake and made a promise for next time. We will stay connected the whole time by keeping the institution of our bedtime/nightly alone time. I feel better already and assured that next vacation will be even more designed, balanced and beautiful, because I learned from my mistakes rather than cursing them.
I am writing to save you from the mistakes in planning I and others make so often. I want your summer vacation to be well worth the time and money. And if you don’t have a vacation planned yet, please remember all these tips for the next vacation you do have! If I forgot a tip, please add to the blog in a comment box, thank you!