Vacation

What Do You Think About When You're Not Thinking About Anything At All?

When I was in the 6th grade, I did a social science fair project on how TV time affected family time. Even back then, my own family were hard-core screen time addicts (My parents STILL own six TVs, and it’s just the two of them), so I had to recruit another family to journal their “No TV week” for my project. Of course, we knew what would happen. The first couple of days without the constant drone of the TV would put everybody in a jittery mood, but soon the family would begin talking more, playing games together, and by the end of the week—they didn’t even miss their TV! (At least that’s the story I’m telling myself today.)

Vacation is sort of like that. You get all worked up about “unplugging” for the week, and then by the time you get there, it takes a couple of days to settle in and unwind. It’s worth it, of course, but if we don’t have a rhythm of work, play, and rest, we can forget how to do it. I like vacation time to feel different than regular time, so I don’t cook, work, or watch TV while I’m away from home.

Our family spent last week in Hilton Head. We’ve been going there every summer for the last 15 years or so. Are we traditionalists? Yes! There’s something comforting about returning to the same place year after year, the familiarity of the sand and the waves and even the houses.

My neighborhood is located in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. It’s really hilly and not conducive to leisurely strolls on a beach cruiser, so one of my favorite things to do while I’m on vacation is ride my bike. It’s a great way to see the island, and so vacation is literally the only time I ride my bike outdoors. I can easily cover 12-15 miles, something that makes me feel alive and happy and not at all guilty about having ice cream afterwards.

When I got back, a friend asked me about riding.

“So…do you like listen to music…or what do you do while you’re riding?”

I never really thought about it. I don’t really do ANYTHING while I’m riding.

Of course, there’s one BIG reason I don’t listen to music:

I DON’T WANT TO BE AMBUSHED FROM BEHIND.

“So…like what do you think about?”

That’s a good question.

What do YOU think about when you don’t have to think about anything at all?

I’m on vacation. I don’t have to think about what we’re going to have for dinner or what the kids will do if they get bored. I don’t have to pay bills or really do anything I don’t want to do.

On my beach rides, I think about the scenery, about the books I’ve been reading, about ideas I’ve been thinking about. I think about how far it is to the next red light and whether I should pass that family up ahead. I wonder if the fruit stand is open and if I should stop and buy some peaches. I wonder if they’ll be bruised from bouncing around in my basket on the way back. I wonder if the rain is going to hold off and if I should turn into Shelter Cove because I heard there’s a big sun dial there and I never noticed it before. I like to breathe deep of the salt air and feel the wind on my face. I like to pass the lagoons and look for alligators. Sometimes I pray. I think about the people I love.

When my friend asked me what I think about, I wonder what HE was thinking!

Today, I got in the car to drive to my favorite cycle class at the gym. About a mile from my destination, I realized I had been driving in silence.

I guess it’s going to take me a few days to turn the noise back on!

Your Magical Staycation: Stay Home, Save Money, and Have Fun

We’re on Spring Break this week, and it seems like everybody I know is either at the beach or at Disney World. Except us. I’m not complaining. Home is my favorite place in the whole wide world. And besides, I’ve already been to Disney World, and the rumors are true—it’s every bit as magical as they say: The cast, the rides, even the lines. The magic is in the details.

But you know what’s NOT magical? The crowds, the prices, and the wait times. And depending on the season—the heat. If you weren’t already planning to go, maybe those four things alone have convinced you to SAVE YOUR MONEY and STAY HOME. I’m kidding (sort of), but if you do find yourself at home like me this Spring Break, there are some things you can do to make your staycation feel a little more magical.

When I was kid, I had lots of time to play. We didn’t need a fancy schedule because there was nothing to remember. Go to school. Come home. Do homework. Go outside and play. Repeat. These days, my kids have their own color coded tab on our family’s electronic calendar. When we have downtime, it takes them a couple of days to decompress. We can help them by jump-starting those creative juices with some ideas of our own.

Make It Monday:

Crafty moms, this is your day! I’m not that mom, but I can surf Pinterest like a boss, so you (yes you) are bound to find the perfect craft just by going straight there and typing in something like: “easy crafts for toddlers” or “easy crafts for teens” or “foolproof crafts for moms.” I’m not crafty, but I do like to cook, and sometimes I even let my kids help. My son wants to learn how to make sushi, so I bought a simple kit from Uncommon Goods. And my daughter likes to bake. We can crack eggs and whip cream all day. I found a simple recipe for chocolate croissants I can’t wait to share with some friends we’re planning to see this week!

 Try it Tuesday:

There are so many things to try! Does your town have a skate park? Load up the bikes and scooters and roller blades. My first and last time on roller blades I crashed into a car and ended up with a badly bruised tailbone. That was almost twenty years ago. Maybe it’s time for me to strap in and get ready for the ride of my life once again. The skate park has many flat areas, is fully enclosed, and is safely removed from the parking lot full of cars. If all else fails, I’m not too old to get on a razor big wheel and go to head-to-head with the local kindergarteners. This is my year to be brave and try new things!

 Water Wednesday:

Middle of summer? Great! A warm Spring day? Better than perfect! Spread a tarp in the middle of your grass, drag out the hose, and pour on the dish soap. The kids will have the time of their lives. The grass will be ruined, but I promise it will grow back. Middle of winter? Take a bath! You can read more on the perfect bath here. We have a huge tub in our master bathroom, and I never let the kids use it. They would think it was a real treat! Don’t have a bathtub? Don’t worry! My favorite part of going to the salon is having my hair washed. Wash the kids hair in the sink. It’s a wonderful relaxing experience. (Warning: They will beg you to do this every time!)

Thinking Thursday:

We live in Atlanta, so there are several great museums. My favorite is the Civil Rights Museum. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library is also a fun outing. If I don’t want my kids to THINK they’re thinking, then I’ll take them someplace like the Sweet Auburn Market, a fantastic place filled with strange foods and exotic people. Want to stay home? Great! Your kids might think they hate documentaries, but there are lots of interesting ones. I used to make my son watch them as punishment for not getting his homework done, but an unexpected side effect was that he actually fell in love with them and even now is a bit of a history buff. (My current favorite is Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rogers, and you can find it on Amazon Prime Video.)

 Fun Friday or Friend Friday:

Surely your kids aren’t the ONLY ones who are home this week! Invite a friend to play (You need a break by now), but if you truly do feel like the zombie apocalypse has happened and took everybody you know with them to Zorp, then might I suggest a trip to a local assisted living or nursing home? There’s something truly magical about youth and vitality and when your kids share it with others, a beautiful thing happens. Take some treats (sugar free are great for those who have diabetes) and a fun game. We simply blew up a few balloons and purchased some cheap plastic paddles from the Dollar Tree. Our kids had a blast playing a modified version of Badminton/Tennis with their new friends.

 

You did it! You had a magical week, creating memories your kids will cherish forever. And it wasn’t too hard. You can do anything for five days. And I bet you didn’t even miss the long lines, greasy food, cramped hotel room, or endless car ride at all.

Ready to take it to the next level?

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