By nature, I am a planner. When it comes to my family’s summer schedule, I like to be prepared and stick to my plan. Our calendar is usually filled months in advance with a plethora of camps, outings, and trips. Without my plan, I feel lost and confused. The days, weeks, and months just run together into nothingness. With a plan I feel grounded and organized. So when I knew that I had no childcare for my kiddos for a span of time last July, I scheduled accordingly. The plan was simple – my husband would stay home with our two kids for part of the time while I worked, and then we would switch roles and I would be home with the little ones. I would have lots of fun outings and activities planned for my days and he could figure out his time with them (along with some “suggested activities” from me of course). We would have boatloads of scheduled fun. This was all well and good, until my husband got called to work out of state last minute and my summer agenda got thrown out the window.
While I love my children dearly, and really do cherish spending time with them, I find flying solo to be very stressful.
While I love my children dearly, and really do cherish spending time with them, I find flying solo to be very stressful. I really don’t know how single parents and deployed spouses do it. I give them a lot of credit. It’s not that I can’t manage alone, it’s more that I don’t manage well. This is even worse, when I don’t have a plan.
So as much as I hate to say this, I was starting to dread our unexpected time home. I knew there would be endless rants of “I’m bored,” “he/she is bothering me,” and “what can I do now Mom?” I thought about planning a mini trip for the kids or scheduling lots of playdates with friends, but neither of these worked out. I even inquired about sending the kids to camp so that I could work and save up my vacation time for an exotic family trip or beach getaway. But alas, the camps could not accommodate us either. So, when the time came for my husband to kiss us goodbye, I had a whole lot of nothing planned.
At first, I began to panic a little, and then I put my planning research skills to work. I tried to think about all the regular activities that I had to miss doing with the kids because I was usually at work and they were at school or daycare. When I looked around, I ended up finding so many fun things right at our fingertips. Some of these we had done before and some were new. Most were very inexpensive and only a few miles away. One day we played at the local beach, another day we took a trip to a museum nearby. We played tourist and took a narrated ride on our city’s trolley. We painted pottery and spent lots of time at the playground.
We let go of our schedules, laughed a lot, and had endless hours of fun.
We also ended up spending a lot of time just playing at home. We did art projects, played outside, rode bikes, read books, and played board games. We slept late, ordered take out, watched too much tv, and stayed up past bedtime. We let go of our schedules, laughed a lot, and had endless hours of fun.
And you know what? The staycation that I was dreading, actually turned out to be one of the best vacations ever! Letting go of our schedules took some of the stress out of daily life. It allowed us to relax, reconnect, and have fun spending time as a family. And isn’t that what summer vacation is all about?