We recently went on a family vacation to Jamaica and it gave me time to reflect on the importance of family vacations, whether they are simple or extravagant. Stepping away from real-life stressors for a while can be critical to appreciating the joys of family. The kids fought less because they were excited and distracted. We adults were also very relaxed because there was no work or household issues to be cranky about. Everything seemed so wonderful as we sat by the pool sipping drinks, eating fruit and watching the kids splash around. We got re-acquainted with their smiles and our own. Life seemed so good and we took time to count our blessings.
For many years during my childhood we didn’t take many vacations due to financial hardship and job insecurities. When we did go away together it was to visit relatives. While that was enjoyable in its own way, it didn’t count as a vacation in my mind. There was so much planning on taking gifts for everyone and when you get there you are concerned about all the people you came to see. There is little time to focus on pleasing yourselves. You don’t get to completely clear your mind.
I remember that as we got older, my parents would take short vacations without us and I loved that because they were both in sync and happy for weeks after they got home. They would stop the usual bickering because the getaway provided time to enjoy each other as people and no chores or interfering relatives to argue about. This would reassure us as kids that our parents could be happy together and it was just all the external stress that made them unhappy. This increased the importance of vacation time in my mind.
My husband had even fewer family vacations than I did when he was growing up but we both agree that it is something important to incorporate into our family life. There have been times when the economy was tough and we were not able to go anywhere exotic but that didn’t mean we couldn’t take a vacation. We found places to drive to rather than fly and went for a shorter period of time. We found activities that were free or less expensive but we still explored something new and enjoyed ourselves. We got to bond with one another with no concern over homework, bills, etc. Many people do ‘stay-cations’ these days when they can’t go anywhere far.
The stresses of life get to us all and under all our love for each other, we start to build small resentments or annoyances. We get tired and frustrated with the kids while having to nag them to do their work, practice music, don’t fight. During a vacation, none of this is necessary and we get to fall in love with these little guys all over again. Suddenly their angel wings come back. I guess they were always there but our frustrations started to cloud our vision to see red instead. Even with our spouse, we begin gazing at each other as if on a honeymoon again. Quite a change from home where we rarely have time for romance or even casual chatting. Now that we are back home, the stressors are back on. However, the trip provided a change in perspective that will hopefully get us through it all happily….at least for a while!