The TSF blog was created with wellness in mind. Our ideas include wellness in all areas of life – self, relationships, work, and family. We want the blog to be informative and give our readers practical tips for the challenges you face. Taking time out to decompress is part of taking good care of yourself. How do we make the most of those precious 10 days a year, so that we don’t need a vacation from our vacation when we return? Below are some points to consider both before and during your trip.
For those with jobs in a 24x7x365 working environment, consider having a conversation with your manager. (Hopefully if you’re going on vacation tomorrow, you’ve already had this conversation!) It’s important to have a plan for the coverage of your responsibilities when you’re gone. If you have a team covering for you, do your best to leave clear written instructions and items for follow-up. Were there any hot button issues or client crises before your leave? Should your co-workers be expecting a follow-up call from a client? Try to have as much of this conversation in advance. This can reduce the likelihood of them having to contact you while you’re out.
The difference between a rejuvenating escape and a disappointing trip can be summarized in 2 words: unmet expectations. Consider what your expectations are in the following 3 areas:
Money: We won’t spend a lot of time on this one. Everyone hates the B-word, so I’ll say it like this: establish a spending plan and stick to it. If you know you can pay everything off on your credit card next month, go for it. You might find it easier to use a debit card (pulling from a separate account not tied to your monthly expenses) or purchase a VISA/Amex gift card for the amount(s) you want to spend. When it’s gone, it’s gone!
Kids: Little ones tend to do better when they know what to expect. My best friend has 2 kids; the older of whom she is discovering is “not [her] free-spirited child.” On a recent trip to Disney, her 4 year-old wasn’t as enthralled with meeting all the big costumed characters. As a mom, she found it helpful to “brief” him on what the choices were that day, who they might “run into” and what rides they might ride. Flexibility is key with kids!
Spouse/partner: Do the two of you have different ideas of what a vacation is? Does he picture white sand, sun and surf for days on end while you’d prefer to visit historical sites and museums? Do you prefer sandwiches on the run while your partner would like to dine out? How can you meet each other in the middle so that each person gets some of what they want out of this trip? Discussing your itinerary ahead of time will help everyone have a good time.
Consider unplugging from everything while you’re away. Understand that I am with you. I’ve got a slight twitch as I type this, because I know that panicky feeling I get when I’m in the grocery store and realized that I left my phone at home. I love my phone and everything it does to make my life easier. But I’ve also become tethered to it, in a way I suspect most of my readers have. So if the idea of having no electronics for your entire trip makes you nervous, or you have the type of job in which you absolutely must remain in communication, why not establish a “no-phone zone” certain times of day? Or only checking your e-mail once a day, after dinner? Oh – and all of your friends/extended family can wait until you return to see your photos on Facebook. So don’t use photo sharing as an excuse to take your laptop on vacation. 🙂
Have you tried fully “unplugging” before? How did you do with no laptop, phone, tablet, or social media for a few days? What differences did you notice in your family as a result of this commitment to unplug from everything else and get connected as a family? Send us your stories in the coming weeks; we’d love to hear from you!
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004.
Elicia McIntyre, a licensed clinical social worker, and graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, has 15 years’ experience providing counseling to adults, children and families in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. She has helped clients navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. Elicia helps couples increase emotional intimacy, and foster healthy connections among family members. She has spent the past 3 years traveling nationally and overseas, providing education and intervention to military service members and their families on communication, stress management and building healthy relationships.