I recognize that the title is a bit outlandish, but you can’t tell me that you’re not at least a little intrigued. This past summer, my partner and I decided, after looking at our options, (and our productivity), that spending a week to recharge our batteries might be just the thing we need. Our family is small, but there was a level of ease that had been lost within the family dynamic. As happens with children, we had some hyperactive insanity happening in the house, and suggesting to go to the park or play sports with friends just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
Between my partner and I, we were busy, stressed, and not having very much fun. It is hard to be productive when your head is clouded; there is always a lot to do, but there never seems to be any time to clear your mind and relax. When you’re in this type of situation, the instinct can often be to just keep on with the keeping on… This is sensible. Less productivity will, of course, lead to less financial security, which, in turn, leads to even more stress.
When my partner recommended a vacation, I thought he was crazy. I thought a lot of things, actually, including:
- “Are you crazy!?”
- “We can’t afford that!”
- “But what about work?”
He gave a sort of pained smile, and talked of how we had begun living to work, rather than working to live.
I hadn’t thought of it that way… In fact, I realized I had not been thinking much for myself at all. We were so fixated on paying the bills, saving for the kids to go to college, and being financially secure, that we were not being very good to ourselves, each other, or our family… We hadn’t seen our extended family in some time, and my partner told me excitedly that his brother and sister-in-law were going to be renting a place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a full week in August… They had told him that if we acted fast, we could probably rent a nice place near them.
I was very skeptical. Vacations seem to offer such a limited return on investment. Leaving a work situation just to go somewhere totally different and spend a lot of money. When crunching the numbers, it really doesn’t make much sense. Beyond the numbers, however, there is value to be found– that’s what my husband told me, and that is what I now believe to be true… I would not consider vacations a constant necessity, but, every now and then, heading to the beach with the family is one of the best things you can do for every aspect of your life.
When my partner and I were first considering this, my brother-in-law was very excited. He told about all of the great state parks, restaurants, and other interesting tourist attractions that he and his wife were so deeply looking forward to. They had a great house right on the beach, and insisted that we use the same website service that they used to scan nearby Outer Banks vacation rentals. We hopped onto the website they suggested and I moved from skepticism to cautious optimism, and even excitement. The area looked amazing, and the outer banks vacation rentals houses seemed to be very wonderful. We booked a modest house on the beach that was hardly a ten minute walk from my partner’s brother. At this point, I was still not fully sold, but I had budged, and my man was extremely happy.
How did we spend our time when we got there?
We ate amazing seafood. We laughed, we lived at the beach. The kids played games and ran in circles until they were tired, and we felt totally safe and fine letting them go off to certain areas to explore while we read books, had conversation, met other interesting adults, and relaxed.
Did I mention we ate amazing seafood? We treated ourselves to some great wine, as well, and lived a life that was busy in the way that it was full of exactly the types of activities and experiences that we hadn’t even known we were yearning to spend our time doing. Quite simply, it was incredible. It felt amazing to get in touch with nature again; to see the various nature reserves and hear the quiet life that existed in the forests within the trees. To wake up to the sounds of the waves of the Atlantic ocean washing up on the beach and returning was much more peaceful than the unwelcome beeping of our respective alarms.
Before we left, I was afraid that I would not be able to tear myself away from my work, and I even brought my work laptop, despite my husband’s insistence that it wouldn’t be necessary, or that it would detract from our trip. I brought the laptop because I still thought that I couldn’t afford to take the time away from work, and, not only that, that I would be bored or disinterested in a week where I was fully disengaged from my professional life and work…
Well, he was right about one part– it wasn’t necessary to bring it. When we were packing up at the end of our weeklong vacation, I eventually made my way to packing up my little computer; it had actually, literally, gathered dust. My state of mind, on the other hand, felt like the dust had been blown off— I can’t remember even feeling so fresh.
Now, was is it an investment?
Of course it was, I think. I came back to work the next week feeling like a new person. My mind was a clean slate, and I was in a much better mood. I had a refreshed perspective on my duties. Chores didn’t seem as much like chores, and the aspects of my life that I was enjoying before I left? I’ve been enjoying more.
I am also at ease because I know that we are going to start prioritizing travel, and make it a part of our lives. The kids are happier, my partner is happier, and I am too.