The truth about vacations with children is that they are hard work. We just returned from a trip to the city with our three children, aged 5, 3, and 1. We had an amazing time. We visited family, an aquarium, a train museum, took a ride on transit, and visited a science centre. All together we stayed two nights. One would think that two nights would be manageable. I suppose it was manageable, but not easy! Packing to leave took me a whole day, mind you it was well punctuated by life with three little ones. While away, none of us slept as much or as well as usual, which is to be expected, despite the ace accommodations we had! We were blessed to be able to stay with my sister and brother-in-law, who gave us the run of their basement, which is set up to be a rental unit!
Boundaries are pushed when you travel. The children ate more sugar and prepackaged foods than usual. Their bedtimes were later and all their naps missed. I do not have children who sleep well in the car, stroller, carrier, or anywhere that is not a bed to be frank. But we did it. We did it and we had a great time.
I thought it took me a lot of time to pack for the trip, but unpacking is a whole other thing! Usually when I return from a trip, a few loads of laundry and some tidying up are all that are required. But this time it seems like we are trying to dig ourselves out from under a mountain of laundry and mess! I just unloaded the car before coming in to write this post. I am feeling stretched. I wonder how much of the stress of traveling is actually caused by my own needs for regulation and self-care that are not being met. I am tired and feel like there’s a huge number of things to do, and no time to do it! Life keeps churning here whether we’re present for it or not.
Just before we left we ordered a new mattress, decided we were going to move our bedroom to the basement, realized we needed to fix the toilet that is constantly running water, and the night before we left the drain pipe under the bathroom sink broke, rendering it useless. Before we left, it felt like we could do it all! I was energized and looking forward to our vacation. But now that we’re back and buried under all the things that somehow fit into our minivan, I’m feeling overwhelmed! I suppose I was taking a vacation from the idea of having responsibilities. But they are real, they are wanted, and now that the trip is over, they need attention.
Life will calm again. It always does. I am learning to appreciate the times where I feel ‘on top of things,’ noticing them as they come. It is with gratitude for the easy moments in life that I am able to be carried through the busy times. I am looking forward to when things calm down again, because I have good reason to value it! Being away and pushing this edge has taught me just how much I value a simple life. Small and slow solutions is such a difficult concept to practice! I reminded the children of this morning, and failed to remind myself, that we need to be gentle with each other and ourselves as we return to our regular rhythm again. So for now, I’ll try to stay centred, take it one breath at a time, and one task at a time, and eventually it will all get done.