Those who follow us on the twitters will know that we are on day 5 of a staycation. Staycation is, in essence, vacationing in your own town. Sleeping in your own bed at night, while running all over town doing all the stuff that other families drove 500 miles to your town to do.
Our staycation came to us as we realized that Jackson was about to start The Call Institute at FSM. We wanted some family time with the whole family, but we didn’t want to leave town to get it. You see, leaving town is not as simple as it once was. Nor is it as inexpensive.
Gone are the days of four friends chipping in gas money to do the Great American Road Trip. As it is, our family rides in a fifteen passenger van with a gas line about 2 inches in diameter, and that whole bill comes to the guy behind the wheel. Gone also are the days of crashing at a friends house…that’s cool when you’re single. It’s ok when you’re married. It’s even doable when you have a few children. When you ride in with a posse of 9, you are no one’s favorite house guest, which means you’re looking for a hotel, where you will rent rooms, plural. We’re coming to terms that groups of our size rarely move en mass without some sort of burning bush experience, and so perhaps it would be easier and less expensive to just stay home.
I anticipated it being cheaper. I didn’t anticipate it being better.
Day #1, I woke up and laughed out loud because A) I was on vacation, B) I was already at my destination and B) I didn’t have to load the van. A driving vacation usually means one long day (or two) in a van. By the time we get where we’re going, we’re all wired sky high from anticipation, claustrophobia, and one too many extra shot americanos. It takes me two days on location to chill out to normal, then another day to wind down to relaxed, putting me four days into the vacation without any real rest happening. If it’s a week long trip, that gives me one day before starting the whole thing over.
The staycation relaxation curve is extremely sharp. I found myself enjoying being with my family from Day 1 without the pressure of getting there, getting unpacked, getting oriented, and “Quick! Have fun!”
Entering the Chill Zone early allowed me to enjoy activities so much more…and not having shot the wad on gas and hotels allowed us to actually do some activities with extras that we might not have had we traveled. A few nights ago, we scored free tickets to the Kansas City Wizards’ soccer match against. Knowing I was only 40 miles from home with free tickets, when the boys asked about munchies, I sprung for over priced hot dogs and pretzels and didn’t feel bad about it.
In addition to the soccer game, we all went to the Clifford exhibit at Crown Center, where the little girls ran from display to display as the big boys chased them to keep up. Everyone left having laughed hard – which we rarely managed after the long drive somewhere!
We’ve taken night swims in friends’ pools. We’ve done a little shopping. We’ve gone biking and eatenburgers with the big boys once the girls went to sleep. We had a late night movie last night – in the comfort of our own home. We’ve had a blast and we’ve spent a fraction of what it might have cost.
Parents, if you’re short on cash, don’t let that be the excuse for failing to invest some time into your families. This week, I’ve heard “Thanks, that was fun!” from my kids more than I ever imagined we would.
And they’re right. It’s been a blast. And it’s been simple.
It’s actually triggered a series of thoughts on simplifying. I read an article this morning in the NYT about a young couple who had intentionally simplified their life with the intended goal of owning only 100 items each (a working professional woman in the city, she owned 3 pairs of shoes).
At times, I think what people call simplifying is over-simplified. It cannot just be about owning less stuff like some post modern ascetic. A woman with 3 pairs of shoes is not inherently better, healthier or happier than a woman with 200 pairs of shoes (although she has a heck of an easier time finding the match to her brown flat).
Anyway, that’s probably a blog for another day…tonight belongs to the boys, who are out with Kelsey on a Mom and Boys Date, hopefully bringing me home a slice of pizza from D’Bronx. I chilled out at home with the girls – they were tired from all the partying.
Simple enough for me.
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