Extending the life of your vacation after you've returned home

Coming home after a vacation is always a strange mix of comfort and difficulty for me. I love sleeping in my own bed; I love the familiarity of the home I've created and reaching the front door safely after being away. But I also tend to walk in the door and think, Wow, I need to make some BIG changes around here (as I eye the piles of laundry I didn't get to and all of the household projects left unfinished, which now total over 10). There has to be some way to live every day like you're on vacation, I thought. Live like it's your birthday. Maintain the same level of peace, calm and feeling of being care-free.

A few things came to mind that I thought I'd share with you, whether you've recently returned from a trip or not. We all need little ways to perk up our days, especially after such a long winter here in Chicago. Here's what I've come up with thus far:

  • Keep eating "vacation food." The first night we're home after a trip, it always feels good to get one last round of take-out. Trying to force yourself right back into meal planning and cooking can be painful. Go out, order in, eat what you want. You can get back on the wagon when your routine truly gets back to normal.
  • Resist the urge to drop a vacation habit. What is one thing you tend to do every morning when you're away from home? Check the sports pages first? Turn on cartoons for the kids instead of the news? Do that. Keep it up for a little while even after the vacation is over. Let your emails go unchecked and unanswered longer than you normally would (and longer than you probably will next week). Ease back into your home life. Feel the freedom a little longer.
  • Notice what's fun. Notice what feels good. When you were on vacation, were you playing with your kids more? Walking everywhere? Saying prayers first thing in the morning, or engaging in a nightly yoga wind-down ritual? Do it at home, too! Unless you're coming from 90-degree weather to a frozen tundra (much like I did), keep that easy feeling in your body by actively reaching for the thoughts and actions that feel good to you — because really, if they feel good in Puerto Rico, they'll feel good in Tacoma, too.
  • Start planning your next trip. I know that may sound like torture, but we always leave things on our list "for next time" when we visit the same place repeatedly. Look at the prices for upcoming flights. Think about the restaurants you didn't get to. Plan on more pool days next time. Remember how much you overpacked so you don't do it again. It helps to have something to look forward to!

As a mom of small children, I know. Travel can be a bear. So much stuff, so many preparations, so little time (it sometimes feels like) to actually enjoy yourself, because the tiny little humans are still following you into the bathroom to pee and waking you up at night and crying when it's time to go home. But unless you're on some sort of nightmarish cruise with no way out, you'll find moments of peace, serenity and clarity when you wipe away the stains from the daily grind. THAT is exactly what you need to find every day, no matter where you are. Make it a part of your routine. Make it a part of you.

How do you ease the transition from vacation time to "back to reality"? I'd love to hear.

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Filed under: Chasing peace, Family

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