What I've Learned on My Summer Vacation...So Far

Family Matters on 07.10.12
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Photo: Sarah Fernandez

We are only three weeks into summer vacation (that would be for the kids, not me), and I've realized that there is no better way to learn about your family than spending forced time together. The first week of vacation sent us all into shock. I was not used to having both kids around while I work nor were they used to spending so much time with me or each other or even at home. We were pretty much all screaming, "Help, get me out of here!" and I had no idea how we were going to make it through the summer. But by the end of week two, we had finally gotten into a bit of a groove after the initial shock. Of course, in week three they headed off to camp for a few days. The fact is that there is no such thing as normal these days and not having a standard routine that we live day in and day out like we do during the school year is both refreshing and a bit daunting, but it has most definitely taught me a lot about my family and how we interact. Here are just a few things I've learned only one-quarter of the way through our summer vacation.

1. My children are incapable of getting in the car without at least one of them crying or screaming in the ten seconds it takes me to grab my bag and lock the door.

2. At least 99 percent of the time that they say one of them hit or bit the other one, they are lying.

3. Their happy place is the beach. They can argue all the way to the beach and all the way home, but those two hours we spend jumping waves and building sandcastles are pure bliss.

4. Summer is exhausting. All the outdoor activities combined with the heat and going to bed later than normal on most nights equals really tired kids and they need a break. Despite my desire to not let them nap, it's important to give them the opportunity to rest every day even if that means allowing them a bit of television in the middle of a sunny day to re-group.

5. They are ridiculously spoiled. We don't shower them with new toys or give them loads of money to spend at their will, but we chose to live in a place that is a summer destination and we like to take advantage of all it has to offer, much of that luckily being free. In the past three weeks they've witnessed multiple world class sailing events, gone to film festivals and concerts, watched local baseball games, attended numerous playdates and barbecues, and have barely gone a day without hitting the beach. While we live where we do so they can experience all of this, it is clear that we also need to teach them that this is not normal for most people and they are really fortunate to have all of this at their disposal.

6. A little time apart from each other is a good thing, but when push comes to shove and we spend 24/7 together we really do work well as a family unit.

What strikes me about what I've learned in the past three weeks is not the good or the bad, but just that I have never noticed it to such an extent in the past. How is it that we go from day to day living our lives and missing so much? I work from home and even though they go to school, we spend a fair amount of time together. But spending so much uninterrupted time with them is allowing me to get better at picking up on their little cues showing things such as their exhaustion or boredom and that in turn is helpful in preventing problems before they start. Whether you're heading for a getaway or enjoying a staycation, taking a long weekend or more if you can and really spending your days together uninterrupted is an eye opening and beneficial experience.

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