It’s been a full week since we’ve returned from our Spring Break trip to South Carolina, and already I could use another vacation!
Actually, I don’t think I ever really recovered from our time away. Don’t get me wrong — it was wonderful to escape the cold Pennsylvania weather and leave our hectic schedules behind for a few days. But let’s be honest … traveling with kids, no matter what their ages, isn’t really a vacation. It’s just life in another city (although, it does get more enjoyable as they get older, or so I’m told).
Life was particularly hectic before we left town, so I made a conscious decision not to write or post while on vacation (I’m trying to live more in the moment and enjoy family time, remember?!). That said, I did jot down a few thoughts (going cold turkey isn’t my thing).
My observations from our spring vacation are vast, so I decided to break them into a four-part mini-series … kind of like The Thorn Birds of the ’80s, but with less drama (or at least no R-rated drama). I’m calling my series “I Survived Spring Break,” and today’s post is the first installment …
I Survived Spring Break, Part I: The Pre-Trip Hell Week
Hell Week isn’t just for college kids, police cadets and Navy SEALs. Yes, each of these groups has their own rendition of Hell Week, with the Navy’s of course being the most rigorous and demanding. According to the SEALs website, Hell Week “tests physical endurance, mental toughness, pain and cold tolerance, teamwork, attitude and your ability to perform work under high physical and mental stress and sleep deprivation.” Hmm … sounds a bit like what us Moms go through in the days before a family trip, doesn’t it? Ok, that’s a gross exaggeration (with no insult intended to SEALS — I truly admire their commitment, fortitude and sacrifices), but I think you know what I’m saying — it ain’t easy, sista!
The pre-trip to a family vacation is nothing like the pre-party to the prom or other big event. There’s no dressing up (I’m lucky if I shower), no drinking (some days I wonder why I gave that up), no loud music and even louder laughter (just loud voices and even louder yelling), no cameras (thankfully!) and no fun (at least not for the crazy person running around trying to get it all done … can you guess who that is?). What was my pre-trip hell, you ask? I’ve made a list:
1. Research – We planned this trip months ago, and by we I mean me and by planned I mean made room reservations. That’s it. Just room reservations (I booked a condo near the beach, to be exact). This is completely out of character for me and caused quite a bit of anxiety. Mapping out the drive, booking a hotel room for an overnight stay mid-way to South Carolina, researching local activities and creating an itinerary … all things I was frantically still doing 24-hours before our planned departure.
2. Clothes shopping – Naturally, everyone had outgrown their summer clothes, so a shopping trip was needed (despite the lack of extra time for this). My apologies to anyone who may have crossed my path during my frenzied outing.
3. Grocery shopping – Knowing that we’d be in the car FOR-EV-AH, snacks and drinks were a necessity, not a nicety. Plus, we were staying in a condo, not a hotel, so we planned to eat breakfast each day at home. Translation: more groceries and a bigger cooler for the car ride.
4. Laundry – My 7-year-old NEEDED to pack his “favorite” Virginia shorts and my 10-year-old HAD TO bring his “lucky” purple Elite socks (yes, socks!), among other things. Of course these items weren’t clean, so to ward off the meltdowns, I was up late doing laundry. My favorite pastime.
5. House cleaning – Nobody wants to come home to a dirty house, but actual cleaning was not in the cards. Tidying up was all I could muster between the other pre-trip tasks. Good enough (my new mantra for the week)!
6. Primping – Ok, I guess this one was a little like pre-prom, but without the excitement. Squeezing in time to get my roots touched up and my nails done was a necessity, but also a huge time suck. The stress made it feel less like pampering and more like another chore on the to do list. Total buzz kill.
7. Packing – I despise this part of any vacation. I pack too much and still always forget something. The boys are old enough now to pack for themselves (finally!), but bag checks were required to ensure that underwear was included and more than five college/team t-shirts were packed.
8. More packing – Loading the car was almost as bad as packing the luggage. It was time-consuming and frustrating, but thankfully my husband took the lead on this. My hero, even though I did have to rearrange a few things so they were within my reach more easily.
9. Easter plans – Being away from home on Easter gave me an excuse to scale back our usual Easter basket/egg hunt traditions. I made only small baskets and hid just two golden, surprise-filled eggs. Done. Good enough. I think I’m getting the hang of this new mantra!
10. Sleeping – Just kidding! Twenty-four hours a day wasn’t enough time to get it all done so something had to give. Can you guess what it was? Did my bitchy, pre-vacation demeanor all week give it away?
Oh, did I mention that all of this happened during a week when the kids’ schedules were jam-packed with practices, games and school events at which I needed to be? Good times. But I survived. We all survived. It may not have been pretty, and it definitely wasn’t my finest week, but I lived to tell about it (and so did my family, surprisingly). Score one for me.
Next up … I Survived Spring Break, Part II: The Road Trip. Bring it on!