With my husband taking on his new job, and being the extremely hard worker that he is, I had to force him to take two much needed vacations.
First we went on a New Jersey trip where we visited my in-laws, relaxed at a water park, and went to the Jersey Shore for the first time. Then two weeks later we went to Florida where we visited Disney Springs, took our daughter to her first beach, and visited the Kennedy Space Center where we saw a live rocket launch into outer space.
Both of these trips were fulfilling but, as with most things in life, there were lessons to be learned along the way. Here are a few things these trips taught me:
1) If you’re a new parent or seldom travel with kids, understand it will be a very different vibe
I am so grateful to be making lasting memories with my little family but I have to be honest that travelling with a toddler has its moments. Between the frequent potty runs, the picky eating, and the irrational fears of escalators, we had to adjust and temper our expectations.
We knew that a family vacation would be very different from our typical romantic couple vacations, but there were points we had to just laugh at the contrast.
Where we once would’ve been sipping adult beverages on the beach while relaxing, we were making sand castles and searching for seashells.
Where we once would’ve gotten dressed up for a fancy dinner date, we got toddler friendly take out and relaxed at the hotel.
Where we once would’ve slept in for as long as desired, we were awakend extremely early by an excited toddler every morning.
And I loved all of it.
I just want to make sure that we all understand fully what to expect when we are going on a family friendly holiday verses an adults only holiday. With most things in life, walking into a situation with your eyes wide open will lesson the chance of disappointment or unmet expectations.
2) Factor in wiggle room for your travel plans
Out of the last three flights I’ve taken, two have been canceled, and this has been a similar experience for many other travelers across the world. There has been lots of speculation surrounding the recent unreliability of airlines and flights but ultimately the implications for travelers are the same. We must remain flexibility in our travel plans, factor in possible cancelations or delays, and always have a plan B.
During our New Jersey trip, our return flight was cancelled, with alternatives not open until two days later. Both Jeff & I had to be at work the next morning, so our only option was to alter our rental car reservation, and make the long unwanted nine hour drive from New Jersey to Ohio.
Although thankfully the drive ended up being fine, with Chidera cooperating, we would’ve preferred to fly. But with no other reasonable option, we had to adjust, pivot, and make the drive.
Lesson learned: the art of being adaptable is more than a buzz word you use during job interviews, and is a real life transferable skill that has proven useful numerous times.
3) Regular breaks are very necessary
You guys know how big I am on “securing the bag” but never be so focused on work that you forget to take some time for yourself. Most employers recognize that workers are more productive when regular vacations are built into the yearly schedule. The irony is that many employees feel guilty for taking periodic breaks out of fear of appearing “lazy” or “soft” and this misconception can lead to burn out and work fatigue.
In case you need someone to say it, TAKE THE VACATION! It doesn’t have to be extravagant and something as simple as booking a hotel with endless take out can have a profound impact on your mental health thus impacting how you show up at work.
No matter how big or small, it’s important to find that balance between work and play. Let this be a quick reminder that self-care is not selfish
4) Sometimes simple moments can have the largest impact
Jeff insisted that we go to the Kennedy Space Center and even though I wasn’t overly excited about it initially, it ended up being one of the highlights of our Florida trip. Chidera was fascinated with the space shuttle, Jeff was excited about pretty much everything at the museum, and I loved being able to see a rocket launch in person.
Likewise, while we were in New Jersey, being able to step back and spend quality time with family is always refreshing. I particularly loved being able to see my brother & sister in law’s new house, and in true Tiff fashion I gently nudged my husband to help rip up the carpet while we there. It’s always good to be useful when you can.
Something as simple as enjoying the Jersey Shore for the first time and seeing the excitement in my daughter’s face is a memory I will never forget. Kids have a way of forcing you to slow down and savor the small moments. Seeing the world through a toddler’s eyes will give you much needed perspective on what’s truly important in life.
I’ve been blessed to enjoy both the fancy extravagant vacations and the simple affordable ones, and I’ll be the first to say that both can be incredibly enjoyable. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to make lasting memories, and sometimes the most simple moments can change your life.
As we head into the last quarter of the year, I’d encourage you to do a quick check-in to see how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling a little burned out, be intentional about taking a break, even if it’s a short one. Let’s drop the notion that you’re selfish if you prioritize taking care of yourself. It may be cliché but still true that you can’t fill up others from an empty cup.