Vacation is extremely telling about the family involved.
You have the great moments, of course. The moments when the kids are in the back of the van, giggling up a storm because they are so excited. The moments when your family all slows down at the same moment to take in a particularly spectacular view. The moments of victory as all the kids remain quiet during a guided tour.
But you experience all those high moments with a sense of anxiety, because you know that in five minutes, everything could change.
It could be your kid who takes over the fit-throwing during the guided tour. And it probably will be, because yours are the only other kids, and fit-throwing is contagious…kinda like the flu or chickenpox.
The adorable giggles could quickly become screams. The picture-perfect family could become candid if you linger one second too long.
Yes, family vacations are a delicate balance.
Take my husband and me. Our vacation styles are very different. He?s a do-er. He enjoys taking in as much of a place as time allows. He loves to see and enjoy new things and new places. Me? I?m a be-er. (Not to be confused with beer. I?m more of a flavored lemonade gal?if you?re ever at Logan?s Road?house, be sure to try the hand-shaken peach lemonade. You won?t be disappointed.)
But I digress. On vacation, I like to be. I like to relax…mostly on the beach. I like taking in some sights, but for me to have a good time, relaxing has to be the top priority, otherwise I start getting grouchy. I have to have time (sometimes a lot of it) to decompress.
I?m pretty sure I would be perfectly content to be one of those people who finds a beach destination and goes back to visit each year, preferably renting a beach house and having ample time to just be. I wouldn?t get bored by that. Imagine all the books I could read and all the things I could write! And when the vacation came to an end, I would be energized by the promise of next year. I feel misty-eyed just thinking about it.
But my poor husband would have tears of his own. You know…those famous tears of boredom. I?m not sure about our kids, as I don?t know their vacation style yet…although I do know that traveling by water taxi around Oklahoma City?s Bricktown and getting a guided tour of all the restaurants along the canal was not their idea of fun.
There?s that balance thing again.
Our family is quite new to the whole summer vacation scene, so we are still learning. Last year?our first vacation together?I felt like we nailed it. We traveled to Florida for a little over a week, stayed with my relatives and had a good balance between doing and being. We all came home with nothing but rave reviews from our time away.
This year we took a short jaunt down to OKC. And it was a bit of a disaster. It?s what I remember most of my family vacations were like as a child. It was all doing. Trying to see something new during every possible moment, probably because our time in the city was short.
I didn?t enjoy it. The kids went crazy from a lack of free playtime. My husband wasn?t happy because the rest of us weren?t happy. It was painful.
But like any other painful moment, there was a lesson to be learned. Yes, that?s right. Balance. My new favorite word.
As much as a I would like vacation to be a sole representation of my own wants and desires (namely, the beach, the beach house and the gorgeous view of crystal clear water), it can?t be that way. Vacation is too expensive for a portion of the party to be miserable.
The key, for us at least, is to take into consideration all of our personality differences. To find a balance between the do and be, and then find a way to enjoy both.