Being Your Best Self for your Family on Vacation
So many ways to die on vacation...
I'm sorry to be so dramatic. I don't normally consider myself a dramatic person. But, if I am being honest with you, I did not recognize the person I became on the 2nd half of my family Spring Break trip.
There are many real sources of travel anxiety for many people: flying, losing a passport, navigating a new city, finances......But, none of these were the trigger for me. For me, I started freaking out about all the ways we could die. Upon reflection, I believe that I "went there" because my patience and energy was so low simply because I was not taking care of myself as I normally would. I was "off schedule".
Anxiety is a feeling of fear that presents as worry, tension and increased blood pressure
and 18% of people in the US have an anxiety disorder. Even if you don't, you can experience travel anxiety....and I did.
First of all, I am blessed beyond belief. I have an amazing "activity director" type husband and pretty good natured kids who (for the most part) understand that they don't get everything they want on vacation, but they get some things. We all had a say in what was included in our trip. And, in order to satisfy all of us and to get the most out of our opportunity to be on the other side of the country- it was jam packed.
For first half of vacation, I was really grateful for the experience we were having and focused on really being present to enjoy all the moments with the kids.
And then, I don't know what happened the second half. All of a sudden (and I can remember the exact moment), I became fearful of one of us dying. The exact moment was at Horseshoe Bend (at Glen Canyon) when our oldest said to me what if I just sit here and dangle my feet off the edge....and my stomach just DROPPED. He didn't do it- and I don't even think he was serious about it, but I suddenly felt very panicky. Mind you, we were at the Grand Canyon the day before and I handled that JUST FINE. And for the rest of the trip, I started feeling frightened about way less dangerous things.
Here is what I think happened to me. I love structure. And, I have built in practices to my day that help me be my best self. For example. I sleep from 9PM to 5 AM most nights. I get up work out, read the Bible, journal and read something else to grow myself most mornings. After my workout, I drink a protein shake. That routine has built in healthy sleep, alone time and stress management techniques. On vacation, I felt comfortable skipping my workouts for a week. We were going to do a bunch of hiking anyway. And, I did not plan/expect to follow my morning alone time schedule because this trip was all about being a family. So, I didn't want to prioritize my needs. On top of not eating the foods I normally eat, I think this combusted into a decent size mistake. In retrospect, if I had prioritized an abbreviated version of my morning routine (maybe 15-30 min) , I think I would have handled myself better/in a way I could have been more proud of.
And, that's just it. I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I behaved. How did I behave? Well #1 freaking out about my kids getting away from the edge of every other place we went to and #2 a higher level of irritability. I had less patience for all the things: whining, chewing with mouth open, loud noises.....
As soon as I had a good night sleep (Did I mention I wasn't sleeping well?), I started to see all the solutions of how this trip could have gone better. So, why I am writing this? For me, for next time we take a family trip. And, if you can relate- I am writing this for you. To give you some practical suggestions to make the most of your vacation time. I don't think the big thing here is that I thought we were going to die (and if you aren't traveling somewhere with a lot of cliffs and canyons you don't have to worry about it). I think the big deal is that because I didn't take care of myself, I wasn't my best self. And I want to show up as my best self repeatedly for my family. I can have more influence on my kids than on anyone else in the world. Why wouldn't I want to be my best?
So next time:
I do want to be flexible with my sleep schedule...it is after all vacation. But, I need to sleep better. Two easy ways that I think will work for me: 1) gentle stretching before bed and 2) pack lavender essential oil for my pillow. I don't need these things to sleep when I am on my normal schedule. But, if I am going through a spell where I have a lot on my mind and am not sleeping well: lavender always helps.
As I mentioned earlier: I think prioritizing an abbreviated morning routine would have gone a long way for me. I could have read the Bible and journaled on my phone (nothing extra to pack). A quick walk alone would have been really beneficial too. (I have to admit that my husband suggested this to me while we were on our trip and I felt guilty taking the time for myself.... Why are we like this moms?)
I have only been a meditator for the past few months. But, I do find it to be very grounding and centering. And it is quick and easy to do.
Read in the Car
I am embarrassed to write about this. While my husband is driving, I feel I need to pay attention as if I am driving. I seem to think that if he needs to be awake and alert- so, do I. Or that is not fair for me to read a book while he has to stay focused on the road? If I ask him, I am certain he will say- read a book. And honestly, if I was paying attention to something other than the road with deep drop off next to it, I would have felt calmer. And a calmer Amy would have been easier to travel with. :)
Wherever your travels take you, I hope you enjoy yourself and are able to be your best self.