As I have recently come back from vacation with my family and am working to dig out, I have been pondering the question: Is vacation a blessing or a curse? I have decided that it is what you make it.
I think we would all agree that technology has increasingly blurred the lines between work and personal time, which makes vacation tricky. On one hand, we feel obligated to stay connected—to check in or weigh in to emails, tweets, posts, etc. On the other hand, we have so little true personal time we want to fiercely protect our days away. There are pros and cons to both choices.
I was blessed to have an extended time away with my family this summer. The first half was a working vacation—I am not sure who coined that term, but it really is dumb. I found that during my working vacation I did not relax—my family members around me did. This was a problem. I was still in work mode with a schedule and a checklist and a I have to get this done attitude. I was not as patient as I could have been with my family, and in some ways I was going through the motions of vacation because I will still working.
The second half of my vacation was actually vacation. Although I did not completely disconnect, I did fortify myself with an out-of-office reply and felt the power of knowing that I did not have to respond or check in. Finally, I relaxed and enjoyed the vacation. I truly recharged my battery and had fun with my family. It was great and truly needed.
But eventually, you have to come home and reality sets back in. As I have been digging out post-vacation, I have really tried to celebrate the vacation as a blessing not as a curse. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of deadlines pressing, meetings waiting, and communications to be answered, but to allow that forfeits the blessing of the vacation. My children are 15 and 12 and as much as I do not want to admit it, our summers with them all to ourselves are dwindling. My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary recently and I know that our relationship deserves (and needs) time unencumbered by deadlines and the demands of the life we have created together.
So in the end, vacation is like anything else. It is what you make. Your attitude toward it makes all the difference. When I look at my list of to dos and feel overwhelmed, I take a deep breath, think about our fun on the boat or the games we played on a rainy afternoon, smile, and keep going.
I have decided to make vacation a blessing—it’s a good step forward for me. Next step, eliminate working vacations—well, it sounds good any way!
If you have vacation left on your calendar this summer, enjoy it! Unplug and relax.