When did vacation become more stressful than work?
I was so looking forward to some time with my toes in the sand, book in hand. In the past trips to the beach with my family have always included me having a total meltdown at some point. There is something about not working that is a bit…well, stressful. Why does being with your family nonstop feel more like work than your job? And why does a change to our daily routine cause so much emotional upset?
I don’t have the answers to these questions but I wanted this year’s trip to be different. I wanted a beach vacation with a minimum of drama. And I got it. These are the steps I took:
1) Keep a consistent waking time
Most mornings we were up around 7 am. Usually awakened by the sound of my son screaming. Or arguing with his roommate. Or running around naked. While it is tempting to sleep in on vacation I actual welcome my son waking up early, because that means he will go to bed early. And exhausted from the beach. WINNING.
My advice is to sit around having some coffee and let the kiddos watch a television show. Yes, I am saying I used the TV to entertain my almost 5 year-old whilst I stole a few moments to check email and wake up. Oh the shame. (Do you sense my sarcasm, here?)
2) Have a decent breakfast
For my family this means cereal, eggs or a Duck Donut. (When in Rome…) I figure if I can fill everyone’s tummy before we head out into the sand, I have a better chance of relaxing on the beach without hearing, “mommy I need a snack.”
I find that protein in the breakfast makes for a happier child on the beach. Natural peanut butter on a Belvita cracker works in a pinch!
3) Make sunscreen a part of the dressing process
This is a lesson I have learned the hard way, seeing as most of this summer it has been a daily battle. My son has no problem running around in the buff, so it is easier for me to apply his sunscreen, or “sun slather” as he calls it, while he is still naked. Yeah, I let my kid watch Henry Hugglemonster.
I use a zinc-based sunscreen on him, so he kinda looks like a mime and we make it into a game.
As a side note – On one particularly argument filled morning I dared to put lotion on my hands before applying the sun stick to his face. E backed up as if I were trying to smear wasabi paste in his eyes. I just wanted to put some around his waistline where his rash guard rides up. Bad idea. Very bad idea.
4) This seems obvious
But make sure your children use the bathroom one last time before you leave the house. There is nothing more annoying than getting set up and having your child grab his crotch and say, “I need to pee!” This has happened to me countless times in the last 5 years.
I challenge you to get a newly potty-trained 3 yr. old to pee in the ocean. It is harder than it sounds.
5) Pack your Beach Bag Strategically
I always pack the following for the beach: 3-4 towels, chairs, umbrella, extra sunscreen, a hat for each member of the family, sunglasses, book, sand toys. The cooler will be stocked with water bottles, beer (if necessary to tolerate my family), and 1 small snack. The trick here is to only pack enough food and drink for snacks.
If you drink or eat too much someone is bound to need to pee. Can you tell how much I dislike walking back to the house, showering off, and carrying a slippery child into the house to pee?
6) If You Can, Have an Adult Beverage
I know this sounds bad. But I started having a beer on the beach during this trip, mostly because it took the edge off of my stress. When I was first offered a beer I said, “I don’t like beer.” Cut to the screaming and crying when I tell E we need to reapply sun lotion. I do so and thoroughly exfoliate his skin with sand in the process. (While finishing by beer.)
7) Let Someone Else Do the Meal Planning
We vacationed with another family this year. My friend is an admitted control freak and volunteered to plan out our whole menu. I gladly paid for half of the food and snacks and then sat back. I offered to help her a couple times, but she really enjoyed doing the cooking. And I enjoyed watching her cook.
Everyone has someone like this in their family – their spouse, their sister, or their mother. Take advantage of the fact that some people have fabulous executive functioning, and give yourself a mental break.
Did my kid eat everything? Absolutely not. Did he have a mini meltdown several times at dinner? Yup. But I just ignored it. And I did not accommodate him. He had plenty of snacks throughout the day and he was not about to starve to death.
8) Have another adult beverage while the kids swim in the pool
Afternoons were spent by the pool this year. Interruptions included more sunscreen, fighting over pool toys, and peeing in the backyard. The other major attraction was the outdoor shower. I have to admit this enclosed space with a detachable showerhead made getting sand out of a 5 year-old butt crack so much easier. And it kept the pool clean too.
Having a glass of chilled rose while my son participated in all of the above made everything seem a little more tolerable. Even the sand in the butt cheeks and the spiders.
9) Make Bedtime Work For You
At night we would go through our normal nighttime routine. The only thing we did differently was skipping the bath. He was so tired and cranky that it wasn’t worth it, plus he had been in the pool so I considered him de-germed.
After our books we told him that he was not to wake up his roommate or anyone else in the house. If he did, he would not see the beach the next day. This threat actually worked and he slept like the dead.
10) Take Some Alone Time
About three days into our trip I was craving some time on my own. I got up early, put on my gym shoes and took a walk to the town of Duck. We stayed on the outskirts so this was about 20 minutes in each direction. While I was out I picked up a few things people had requested and got myself an iced coffee.
This time alone felt so good that on another day I took some time away in the evening. The second escape was not very athletic – I just read my book alone on the top balcony where I could see the ocean.
Time alone is therapeutic, and it helps you clear your head. The ADD lifestyle requires a little head-clearing now and again.
11) Remember that going home is the best part
Lets face it; those of us with ADD do better with some structure in our lives. Vacation by its very nature is unstructured. This can cause some increased anxiety, which can result in mood swings.
Just as routine breeds boredom, it also breeds comfort. Go home, unpack, and thank your lucky stars that you didn’t kill any family members. Taking time away from the daily grind is a good way to refocus your energies on the things that matter. It is also a good way to develop some appreciation for the every day people and places we take for granted.
Go back to your “real life” with an attitude of gratitude for your imperfect, distracted, humorous and totally ADD Lifestyle.
[ctt title=”I’ll see you at the beach!” tweet=”I’ll see you at the beach!” coverup=”c3aDu”]