Could the Mom Staycation be this year’s Caribbean Cruise? Sometimes being in your clean house, alone, could be just the trip 2020 ordered.
I hit the wall this month. You know the wall. The parenting one.
They were always calling me.
"Mom!!! Mom!!!” Why are they always looking for me? I’d whimper… then realize I was hiding in the bathroom. Again.
Since March, we have been together in this house. There was a brief and wonderful beach vacation thrown into the mix in June. But, then, all of us were together in a different house.
It’s been the length of two summers since the pandemic began. Usually August is when those ancient rhythms of sibling conflict set in, signaling the return to school and peers and important-time-with-other-adults.
But this is the Endless Summer, is it not? Bless us, everyone. Our internal clocks are ready to pack book bags and shed tears on school steps and instead, we are charging up tablets and crying because we are all still here.
Family Togetherness is a special, but by August we were no longer Better Together.
I split the kids between wonderful grandparents and said we were all going on vacation, just not together.
“Where are you going, Mom?” Oh, I’m staying here.
I wanted to be in my own house alone. There were some meetings I wanted to attend, a few things to get done. Really, I do love my house. We were actually overdue for some time together, just us.
The week before, partly to prep, and partly out of a strange school-at-home nesting desire, I rearranged furniture, purged closets and cleaned. The result? My house felt like a lovely, restful space.
Now, I was taking a vacation, surrounded by décor I had chosen, and items that filled me with joy. (Also, on a Mom Staycation, every time I returned home, the house looked and smelled the way I left it!)
The fun of my own Mom Staycation is that I got to make all of the rules.
I decided at the beginning what I would and would not do.
Being able to get work done, without interruption felt like a gift. Working ahead would also gain me more margin when the kids were back, reducing stress.
There were a few meetings happening that I was glad to participate in without wrangling childcare, or hiding in a closet on Zoom.
I grocery shopped because I wanted to have a stocked, clean fridge when the kids came home. Then, I made doctor, dentist, and vet appointments. Getting to those tasks somehow is impossible in everyday life but having them done feels so good.
What did decide not to do? No cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry. I also drove nowhere. I love to walk or bike and we do it as a family, but having the time to do it alone felt dreamy.
When I slowed down and took a break from caring for others, my body told me clearly what I needed. If I wasn’t working I was outside moving. The first day I biked and walked seven miles, on separate intervals throughout the day. I needed to clear my head in the quiet and be in the sun.
As I chose what to do and what not to do with my time at home, I was able to observe what I gravitated towards and what I didn’t even miss.
Somewhere along the road of adult responsibility we often quit being students of ourselves, don't we?
We also get so caught up in the comparison game. Who wants to admit that rewatching Hamilton in fragments for the choreography gives joy? Or who can I really tell that I'd never eat avocado toast unless someone was watching?
The staycation reminded me of truths about myself. Even the most boring ones. I can spend long periods of time alone if I have windows and sunshine. But I like to see and be around people and love running into people, more than I like to schedule intentional time. (Is that even friendship?)
I care deeply about my kid’s schools and our city’s community and enjoy being part of the work that betters those places, even in really difficult seasons. Yes, I also confess I choose these meetings with agendas over anything that involves people just sharing feelings. (And, this while still being a Christian.)
The internet can suck my time away without filling me up like sunshine. (Some lessons may not have required a Staycation)
Also, while I'm reflecting: My voicemail is currently full or broken. It's been this way for months, I think. I did not use my Staycation to fix that or renew my Check Card. I'm bad at those things and I hate doing them. That may not change.
By the way, if you keep calling me from West Virginia, Kentucky, or Ocala, FL. I'm screening you because I don't think you're real.
When away on a vacation, who hasn't thought, "If I could just stay here, all would be well." Or after returning from travel, "When can we get back there and relax?!"
The ultimate gift of the Staycation was reframing my own home space for rest and joy. If all of that rest, relaxation, and delight happened right here in this location, I can make it happen again. It's easier to continue practices from a Staycation at home because home is where they originated.
Yes, there are usually other people around who play a part. But still. I have walked these streets and felt rest and sat in this chair by the window and been creative. If it's happened once here, I can figure out how to do it again.
Now, I know more about what I need and don't need. And while every day cannot hold vacation rhythms, I can incrementally build in self-care based around what I learned.
I can also repeat this Staycation model fairly easily, on a very low budget. So when I begin hiding in the bathroom again I know what to do. (And, at least now, that bathroom is a space I've come to love and enjoy.)