The Vacation Hangover

78 days down, 287 to go!

Dear Vacation,

I have a terrible case of missing you. In fact, I have the most wicked Vacation Hangover ever. I don’t want to do anything but stay in bed in the fetal position and hope I feel better, fast. My head is pounding with all I have to do. My stomach is nauseous from all the extra delicious food I ate. And while my mind is remembering what fun I had, it is also struggling knowing the hard work ahead of getting back into the swing of things again. Ugh.

See you sooner than later, I hope,
The Orange Rhino


I have a huge case of the Vacation Blues. Why? Because I finally feel like I had a vacation. Haven’t felt that way since oh, 2006 when my first son was born! I have spent (wasted?) the last 6 years of family vacations complaining that my vacations weren’t really vacations, that I still had to “work,” that vacations with kids are more work than not-vacationing. And well, yeah, they kind of are.

There is no denying that vacations as a young family are a heck of a lot of work.

All the planning that goes into finding a family friendly place. All the packing of the extra sets of clothes in case of accidents, the sippy cups and snack cups, the toys for the hotel room, the medicines. All the travel, the endless hours in a car listening to the questions “are we there yet? I’m hungry. I have to pee. He looked at me.” All the lost sleep from shorter or no naps, from going to bed late because of excitement and waking up early with the same excitement. All the parental exhaustion from kids being super-excited-over-the-top-hyper-happy from being somewhere new. All the tears about vacation ending followed by all the unpacking at home, All the re-entering back home, the repeat of all the tears.

Simply put, vacations with my young family are lots of extra hard work and NONE of the extra rest and relaxation one expects from vacation.

Sure, my vacations have felt like a break by offering new scenery and new things to do and sure they have created wonderful memories, but they haven’t seemed like a TRUE vacation. A much needed vacation. You know, one where I get to sleep in late, where I get to sit around and do nothing except maybe put my feet up while reading a magazine front to back (GASP!), one where I can come and go as I please with no, and I repeat NO time constraints.

Until now.

This past week, my vacation FINALLY felt like more than a break. It felt like a TRUE vacation. And it was great. Oh so amazing.

Here’s the best part. I had all 4 kids in tow. I didn’t sleep late, not even close. In fact, my baby had me up 4-5 times a night and my 5 year old had me up at 5 am every day. And I didn’t get to put my feet up accept if you count the time at the restaurant when somehow #3 snuck out of his seat and was crawling under the table, under my feet. But I DID (for the most part) have no time constraints. And that made it feel like a vacation.

Why? Because I FINALLY woke up/grew up/realized/learned from my Orange Rhino experience that I needed to change my expectations in order to enjoy my vacations.

And all I wanted from this vacation was a week free of constraints and full of uninterrupted family time. That to me would be rest and relaxation.

And I got it.

I got to hang out with my family free from phone calls, emails, texts. Free of my to-do list. Free of driving my kids everywhere, all day. No school schedule to follow, no enrichment class drop-offs and pick-ups, no therapy appointments. The only appointment I had was with my family. Just my hubby, my kids and me. Chilling.

My boys. All four little ones dressed in my favorite new color. Couldn't makes me happy and when I see it, it keeps me from yelling. Seriously!

And it was awesome.

Simply not being at the mercy of my 4 kids’ chauffer needs, not being stuck in my uber cool minivan was a vacation.  Not having to look at my to-do list because I promised myself I wouldn’t was a vacation. Having permission to eat out more and eat less healthy, was a vacation. Being able to sit outside and hear the ocean at nap time, even if it meant I was still tied to a nap schedule, felt like a vacation. Being able to spend more time with my baby because I didn’t have to take his older brothers everywhere, REALLY felt like a vacation.

And it was grand.

But now I am back.

And it is not so grand.

My to-do list multiplied. The kids don’t want to go to school. We all want to be eating junk food galore. And I don’t have any desire to get into my mini-van and drive anywhere. I feel massively overwhelmed. I’ve been “back” for 48+ hours and have nearly hyperventilated three to four times. I have sat and stared at my to-do list in a trance for at least a total of 48 minutes. This Vacation Hangover is the worse I have ever had (well, after my Honeymoon of course.) Because this vacation was so great. All because I changed my expectations.

Who knew that changing my Expectations could have such a powerful impact???
(Um, you did Orange Rhino. That is one of the first things you realized when learning to not yell. A lot of your expectations of your boys were too high. You set yourself up for disappointment in your kid’s behavior. You set yourself up to be frustrated…you set yourself up to yell. You have learned to chill out, to not necessarily lower, but to adjust your expectations, and wow what a difference.I think you subconsciously know this and adjusted vacation expectations accordingly. Another point for the O.R. Challenge benefits!)

But as great as this vacation was, this Hangover is not! It needs to take a hike. I can’t stay in bed and dream of being back on vacation. And I can’t keep walking around with this grudge on my shoulder that I am back because it is making me want to yell at Every. Single. Thing. My kids do.  And I can’t just take two advil and drink Gatorade to feel better.

I have to keep taking each day a moment at a time, I have to keep taking it slow, I have to keep taking deep breaths as needed and telling myself when overwhelmed “you can do this, you CAN do this” I have to keep doing what I do when trying not to yell. This has been immensely helpful these last two days let me tell you! It no doubt has kept me from having an absolute sob fest on the kitchen floor. Every hour.

It’s amazing. I set out on The Orange Rhino Challenge hoping to stop yelling. I never thought that in learning to not yell at my kids, that the skills I acquired would help me in the rest of my life, like learning how to FINALLY enjoy a family vacation and how to recover from a Vacation Hangover! Who would have thunk it? Not me. But I’ll take it.

P.S. You know what else is amazing? In changing my expectations I realized something cool. I don’t need to go anywhere to have a vacation. When I need some rest and relaxation, I am losing the keys to my mini-van for a day, turning off my phone and computer, and eating delicious junk food with my boys. Maybe I’ll even make frozen strawberry daiquiri’s (virgin of course) to share with them! 

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6 thoughts on “The Vacation Hangover

  1. Pingback: So I took a toddler and a 6 month old on a 14 hour drive… « Mommy Baby Spot

  2. Ugh, you have AMAZING timing! My SO and I are taking my 5 mos old and 3 yr old to Florida for a week in May (2 days in Disney). We’re driving (14++++ hours) and I’m super looking forward to it but only because I’m excited about showing SO somewhere he’d never been. Deep down I’m secretly dreading all the extra work (there’s even a washer and dryer in our condo…umm..oh boy yippee?) for me. SO is a huge help but I”m still MOM! But, you’re post has helped me realize I need to look at it from me having fun and me enjoying my family instead of just being tour guide and chaperone! (My birthday is while we’re down there too). I’ve decided to go ahead and ask to do something special for my birthday too (huge step for me!). So…thanks OR 🙂

  3. Oh crap…That is why this last vacation didn’t feel like vacation.  How do you change those expectations????  Because selfish ol’ me wanted “real” vacation with sitting around doing nothing but reading a book in the sun…and that is not what I will be getting to do…the next 20 years or so.

    • I was actually thinking of you the entire time I wrote this! There was so much more I wanted to say and I don’t love how this post came out but I am learning to change my expectations of myself 😉 I actually had an entire line about being selfish – about wanting to do what I wanted to do. And I took it out because I could write a book about that. The truth is you will get to read a book in the sun – the key is to plan to have grandma babysit and leave H at home OR go on vacation with plans for you to have an afternoon off and A to get the morning off. You don’t get the day as a family BUT you do each get some personal time 🙂 Forget half a day. Each take an hour 😉

  4. Orange Rhino – orange-wearing kids… I’m starting to see a connection 🙂

    I whine about needing a vacation after a vacation with my one kid. If you ask me your whining is very justified — and your whining is more like stating facts ….

    Excellent post.

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