Do This One Thing After a Vacation

We sometimes feel lazy when we are not being productive in some way. We self-critique that we could be doing more: more journaling, more cleaning, more problem-solving.

We felt especially out of rhythm after a recent family getaway. We hadn’t been journaling regularly or trying to solve any of our myriad problems. How could we get back on task after so much down time?


The solution came from free-writing in our journal. The questions posed were simple and profound:

While experiencing a completely different routine on vacation, (1) which of our regular activities did we miss, and which were we glad to have a break from? (2) What background soundtrack from our lives did we miss, and which were we grateful to have a break from? (3) And what actions can we take to better live a meaningful life in accordance with our values?

1. Glad/Sad Regular Activities List: We were glad to have a break from routine chores while on vacation. We did not miss cooking, doing laundry, and washing dishes.

We were sad to have a break from our therapists and time spent overtly healing. We also missed our alone time during which we could read, write, and do art.

2. Glad/Sad Background List: We do not watch much television or movies, and we were glad that no one turned on a television or watched a movie in our confined space. We were glad not to nag the children about getting ready for school, and we did notice we nagged them to get ready for breakfast nearly every day of the vacation. We were surprised to reach the end of most days with our phone still at 80% battery or more because we rarely checked it (and did not use a computer).

We missed the markers that help keep us anchored to our space and time: familiar ticking of the living room clock, comfort of our own bed and linens, the familiarity of our neighborhood.

3. Action List to Live Out Our Values: The first thing we did on the first morning back home was make pancakes for everyone. Cooking fits with our values of eating healthfully and nurturing our loved ones. We also washed three loads of laundry and a load of dishes because being tidy and hygienic are valued. We plan to keep our therapy appointments because we value self-improvement.

Surprisingly, after the vacation, we are using our alone time in a more balanced manner–allowing for recreational distractions, such as watching the NCAA men’s and women’s Final Four basketball games–because the vacation showed us that taking a break is not lazy. Being purposeful and focused are values. When we choose to engage in an activity, we can enjoy it more. When we do one thing at a time–just watch the basketball game, then just fold laundry, then just write this post–then we feel “in the moment,” and being present is perhaps the greatest value (and hardest challenge) in our life.

We will ask the children to do something one time. If they forget, we will remind them. After that, we will not nag. We practiced this today, and one of our children remembered the task we last mentioned four hours ago! This helps build trust, and we value teaching our children to be responsible.

We turned off all “push” notifications from this site because we determined we are not writing this for likes and badges. We are writing this to help ourselves heal from our trauma and related disorders. Helping others in the process also fits with our values.

After your next vacation or disruption in routine, try to look back and determine which of your regular activities you missed and didn’t miss; what background soundtrack from your life you missed and didn’t miss; and what actions you can take to live a more meaningful life in accordance with your values.


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