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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

live like everyday is a vacation

After returning from a weekend beach trip, I am relaxed,  invigorated and motivated to recommit to some lifestyle changes. 

I have been reading about the notion of "entrainment" in Stephan Rechtschaffen's book Time Shifting.  Rechtschaffen writes that entrainment "is the process by which the rhythms (of the world) fall into synchronization with each other." 

So basically, your body and mind reflect the rhythms of your environment. I believe that without a doubt. As a wife, mom, individual, microbusiness owner, community member, homeschooler and any other myriad of titles you can imagine - I regularly feel my mind seize up like a motor with gunky oil as it is fragmented, scattered and unable to focus. 

It is when I am camping, hiking or especially at the ocean that I literally feel my body reset itself, or entrain to a more relaxed state. 

Hearing the trees blow, or the ocean crash it languid breaths upon the shore while I sleep, re-establishes my natural rhythm.

At the beach, with sparklers and shooting stars illuminating the night air, I wonder, how can I have more of this calm for my family? Can we achieve a more balanced and fun life without having to leave home and enter "vacationland?"

Seth Godin writes, "Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don't need to escape from." 


 I drink the Koolaid that he is serving whole-heartedly. In many ways my family works to create our life, not just fall into expected norms. But still, the basic maintenance of life takes its toll. 

So, with Godin's quote in mind, I brainstormed three ideas that might help us stay on track.

1. Decommission treasures (doesn't that sound better than "decluttering"?).  Get rid of stuff, then get rid of more stuff - even if it means just packing some of it up for the time being. One of the best things about vacation is that we have so many fewer items to take care of - so we have MORE TIME. More time to interact, be creative, and even get bored.  
I have experienced the phenomenon of less many times in my travels, both by myself as a young adult and with my kids. In my early twenties, while traveling overseas,  the thing that shook me was not cultural shock, but how my American self had learned to identify so strongly with things. The house I lived in, the CD's on my shelf and the art work on my walls, all gave out information about who I was and what was important to me. I am not suggesting not enjoying stuff, but stripped of mine, my "self" had to fit into luggage that I could literally carry myself. It was liberating and scary to depend on my mind and personality to build relationships.
Similarly, I have been stuck in small hotels in different countries with 3 kids, a handful of books, no tv or internet, some journals and colored pencils and maybe some recyclables. Guess what? We had a great time and learned to create, play and invent our fun out of limited resources.
I will donate more, give away more, pack up more, and live with less. Because, when I live with less, I have more of my life to live. 

2. Conquer the food beast. Food is such a big part of our lives; we have kids in our house all day and both my husband and I love to cook and eat. So, at any given time we are cooking, loudly proclaiming our hunger, eating, cleaning up, or making the perpetual grocery list. 

The meal planning that we do before leaving for a camping trip or a rented apartment somewhere makes eating simple and easy. So, I will meal plan, but not elaborately. I will pretend like I am on vacation and need quick, healthy, basic meals. Breakfasts of granola and yogurt or scrambled eggs, power kids up and are easy to do. Bowls of fruit, hummus, premade bean/rice/quinoa salads can be prepared every few days in the evening and used as lunches and snacks. And for dinners, we have a pretty good schedule that I will share in a later blog post. Just a bit more planning completely changes this area of our life.

3. Play hard, be present, sleep great. Maybe it is just me, but generally, I seem to engage with my kids in fun more when we are on a holiday. I am more likely to fly a kite, play a board game or just act silly when I am freed from all the roles and responsibilities of home. 

At home, I have a hard time moving away from the busyness of cleaning, computer, homeschooling, computer, food prep, computer, and always planning for the next thing. Playing more would help in the most important aspect of this step - being present. To play well, you really have to be present and in the moment. I feel like this area might be especially difficult for stay at home moms and certainly homeschooling moms. We are with our kids all day, but that does not always mean we are connected at all. Just as we are busy, we keep them busy. And so we are all swirling around in our self-created twisters of activity. The organic flow of the day does not usually move us towards play, so I am going to schedule it everyday. As in, I will write it on my calendar. It will be an appointment for fun that we will stick to just like a doctor's appointment. During that time, I will be present and will not have any distractions.
When my kids play hard and have real connection with me (and their dad) during the day, they sleep more soundly and feel more secure at night. So, another added benefit to switching to everyday vacation mode - is better sleep and health, for all of us.

*** bonus idea***
Think about your very favorite parts of vacation (great linens, trashy novels, cold ac, watching tv in bed, going for ice cream while wearing flip flops...) and incorporate them into your life on a more regular basis, while "pretending" you are on a holiday. This step is important! The pretending will recreate the feeling, I promise!


  1. I LOVE THIS POST! Thank you for sharing it, Amy. I've been paying attention to my physical space a lot these days - especially how our space is a reflection of our inner world. The more I've reduced physical clutter I see how it is related to my mental clutter. I SO love the idea of living like I'm on vacation every day which in my mind is finding and embracing the JOY in the present moment! YES. xo

  2. Thanks for this great post!
    To make your day special with kids on a very normal day is something I also love to do from time to time. I call this game: "I surprise myself".

  3. Thanks for your great post!
    I also try, from time to time, to do special activities with my kids on a very normal day. Just to celebrate the day. I call this game: "I surprise myself".

  4. I LOVE this post as well! From the simple and healthy meals and time spent playing right down to wonderful, clean linens...yes! Going to start thinking this way.


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