For the first time since we became “we”, my little family took a trip together last week. Just the four of us.
It was heavenly.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being around people. Load me up with my husband’s family and I’m a happy girl. Surround me with friends, and I’m floating on a cloud.
However, as we move into the next phase, when our girls are about to become more independent, and less impressed with us, this was a much-needed vacation.
After years of planning, and saving, we entered the world of millions of others, and made the trip to Orlando. We split our time between Universal and Disney. My husband and I have plenty of opinions on both places, and maybe I’ll write a blog about the differences, but today I want to focus on the one huge benefit of this trip.
The four of us spent 24/8 (yes, 8 days!) together. I will not sugar coat it and say it was all peaches and cream… I mean on the first day at Universal, the girls were already complaining about being tired and bored, as we got ready to go to the bus for our first visit to the theme park. If we were starting out that way: LOOK OUT! However, things turned around quickly, the minute we entered Harry Potter’s world. For most of our week, we laughed, we played, and we shared new experiences together.
While I can definitely put a price tag on this monster of a trip, and I would rather forget about the savings that are gone, I can’t put one on the memories we created.
I am sure all of you can relate: the time we spend together at home is full of distractions. Work, cleaning, pets, socks on the floor…. the list continues. Life tends to feel full and tasks seem so important, more so than spending time playing together. If we don’t remove ourselves from our daily life, we can easily forget to spend quality time together.
Don’t get me wrong. We try our best. We almost always eat dinner together. There is an occasional night when my husband doesn’t make it home early enough, but for the most part the four of us eat that meal together. Also, my husband or I read to the girls just about every night. The exception is when it’s so late or the girls fall asleep before we can. Sometimes I will begin to read and fall asleep mid-sentence, but I count that as a night of reading.
However, those moments have become so routine, and they are not representative of the kind of time that can really bond parents to children who are growing older.
I didn’t realize that until we took the vacation together last week. I look back now and realize we laughed a lot. We teased each other often. We tackled sore feet and backs and exhaustion as a team that was determined to see everything. My husband and I said “yes” to swimming when we’d rather collapse on the beds in exhaustion. My husband dealt with a work task hanging over his head all week, and always chose time with us first.
More importantly, we built memories. We added to our foundation, and sparked a new appreciation of each other. I won’t forget the times the girls hugged on me and said they loved me. They chose times when we were all sweaty, and the slightest touch sent my muscles into spasms, but still… they love me!
Now we are back in our old routine. Up early, getting ready and trying to get enough breakfast in them before school starts. Packing lunches that don’t leave them starving by 2pm, and making sure they have everything they need before they run out the door have replaced putting water bottles into backpacks before boarding a bus to an amusement park.
Last week made me want to breathe more fun into our daily routines. I want to play more as a family unit. I am struggling with how we will be able to accomplish this, but I feel like it must be a priority. We have 7 years with one and 9 with the other. That is less time than we’ve had with them so far.
While all the other daily tasks are important, and we need to educate them on all things being adult, I don’t want to forget that laughter is an important part of life as well. Let’s see how we do. I hope it’s not like those retreats people go to aimed at making life changes and then they get home just to settle into daily life again.
Before we know it, Jason and I will have an empty nest, and have plenty of time to clean out the attic. Who am I kidding? I need to clean the house first.
But for now… let’s play!