That family vacation you’ve been planning for months has come to an end. There were great memories made, wonderful things seen, maybe even some lovely people met, or reconnected. Either way, you are back home safely after traveling with the family, what do you do now?
- Unpack those suitcases – It’s late, you’re tired, it’s been a long day of airports, car rides, plane changes, airport food, cranky kids, and spine compressing airplane seats. The last thing you want to do is unpack. That’s fine. No one is saying you need to get everything put away, but do take everything out. Chances are something is damp, or wet, otherwise getting grosser after marinating in that suitcase in the heat of the trunk, the frigid belly of the airplane, and then on the baggage carousel. Just pull out everything and put it in a pile; you can sort and put it away tomorrow, but air out those suitcases now.
- Copy those photos and videos to your computer – You took tons of family vacation photos. The pictures are great, the movies are wonderful, but their stuck on those tiny little memory cards. Your real life is coming back at full speed, and soon you’ll have full memory cards that you aren’t getting around to unloading. Instead, get them onto your computer right away. That way you won’t accidentally erase your kids swimming with dolphins in a month or two, when you are “sure” that you must have already unloaded those photos.
- Let them sleep – Time changes suck for everyone. They can be especially tricky for young children and even older kids. Don’t try and wake everyone up that first day in order to get them back on the normal time. Let them sleep in the first morning for a bit. Don’t let anyone get much past the 9:00 am hour (unless that’s normal) or they won’t sleep that night. It’s much easier to get younger kids back on schedule by skipping a nap, than by waking them early.
- Eat out one more time – It’s been a long trip. You’ve spent a lot of money and eaten a lot of restaurant food, and way too much junk food. Give yourself one more meal out. Go to that “go to” restaurant where everyone likes the food and atmosphere. It’s a good reminder that home has plenty of good times too, and it keeps tired parents from working in the kitchen right away. Your real life will wait for you to go back to frugal and healthy.
- Reminisce – Ask everyone what their favorite part of the trip was. Ask what the funniest thing was. Ask what their best meal was. Research shows that children who recall events soon after experiencing them remember them longer and form deeper attachments to them. There is no better way to ensure your child remembers Disneyland forever than by having them remember Disneyland right away. Plus, you get a chance to get into your kiddo’s head for a bit in a fun and interesting way.
- Take it easy – Everyone jams a full vacation into the space available. Even if you have to go back to work right away, or the kids have to go back to school right away, that doesn’t mean you have to fill up what free time you do have. Rent a movie, play a game, or let everyone hang out in their rooms. Decompressing is an important part of getting back into everything.
- Spouse, Wine, Porch – Family vacations usually mean non-stop family. Whether it’s visiting relatives, or just being in the same room with your kids for a whole week, connecting with your spouse or significant other one-on-one tends to fall off. That’s not a bad thing on vacation, but reconnecting is important too. Give yourself the day to recover and unpack. That night, put the kids to bed, pour a glass of wine, and sit out on the porch (or wherever you and your spouse go to hang out and talk together). Go back over the trip and remember all the good times. These are the good times, and they are turning into your good memories. Don’t miss them.
As you get back into your real life, keep remembering your vacation and talking about the good times. Be sure to stoke your kid’s interest in anything you discovered along the way. Did your son pick up an interest in dolphins? Was your daughter fascinated by American history? Hit the library, grab some books, buy related toys or games. Talk about it.
Relax. For most people, the saying that you need a vacation to recover from your vacation isn’t a joke. Getting all of Florida into 7 days takes a lot of work. Now, get back to the real world that you’ve spent a lifetime building. But, never forget this, and all of the other good times.