You Can Have Fun on Vacation—I give you permission

Years ago, my wise sister-in-law introduced me to the difference between a trip and a vacation. A trip is with kids, a vacation is without. Mind blown.

Why, you may ask? Because a vacation is supposed to be relaxing, rejuvenating and fun but when you have kids along, it can kind of feel like you are just doing the same day to day routine, in a new location, with added stress. Not relaxing, not fun, so not a vacation. 

But have you ever come back from a vacation feeling even more tired than you were when you left? Yeah me too. Thus the cliche “I need a vacation from my vacation” was born. 

So how do we change it? Or are we doomed to a lifetime of trips and vacations that are fun to show on Instagram, but don’t really give us that sense of relief from the normal mundane? I don’t think we are. With a few mindset shifts, I have found that trips and vacations can be fun, even restful. And we can come back ready tackle all the things.


  1. Clean up your normal

We often cringe when we come home from a vacation because we don’t want to go back to real life. Our normal is a state that seems overwhelming and dull, so of course we are going to feel overwhelmed and dull at the prospect of reentry. 

So how do we clean up normal? It’s not glamorous.

Before you leave on your vacation, fix some of the things that you are trying to escape from. 

You don’t have to tackle them all, but looking at it and taking care of some will leave you feeling lighter coming home. 

This is going to require some honesty as you look at the things you are trying to escape. We all have them. 

Maybe you have some projects that you have let pile up that you would just like to pretend aren’t there. Pick one and get it done before you leave. You will thank yourself later. 

We are trying to create a normal, everyday life that you don’t feel like you need to escape from. When you do, your vacation is like the sprinkles on top of an already delicious ice cream sundae. And when you don’t, it’s like trying to be satisfied with a dessert made of nothing but sprinkles. Gross.

  1. Clean up your expectations

What are you hoping to accomplish with the vacation? Are you looking for it to fix something in your marriage? Solve all your stress? You might be suffering from some unrealistic expectations. 

The truth is, a vacation can make the problem worse if you go in expecting it to fix all, or any, of your problems. That’s not what vacations are for. And so now you are feeling bad because the vacation isn’t meeting your expectations and you are beating yourself up for not being the kind of person who can have relaxing vacations. Sound familiar?

Vacation are going to always be 50% positive and 50% negative. And that is totally normal. Fighting against that reality will only cause more pain. So don’t go into vacation expecting it to be 90% wonderful and 10% slightly less wonderful. 

And believing that before you even get to the destination is only going to set you up for failure. So practice letting go of the perfectionistic ideas of vacation and let it be 50/50.

  1. Let your family be your family

We went to Utah last year for a family reunion with my side of the family. On the drive there, I practically required a blood oath from each of my kids, making them promise me that they would be on their best behavior. 

And guess what happened as soon as they saw their cousins? Total mayhem. Good behavior was thrown out the window so fast, I was spinning. 

Why did I expect that just because we were surrounded by my family that my kids would changer personalities? That they would suddenly become perfectly well behaved kids who never talk back, tease each other, or burp? They have never been those kids before, so why would they start now? 

They won’t. So I decided to just let my family be exactly who my family is. A trio of loud boys who love playing with their boy cousins and a little girl who sometimes gets really dramatic and loves finally having a girl cousin to play with. 

I learned that there is beauty in just being us, even when it isn’t perfect. 

And there is beauty in vacations when we don’t expect them to be perfect too. 

When you do, you open yourself to all of the fun in the world. And you allow yourself to feel peace, rested and connected to your family, no matter where you are. So you might as well be someplace fun!

If you’d like help figuring this out for your family, I can help. Click below to set up a free call where we can set you up for success on your next family vacation.