Monday, March 17, 2014

Vacations: Anticipation & How I Enjoy Them More Now That I Have Kids

My husband and I just got back from five glorious days at an all-inclusive resort in Dominican Republic.  We planned this trip back in July of last year, to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary.  We are not typically a very plan-ful pair, but we decided to plan this trip far in advance for two reasons. 
First, the deals on rooms and flights are typically better the further out you make reservations.  So, we saved some money, I think. But the second reason was a bit more cerebral, and it had to do with this NYT article I read a few years ago.  Basically, the article highlights a study done on the effects of vacations on overall happiness.  "The study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation...the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks."
2 people who much-anticipated the vacation, but maybe not the severity of the DR sun...

The lead author of the study, Dr. Jeroen Nawijn, says  “The practical lesson for an individual is that you derive most of your happiness from anticipating the holiday trip,” so anticipate the heck out of it!

An article I read last week by Mark Bittman, (of whom I am a big fan), highlighted another awesome aspect of our trip that got me thinking about how I appreciate vacations differently now that I'm a mom.  Bittman was speaking specifically about his love for cruises, (as unhip as they may be), but his words ring true for any vacation: "it’s a life that is free of most of life’s normal chores: cooking, cleaning, commuting (can you imagine not driving or taking the subway, for a week or two on end?), working (unless you work independently), even talking on the phone — because at $3 or more per minute you’re not going to be taking any calls from your mother. In my life, this feels like an extra five hours a day.These are hours spent staring at passing islands or shorelines, wildlife, the sky and sea." 

parting beers in the Punta Cana airport

While in DR, our biggest decisions each day were when to eat, where to eat, what to drink, and when to sleep.  The banality of that is so much more exciting when you're a parent. Don't get me wrong, I missed the hell out of my babies and couldn't wait to get my hands on them after five days away.  But for that five days, I did not miss wiping bottoms, making meals, cleaning messes, and waking at ungodly hours.  I really didn't.  I finished three books, took four naps, slept as late as I wanted everyday- (my 20-year-old self would hardly recognize the me who thinks 8 AM is a beautiful hour to wake),- and did not prepare a meal the whole time I was gone. It was perfect.

I am thankful and lucky to have had the means and support from our parents to take such a trip and know that our babies were well-taken care of.  Now, to plan the next far-off trip...

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