Summer is more than half way finished now. I am just at the start of my summer vacation; something I have been looking towards for quite a few weeks now. We all need downtime. Vacation doesn’t need to be the great family cross country adventure, although sometimes they are wonderful too. We did the big vacation last year, and my boys still tell me it was the best vacation and greatest memory of their lives to date.
This year, it is more relaxed. Spending time at home, exploring things to do in the neighbouring cities and here in our own, day trips to other locations, kayaking on the river and lakes, and the oh-so North American camping trip. I know that many things will likely slip away in favour of simple relaxation, and I am ok with that. More than ok, truth be told. Holidays are meant for relaxation and recharging. To let your mind be free is a truly precious thing. It has already boosted my creativity and given me encouragement to continue on with projects that have been waiting on the sidelines to carry forward. I still wake early and have the house to myself for hours before my young adolescents finally make their way from their beds in search of food. This gives me time to write or develop my upcoming website, purge unnecessary items that seem to find their way into our lives and weigh us down, or sit and be still, enjoying the fruits that meditation brings.
Whatever it is that summer vacation brings for you, be sure to keep a bank of memories from it. As I have said before, we only have 18 summers. Make memories before they are grown. Give your children the gift of fond childhood memories to look back on when they are grown up.
Vacations are wonderful. You plan and prepare for the trip, decide which sights you want to see and when. You plan every day to be a full as possible so you can fit everything in to your limited time, because if you don’t, you won’t have a chance to do all the things you wanted to do.
But during that vacation away, did you think to take a day to just relax? Maybe sleep in a little, or spend a lazy day exploring the forests or the beaches?
These vacation days create a lot of memories too. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe they create more memories than running from the art gallery to the science centre then to the zoo…you get the idea.
We did all of the planning. I had every day scheduled with where to go and what to see. In the end, what my children wanted to do won out. We peeled away one activity for another. We didn’t do all the things we had planned. We spent way more time sitting on the beach watching sunsets and looking for crabs instead of going to the sights that we had on the schedule. We took a morning and strolled through a forest and created a fairy home at the base of a giant redwood tree.
We created memories.
Yes, we did a lot of the scheduled stuff and hit the highlights. But in retrospect, the highlights really were about exploring nature that was new to them. About seeing the glimmer in their eyes as they discovered something they had never seen before. It was about their pure excitement and joy the first time they dipped their toes in the salty ocean water.
These are the things that will create the memories that they will remember for a lifetime.
I value quality time with those I love. Spending time together is worth more than any store bought gift, in my opinion.
This weekend was one of those weekends where we didn’t have anything pressing to do. Being a long weekend on top of it, we decided rather last minute to take a trip to the zoo. Since it is a three hour drive each way, we made sure to get up nice and early. We packed up the cameras, water bottles and music for the drive and away we went. We always stop for coffee and breakfast before leaving town. It’s just what we do. The kids eat while I drive, and I have my caffeine fix. Sometimes they fall asleep on the drive, sometimes we all sing along to whatever song is playing. Sometimes they read. It’s always enjoyable no matter what.
I’ve come to crave these little day trips. The adventure of getting away, of taking a trip unplanned. Just drop everything and go. Sometimes these are solo trips if the kids are not home that week, but I love the ones where they come along the most. It’s good quality time well spent. On top of that, my eldest had a chance to continue developing his photography skills in a different setting. He’s getting very good at it, and I am very proud of him. But there’s something to be said for getting away from home for just a little while. A change of scenery. A little excitement. Spending time outdoors, and believe me, we were out there walking around and enjoying the sun and the setting for a good five hours at least. These are the little things that they will remember as they grow into adults. These are the things I will remember as they grow up and move on to live their own lives. I will know that they will have those happy memories to draw upon. They will have that influence for how they might like to live their lives, and should they have children, to do what they enjoyed as kids for their own.
Quality time. I read somewhere that you have 18 summers with your children before they are grown. This is what I’m doing with my 18.