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Sunday, August 16, 2015

up ta camp - why you should take a vacation JUST your family!

My husband surprised us with a week at a camp on a beautiful lake in Maine!

Surprise because he planned the entire thing. He coordinated it, traded some work for a great deal on a vacation we otherwise NEVER could have afforded, grocery shopped, picked up new tubes and swim gear, and even planned out dinner each night - and cooked EVERY meal!

Huge surprise, SO lucky!

We had the best time just swimming, eating, relaxing, napping, reading, and being together, laughing above all else. It was a blast!

Our kids' swim lessons from the winter really paid off at this lake ... jumping into the water was their favorite part of the week!

The kicker about this vacation: My husband said it was ALL about our family of four. Nobody else was invited. The whole week, just us (except one night with his parents, as they are going through a tough health situation right now and we wanted some time with them). A week of no friends, no family, no cousins (there are tons of them and it's super fun when they get together!), nobody. Just us. He was adamant that it was only to be us, no inviting anyone else.

I kinda thought it was rude. A little strange. We come from a huge family on both sides (me the oldest on my side of four kids, and he the youngest of four on his side, with many nieces and nephews). I thought it was so weird to consider not enjoying the lake with our friends and family. My husband said he just wanted something that was only us. We love our big family, but sometimes it's nice to JUST be you, in your own little world.

So we did. We embarked on 5 days of just us, doing whatever we wanted, eating when and whatever we wanted, and swimming until our hearts were content.

We aren't a big TV watching family. My husband and I watch a show or two at night on Netflix when the kids are asleep, and the kids watch a show in the morning when they wake, but beyond that we're not really into TV. Our kids are super active and instead like to build and create. So going TV-less was nothing new to us... yet being at a camp where you cannot turn a TV on in the morning to make breakfast or clean up... that was interesting! Our kids made up all kinds of cool games... like a farm and building for their tractors out of dominoes! I intend to buy them dominoes for Christmas now that I saw them be so creative with them!

We read a lot. We laughed, snuggled, played trucks on the ground, and stared at the lake. We sat on the deck and talked about the birds, trees and how to make smores. 

We fished. And fished. And then got bored of fishing so then we swam and ate.

We made a camp fire at 5 p.m. because that's just what we wanted to do.

We ate dinner at 6 p.m. one night and 4:40 p.m. another night. We ate dessert first another night. We finished dessert the next morning. We napped every day because the kids were so exhausted from their fun swimming adventures. We kayaked and jumped in and sat in chairs reading some more.

We were lazy.

I didn't wear makeup one single day at camp. Not once. Do you know how liberating that is?! Amazing.

We stayed in pajamas when we went down to the dock to greet the lake in the morning and go fishing. Who cares, we thought, nobody's here but US!

We did our thing. It was awesome.

We made elaborate breakfasts.

My husband made incredible dinners.

We ate every single meal out on the deck except maybe one when it was raining.

Being outside so much... how freeing, it was invigorating. Maine is so beautiful. We are fortunate to live here.

We used real dishes, too. We set the table nicely instead of quickly putting meals on the table to quickly wolf down. We weren't rushed. We leisurely enjoyed ourselves.

When is the last meal you leisurely enjoyed WITH KIDS?!

Vacation will do that for you. So nice.

When we were tired, we took it back a notch. We relaxed. We snuggled them.

We were totally focused on ourselves and one another.

How often are we totally focused at home?! Amidst laundry and dishes and MESSES?!

If you only go on vacation for one reason, go for THIS reason: to let the rest of it go! To ignore it. To focus on your family.

We had an outdoor movie! It was the BEST part of the week!

We watched our children grow before our eyes. Literally.

How wonderful to slow down and really listen and really see them.

We each spent one-on-one time with each child, multiple times in the week. My daughter and I took off to the local book store one morning, while my husband and son went fishing. My husband took my daughter kayaking while my son and I had a snack. It was awesome.

Of course we try doing that at home... but life gets in the way and it happens maybe once a month. At camp, it happened almost daily.

Did I share with you that we ATE?!

We ate so well. We made all of our favorites - my homemade potato salad was at the top of my list. I never make this at home, yet it took me like 25 minutes to whip up and everyone loved it.

Note to self: cook more potato salad at home!

The kids bonded. Like really bonded, even more than they already had all these years.

They had so much fun with just each other.

Sure, there was bickering, but they also laughed so hard they were out of breath. Love that.

We lived in bathing suits, so minimal laundry. We took a zillion pictures, and then other times there were no cameras or phones, we just were enjoying the lake and kayaking together. It was so wonderful.

I highly recommend taking a vacation JUST your family. It's on our list now to do a small vacation every single year. We can't believe we waited all these years to do this (this was our kids' first vacation. We've gone places for long weekends, but always with other family, this was the first real vacation. So fun!).

There's just something to be said for being 100% focused on your family, the ones who matter most. For listening to what they want instead of what the others want. For doing what makes you happy instead of pleasing others. Doing things with others is fantastic, we don't want to be anti-social, right?! But your family is #1, so make sure you take time out to be together. To talk about what's important. To laugh and be silly.

Happy vacationing, moms!

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