Vacation vibes: Keeping the buzz alive at home


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Amy Fenster Brown, Special to the Jewish Light

School is out! It’s officially summer! Time for a family vacation!

From Labor Day to Memorial Day, parents and kids look forward to this time of year. I bet that you, like me, look back fondly at memories of summer family vacations. Mine include a lot of road trips, when I would inevitably get car sick no matter how much Dramamine I took and always happened to turn toward my sister instead of the window to barf. Poor Susie.

Because we didn’t have cell phones and tablets to play on or watch movies, my family played alphabet or I Spy games using billboards as inspiration or we listened to the radio. Susie could read in the car without getting motion sickness, and I played a game called “how bored can you be” in which I watched Susie read.  And then I would get motion sickness.

I have vivid memories of these vacations:

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Washington, D.C., where Susie persuaded my parents to buy the rock opera “Tommy” by the Who on the hotel’s pay-per-view system, and I had a lot of questions.

New York City, where, in a cab headed to dinner, our cousin Sam saw the restaurant sign and screamed, “The Crab Shanty! That’s where my father belongs!”

New Orleans, where a cross-dressing convention was going on in our hotel and our parents had us watch the action, supposedly to teach us lessons in diversity and acceptance, or because they knew one day “RuPaul’s Drag Race” would be all the rage and wanted us to be on the cutting edge.

As a kid, you love vacation, enjoy the rest of the summer and then head back to school. As an adult, you love vacation and then head right back to work to earn more money and time off for the next vacation.

When I travel, I am in a relaxed state of bliss and a blissful state of relaxation. It’s a great feeling. I am having such a good time, experiencing zero stress or chores or commitments, that I have to remember — actually stop and remember — that this isn’t reality. It’s a well-deserved break from reality. And I want that feeling to continue.

When I have downtime on vacation, I enjoy my mind wandering freely. I think about all the ways I could accomplish tasks and relax at home. I make big plans about ways to incorporate those vacation vibes into my real life. Yet, somehow, as soon as the plane lands, I start thinking about which days I’ll be doing laundry and cooking dinner. I go back to my reality of using the panic of not getting through my to-do list to fuel my day.

Kind of like people in relationships have to work a bit to keep the romance alive, people at home can work to keep their vacation buzz alive. Easier said than done. I can’t exactly sleep late every day and go to a restaurant for every meal. What I can do is figure out ways to incorporate small doses of it. I love walking around a resort property and looking at the plants and scenery. I could easily go somewhere like Missouri Botanical Garden for a walk. Making the time to actually do that is a different story.

What’s something you do on vacation that you can add into your regular life?  If it’s having alone time with your spouse, plan a couple of date nights in advance. If it’s taking a break from cooking and washing dishes, remind yourself that having your family eat cereal from Styrofoam bowls for dinner is totally fine. It’s what my mother-in-law refers to as her secret recipe: “I hand pour the milk!” she says.

At home, I take on too many tasks. On vacation I take on none.  Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot that could keep my vacation vibes alive, albeit modified.

I’ll put that on my to-do list.

Monthly columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.