How does your family define a “vacation?”

Jan Kwiatkowski, LMFT, is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee, WI.

Going on vacation.
Getting away.
Taking time off.
Sneaking off for a long weekend.

This is the time of year when we hear these phrases fairly often. Vacation is defined as “refreshment of one’s body, mind and spirit after working through activity that amuses or stimulates.”

It seems like everywhere I go someone is either getting ready for a family vacation or just getting home from a family vacation.  And people are either looking forward to or dreading family vacation time. I wonder if the language we use around vacations has something to do with this, as well as our expectations of our vacation time.

In our culture, vacation time is something that has to be “earned” and “taken.”  It can be lost for a variety of reasons and depending on employment circumstance families can go years without vacation time. We even hear adults saying that they are going to “sneak away” for some time off, as if it is something to feel guilty about. It’s like a commodity we can’t waste because it’s so precious that we have to “take” it, “sneak” it, “use it or lose it”.

No wonder, we put so much into this precious 1 or 2 weeks, or whatever time we have. If it turns out that our vacation is less than ideal for whatever reason, then it’s like we’ve just thrown away a rare and precious gift.

Vacations are times when we try to gift ourselves and our families with activities that will create special memories and stories that will be told for years. Vacations are times when we try to recreate bonds that may have frayed a bit during the non-vacation rest of the year. Vacations are also times when families can hope they can forget the rest of the daily life year for just a while. Again, no wonder we put some much into our vacations.

I wonder what family vacations would be like if we didn’t “take” them, “sneak away” for them, or weren’t afraid of “losing” them.

What if we were just “on” vacation? Is there a difference between “taking” a vacation and being “on” vacation? How or would your family vacation be different (or not)?

What is your favorite family vacation moment that told you and your family, that you were being refreshed in body, mind and spirit?  I will look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again. We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services.  For more information, visit our website, follow us onFacebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.

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