Adulting is hard. I’d venture a guess that most adults would tend to agree with me. Almost two decades in, I have adjusted to this whole “being an adult” thing, but it doesn’t mean that the difficulties that accompany adulthood don’t continue to take their toll. The stresses that come with work, family and life in general still happen, as they always will. Getting a break from adulting is difficult, but something that is certainly necessary. Enter the concept of friend vacations.
Vacationing is fun. It’s an opportunity to take some time off from the everyday and do something different. When you have kids, family vacations are often where you focus that time, toting your kids along to give them a break from real life, too. I hate to say it, but family vacations are not relaxing. In fact, family vacations, for me, are more work than not vacationing at all. For me, family vacation preparations mean extra laundry and cleaning so everything can be ready to be packed and so my house doesn’t stink like the leftovers that were left in the fridge for a week. I also have to pack for everyone, because even though the kids try, they will absolutely forget something (or multiple somethings) if I don’t go through and ensure they have what they need. Even with that, it is inevitable that something will get forgotten that requires a stop somewhere to purchase said forgotten item. Then there is the travel itself … oof. I’ll just leave it at that, trusting that if you have kids, you know what I mean. Once you reach your destination the fun should begin, right? Eh, maybe. Between keeping track of the kids, finding everything they have misplaced, figuring out where the next meal will come from, trying to stay within the budget and trying to make sure everyone else is having fun … you might have time to do something you enjoy, maybe, if time allows.
Friend vacations, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to shed the responsibility of caring for your small humans and gives you a chance to fully disengage from daily responsibilities and exhale. I never really understood the benefit of friend vacations until I went on one.
My first, and so far only, friend vacation was to Sedona, Arizona. I’ve seen it referred to as “Disneyland for outdoorsy adults,” and really, that is a pretty accurate depiction. Surrounded by beautiful red sandstone formations, hikers and rock climbing enthusiasts flock to the area. Our little group did some hiking and we thoroughly enjoyed taking in the scenery, taking our time to explore various trails, national parks and tourist attractions.
I’ll be honest, not having to corral kids constantly was almost a vacation in itself. Not only was I able to forget the responsibilities of work for a while, I was able to focus on what I needed to recharge: rest, relaxation and experiencing somewhere new without having to include 17 bathroom breaks and the McDonald’s drive-thru amidst complaints that the kids are bored. Having that experience with friends who are handling the same types of stressors each day, allowed me to feel like my feelings about it all were valid, helped to alleviate the guilt that I felt for going and having fun without the kids. Most of all, it allowed me to miss the kids and look forward to getting back to them, having enjoyed my vacation and giving me the break that I needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids; I missed the kids; I wished the kids were with us on multiple occasions; but I also know that if we would have had the kids along, my experience would have left me more exhausted than I was when vacation began instead of recharged, relaxed and ready to get back to my life of adulting. I love my life and my job and my family, but everyone needs a break from time to time. Taking that break with friends who can relate is an experience that only helps your outlook. I would strongly suggest adding friend vacations to something you do on a fairly regular basis. After all, missing your kids only makes you appreciate them more.
Heather Kantrud is the Lifestyle reporter for the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.