Do you ever come back from a vacation and then within a day or two you feel like you were never away? It's hard to come back to mountains of laundry, piles of mail, an overflowing email inbox, and then have to hit the ground running at school and work.
Is there a way to avoid this? To keep those refreshed feelings last more than a couple of hours?
I'm not always the best at this, but over the years I've tried several things to help make the transition from vacation to daily life easier. I hope they help you too!
1. Unpack from your vacation as quickly as possible
This is important. As soon as you walk in the door... even if you're exhausted... at least put your suitcases, bags, etc. in the rooms they need to go to be unpacked. There's nothing more overwhelming than tripping over the suitcases you dropped by the front door when you're trying to get out the door the next morning! Or having to dig through your bags for something you need. Try to unpack your suitcases as quickly as you can so your home can get back to "normal" quickly.
2. Have your kids help unpack
Unless they are really young, there's no reason your kids can't help with the unpacking process. They can put their dirty laundry in the hamper, put toys, books, or stuffed animals back where they belong, and unpack clean socks and underwear. Older kids can put away the rest of their clean clothing as well. The whole family enjoyed the time away together, and the whole family can work together as a team to unpack. Every little bit helps!
3. Plan ahead before your vacation
Before you leave, spend some time preparing ahead for the first few days you'll be home. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Plan a simple menu and make sure you have the ingredients in the house so you don't have to run out grocery shopping when you get back
- If you're going to be away for a long time, leave some money with a friend or neighbour and ask them to buy you some milk, bread, fruit, etc.
- Do a load or two of laundry before you leave so you have some clean clothes ready to wear when you come home without having to do laundry right away
- Ask whoever is taking care of your home to recycle (or at least set aside) all the flyers, junk mail, newspapers, etc. so you are not overwhelmed with huge stacks of paper when you get back
- Clean your house before you go, put clean sheets on the beds, and fresh towels in the bathrooms. Yes, I know it's tough when you're busy packing, and I honestly don't get this one done nearly as often as I'd like, but it really helps you feel more refreshed when you come home to sleep in clean sheets, shower with fresh towels, and not have a ton of cleaning tasks on your to-do list right away! Especially if you were pampered while you were away :)
4. Get enough sleep your first night home
This may depend on what time you arrive home, but if you have control over your travel plans, try to arrange it that you can have a few hours at home in the evening so you can unpack (see #1 above) and then get to bed at a decent hour. That way you don't undo all the relaxing from your vacation! It's tough to stay refreshed if you're heading back to work tired. You can even try to take an extra day or half day off so you don't have to rush as much or jump back into life too quickly.
5. If your kids have homework assigned during your vacation, try to have them work on it before you leave
If that's not possible, maybe they can do a little bit at a time during your holiday if possible. That way they don't have to catch up when you get home. It's hard enough to go back to school after a vacation :)
6. Don't plan a lot of activities the first few days back
This way you can have time to get used to everyday life again! You can't always control your schedule, but wherever possible, don't book anything for the first week back that you don't need to do right away. Ease back in to your daily routines the first few days and then you can deal with other activities and appointments after that.
7. Don't read all your emails right away.
I know that sounds crazy, but you'll get bogged down and spend way too much time reading emails that way. Sort your emails by sender and delete as many as you can. Then only read the most important ones and save rest of later in the week. Set a time limit too and when it's over, walk away until the next time you set aside for dealing with emails. You'll be able to get through them quicker and not feel as overwhelmed.
8. Talk about your trip!!
It's easy to get caught up in everyday life and forget what happened while you were away. If you talk about your trip and remember those good times it will help keep that "vacation feeling" alive. Share stories and pictures with friends, family, and colleagues. Find special places for the souvenirs you brought back. And start planning for your next trip while you're at it :)
So how am I doing after our vacation?
We've been back for a week and a half and we followed most of these tips. It wasn't a very relaxing vacation (if you've been to Disney World you know what I mean!), so I can't really comment on how relaxed I feel. But I didn't feel too overwhelmed last week, despite the fact that it's been a really busy time! Last week we helped my parents move out of their home after 43 years and settle into their new condo. Plus I spent time preparing for my Trained Professional Organizer exam that I wrote this past weekend.
But we have definitely been doing lots of #8! We had an amazing time at Disney and love talking about it. I haven't had time to go through all our pictures yet, but I would like to make a digital album with some of our favourites to help us remember this incredible trip.
I know I want to remember this vacation forever!! A clean house can wait, right?! :)
I hope these tips help you stay refreshed after your next vacation!
I also wrote a post in January called 8 Tips For "Take Back The House And Get Back To Routines Day"! to help you recover after the Christmas holidays, and many of those tips apply to coming back from a vacation too.
How do you keep those relaxed feelings from a vacation alive once you return? Which of these tips do you think will help you the most? Where are you going on your next vacation?
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