As you may have gathered, my family is just back from a week at the beach.
Actually, our annual week-plus-a-day.
I can’t remember when we started this peculiar tradition, or why, but for years, we’ve headed south on Friday and stayed through the next Saturday. Even though the area we stay in operates on a Saturday-to-Saturday cycle, we’ve chosen to break the rhythm by adding that extra day on the front end.
It’s not a huge difference, time-wise. But the difference to our family’s frame of mind is huge.
After a crazy spring and crazier summer, we were ready for this year’s beach vacation.
We drive to the beach every year. But I hate road trips—especially road trips with kids. (Sorry, kids.) The drive itself takes around ten hours, but it feels considerably longer if your 4-year-old has to pee every 45 minutes. (We were puzzled, until we found the water bottle and confiscated it.)
The kids do pretty well in the car (and usually, I do, too) but it’s still a long day, and not much fun.
So the first day doesn’t feel like a vacation.
We usually make it to the coast by late afternoon, exhausted, but glad to be there so vacation can really get started. On Friday—a day early—there’s no competition for parking spaces, luggage carts, or the elevator. (This may or may not be because as an HSP introvert, I hate crowds.) We can crash for a bit and still have to time to hit the pool (forget the beach—we’re too spent) before dinner and an early bedtime.
On Saturday, we woke to a Florida sunrise, well-rested, the dreaded 600+ miles behind us, and ready to begin our vacation in earnest. We were acutely aware of the benefit of being off the usual routine, as the Saturday arrivals flooded in, fighting over the luggage carts and slowing down the elevators, while we headed to the beach.
Our vacation only started one day early–8 nights is not much more than 7–which doesn’t seem like a huge difference. But it feels like such a luxury. That extra day delivers a lot of bang for the buck.
All week, I’ve been thinking of more commonplace, less extravagant ways to build similar slices of bonus time into my regular Louisville life.
I feel the same sense of luxurious roominess when I wake up half an hour early in the morning, boosting my allotted quiet writing time by 50%. When someone else runs carpool—or a saintly friend invites all four kids over to play—and I gain a free hour or two to myself, it feels like a tiny miracle. When the babysitter says her class got canceled and could I use her help for an extra hour next week, I do a little happy dance.
These are small chunks of time, but the bang for the buck is huge.
We’ve also found ways to capitalize on being out-of-sync with everyone else’s routine, like we are when we get to the beach a day “early.”
When we go apple picking on a Thursday morning instead of a bustling September Saturday—because we’re homeschoolers and we can—crowds are light, parking spaces are plentiful, and employees are extra-helpful. We spent a wonderful week in Chicago just before Thanksgiving a few years ago, taking advantage of low-season discounts on rooms and museums, and heading home before holiday crowds drove up crowds and costs.
When my husband and I go out for coffee instead of dinner, we’re a lot more mellow, because we’re not worried about whether or not the babysitter is successfully wrangling our kids to bed. (And if we do go out to dinner, I’ll take a Tuesday night over a Saturday every time, thank you very much.)
We’re back from our summer vacation, but I’m looking to find more of these luxuries in the fall, and beyond.
I’d love to hear about the things you do that deliver the most bang for your buck, your vacation schedule, and the ways you choose to step out of rhythm—and why—in comments.