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Spring Break, Whoo Hoo!!

(The view from Bald Mountain, Sun Valley, ID)

Ah yes, Spring Break! Usually, we can’t really go far or do much for Spring Break due to the school schedule and the dance schedule not syncing up. But the stars aligned this year, so off we went! Headed out to Sun Valley Idaho for some spring skiing and sightseeing.

We are just back and had a great time, despite Alex falling on the first day, first run down the mountain, and ending up in the ER with a broken wrist. Honestly, I think she was relieved to just not ski anymore, but that’s a story for another time.

You might think that with the winter we’ve had in the east this year, the LAST thing I’d want to do is head to more snow. But this was different. This was vacation snow. This wasn’t shovel-the-walkways-and-hope-the-plow-shows-up-to-clear-your-driveway snow. This was snow that I don’t have to stress over. Snow I got to play in. Snow that removed me from any responsibility.

(View of Trail Creek while Fat-Biking) (Hiking Prospect Loop, Sun Valley, ID)

Hiking Prospect Loop - Sun Valley, ID

(Fat-biking fun! Sun Valley Nordic Center/Golf Club)

And that’s where I’m going with this. Vacation with no responsibilities. I don’t mean you get to act like a total idiot because you’re on vacation. I mean the responsibilities of being at work or at school or running the household or dealing with whatever projects you might have going on. Just getting away and relaxing and having FUN!

So imagine how overjoyed I was when I get a text from my 15-year-old daughter three days before break that one of her teachers has assigned a practice SAT for the break. And the utter jubilation I felt the next day, when she said she was given History homework as well. And total elation over her English homework assigned the last day before we left.


Now, I don’t know the thought process behind any of it. Or if they even really thought about it at all. But these teachers drive me crazy.

I told Grace that she should plan to get it done before we leave, because I’m not letting her bring it with her. She said she could do it on the plane, and I told her no.

She wasn’t going to get it done on the plane to begin with, and then it would have just sat in her room at our rental unit, looming over her that whole time, and she wouldn’t have been able to completely relax. And she wouldn’t be able to completely focus on it if she did it on vacation. Neither of which sound good to me. So just get it done.

This isn’t the first year this has happened. And surely it won’t be the last.

What on earth are we teaching our children when we give them work to do when they should be relaxing?? No wonder they’re stressed out all of the time. They don’t know how to relax. They’re being taught that vacation only means less work. Not NO work.

I have no doubt that teachers are working on their break as well. But why? They shouldn’t be either. And if you’re a teacher and reading this, how much do you enjoy working on your vacation?

As far as I can tell, there is no real down time in a student’s life anymore. My girls have had homework over Winter Break, Spring Break and Summer.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the summer homework. Evidence has clearly shown a loss of knowledge when not being engaged for 2-3 months. But to HAVE to work on it every single day?

Alex came home towards the end of the school year last year with information for me on how to order their summer math homework books. It was horrendously thick and had tons of work, and didn’t allow for a single week off. AND it ALL had to be done. AND I was the one that had to grade it. So now I have homework, too?? Like, Really?????

(Alex and I out hiking)

It’s far too much. These kids need a break. A real break. Not a day or two here and there.

For a few years, my husband did work on our vacations. I hated it. It was time meant to be spent with the family and a time to take a break from daily life. He would argue a point that why shouldn’t he take a call if it was early in the morning and we weren’t up, or there weren’t any plans.

But my thoughts about Billy working on vacation wasn’t always about what the plans were that day. He needed a break, whether we were around or not. A vacation is a vacation. Vacate. Leave. Leave it all behind. So leave it behind. It’s just as much about his own break as it was about spending time together.

(Billy and Grace skiing Bald Mountain)

He’s gotten much better about it. But I know he wasn’t the only one doing work on his vacations. And so, to that end . . .

Here’s a frightening statistic. Sixty-one percent of Americans take work with them on vacation according to a Glassdoor-Harris Interactive survey. You know, for those that even take a vacation. Because 25% don’t take everything they’re allotted through their employers, and 41% don’t take any of it!

If I take those statistics into consideration, I guess I should be happy that he takes vacations at all!

So if you’re going on vacation with your family and doing work, and your spouse is doing work, and your kids are getting homework, where’s the vacation?

We’ve lost sight of the fact that our time is our time. And if we are given a break from work or school, those things don’t have a right to infringe on that time.

Someone commented to me recently about being happy that airplanes now have WiFi so they can stay connected. Really? When I had my office job, I was elated to get on a plane and be disconnected. I could read or watch a DVD (remember those?) on my portable DVD player (remember THOSE?), or nap.

But that’s all gone now. There is hardly any place we can go anymore and be truly disconnected. So we have to be diligent on our own to disconnect.

Let’s look at a list of things that happen when we are able to truly disconnect and relax, and really enjoy that vacation:

Less anxiety

Less depression

More positive emotions

Better connection to family/relationships

More energy

Lessened risk of heart disease

Better sleep

Improved productivity once you return to work!

I love that list! Who wouldn’t want all of that in their life?

So if you haven’t gone on a vacation yet, start telling yourself now that you will not bring work with you, and I implore you to teach your children the exact same thing. Stressed out kids only lead to stressed out adults and an increased risk to everything in that list up there.

And if you haven’t been on vacation in awhile, what are you waiting for?? Go plan one! And then . . . vacate.

One final note, on Sunday as we were relaxing that night before heading back to school the next day, Grace said to me, “My friends are stressing out trying to get everything done for school tomorrow. It feels good to not have to worry about it.”

Let’s hope that lesson sticks.