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How Physician Parents Can Make Vacations More Relaxing


On vacation, kids still need their diapers changed, noses wiped, meat cut up. You can still unwind, regardless.

One great way to balance work and life responsibilities is to take a vacation. Vacation away from your patients, your charts, your bill paying and mail, and the day-to-day responsibilities. Summer is a popular time to take vacation. However, when you are a parent, you tend to take some of your day-to-day responsibilities (a.k.a. children) with you on vacation.

In other words, vacation is not always vacation when you’re a parent.

Kids still wake up at 5:30 a.m. on vacation. They still need their diapers changed, noses wiped, meat cut up. If you’re a mom or dad, you probably are still doing these things even if you’re camping or at the beach. So, with this portable bundle of responsibility, how can you possibly hope to rest and restore any type of balance?

One key, I believe, is to appreciate and relish the joy in the ordinary. Getting up at the crack of dawn with a toddler is not most people’s idea of relaxation, but it’s a completely different experience when you don’t have to rush out of the house to school or work. So, even though you’re rising early, it can be an opportunity to create a new memory and enjoy the moment - a hot cup of coffee and an energetic toddler wiggling on your lap as you watch the sun rise over a quiet lake.

Vacation can also be a time to focus on the moment. Instead of having to rush through dinner so that homework and baths and bedtime can occur, you can linger over dinner, talking with your kids and your spouse at length, reliving the good parts of the day that you spent together. Maybe this experience can even be translated into your regular life - making dinners together, which are nutritionally and psychologically important, the rule instead of the exception.

Finally, you can use vacation time to create traditions. These don’t have to be passed down from generation to generation like a priceless piece of grandma’s jewelry. They can be created spur-of-the-moment ones. Since our oldest was a toddler, we’ve hiked up a particular hill (I can’t really call it a mountain in the Midwest) on our annual vacations. Some years, this has meant my husband and I carrying three whining kids up a steep staircase. My husband even has a trick where each kid gets an M&M when they get to the next spot on the trail. Regardless, I know that we’ve created a tradition that our kids will remember and joke about into adulthood.

I hope that your time away from work and life responsibilities this summer is relaxing. Even if it’s not, remember to take the time to enjoy the little moments and ordinariness of your life. It’s the best part.

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