A week and a half ago, my husband and I came to his parent’s house to spend the morning swimming, attend church in the afternoon, swim again in the evening, spend the night, wake up the next morning and go home. Instead, we swam, attended church, spent the night, woke up, and repeated that pattern every day until today. We have remained at my in-law’s house for a week and a half without returning home. They have been out of town, and while we only live 15 minutes away, our stay here has provided more than just a stay-cation, but an eye opener and breakthrough about how I do life at my own home, on my own schedule.
I have always been the one to over pack my children and myself for every occasion. Apart from being a woman (who needs options), I guess I am more of a type A personality than type B. Just the idea of getting somewhere without a solution for a possible catastrophe gives me some anxiety. I often find myself longing to be a very laid back, easy going, go-with-the-flow kind of person. It seems to me people like that enjoy life so much more. On too many occasions I have spent so much time preparing for and trying to be an attentive mother during and event, I end up missing the joy of the gathering entirely. I go home exhausted, wishing I had never tried to dress and pack for, and be at something that was supposed to be fun in the first place. While I may be going out on a limb here, I believe I am not the only one who feels this way. Whether it is the season of having small children and never quite being able to prepare for anything predictable, or just always liking to be prepared, I sometimes wonder what extraordinary moments I have missed out on, because I was preoccupied prepping, packing, planning, and supervising.
This past week and a half I arrived with the clothes I was wearing, a swimsuit, and clothes for the next day. And over the course of time we have stayed here, I have washed and rewashed those clothes to wear every other day. My husband did pick up a few items from the dry cleaner, seeing as he had to return to work last Monday, but conveniently for him, his parent’s home is closer to his work than our home. My children have worn a few outfits from the selection my mother-in-law keeps at her house, and while very cute outfits, it was minimal compared to the ridiculous loads of clothing overflowing from their rooms at home.
We have had a great time during our stay-cation. Because we are not going on a vacation this summer, our extended outing turned into a break from my daily chores and routine at home. While the dishes at my in-laws don’t do themselves either, I don’t quite mind as much cleaning their dishes as I do my own. And having a private pool in the backyard has been ideal, seeing as my girls may have gone skinny dipping a time or two throughout the duration of our stay – a silly event they could not have done at any hotel. And considering my usual perfected skill of over packing, I have surprisingly and enjoyably survived with only two days worth of clothing, and a limited wardrobe for my children – less to consider when dressing them and myself, and less to wash once dirtied.
While I may never become a laid back mom, or easy going human, in general, I have caught a glimpse of the extraordinary beauty in the simplicity of just not striving to prepare enough or pack effectively for a full eleven days. I have been reminded of all the things in my daily routine I added on my own, without consulting God first. While I could remind myself over and over again how it really does not matter what my daughters or I wear to the grocery store, or if I have to refill their sippy cups at someone else’s home, because I forgot an extra water bottle in my bag, or any other possible faux pas, I have experienced many more countless moments of joy and treasure when I have not had access or need to over prepare in those ways. I feel a call to slow down, think less, accomplish more, definitely purge (quite) a few articles of clothing and other clutter, and enjoy many more moments of my quickly growing daughters.
What began as a single overnight outing turned into a shift of mindset and gentle reminder to be fully present during the days God has blessed me to spend with my husband and children. It will be challenging as we return to our home tomorrow, but I will be striving less to be prepared and more to experience the fleeting preciousness of each moment. Maybe you, too, find yourself striving, doing, going, over thinking, or over packing everywhere you go. Although you may not have a getaway place or stay-cation, like we did, challenge yourself to live and do with less than you are use to each day. If the tendencies I described echo of your own life patterns, make a conscious effort to be fully mentally and emotionally present throughout more moments with your children, instead of just physically present and focused on all of the what-if or to-do possibilities. While all rules and routine may not get thrown out the window, a little freedom prevails for mom when pressure to the brain has been alleviated through purging of material items and old thought patterns. You may just discover a breakthrough in the bad attitude you have been striving to beat and develop a renewed mindset and more enjoyable way of parenting and doing life.
Less than a week in, but I am really enjoying the simple life.
by Jacqueline Fox