Ah, the sweetness of summer… As it comes to a close and the unhurried days of August turn into the bustle of back-to-school mania, I, like many families have been traveling and eking out the last bits of goodness from the dog days of summer. My family traveled to Colorado to get in some quality outdoor adventures, family memory making, and shared time together.
In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast… If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” That's exactly how I feel about family summer vacation. My kids are now 8, 10, and 11. I only have 7 more precious, guaranteed summers (tears) to slow down and make life-long memories with my oldest son. It's easy to miss out on these opportunities.
We don't block off the schedule, or plan ahead enough, or there is just too darn many activities on everyone's plate in the family! And so these opportunities and the delights of summer pass us by. Here's how I ensure that I never miss an opportunity to partake in summer vacations with the most important people in my life, AND that my team gets to benefit from my absence as well.
Look at your calendar 6-12 months out (or at the beginning of the year as I do) and plan your vacation days out FIRST. I know, I know, this is totally bucking the system, but if these don't get scheduled first, they usually get pushed out of the schedule altogether. Remember a well-rested dentist is not only a better dentist, but a better boss, mom, wife, etc... the list goes on and on.
Block your preferred days for vacation off on your calendar ASAP, clear it with your administration or partners (if you are in a multi-doc practice) and announce it to your team. If you do this many months in advance, they can coordinate their vacation days with yours, thereby making it less of a drain on the office to keep someone busy and employed while you are away.
Plan a vacation or stay-cation that is equal parts fun and relaxation. You know how it feels to come home from a vacation feeling even more tired and wrung-out than you were beforehand. Make sure that you aren't going full tilt the entire time. Have time to laze around on the beach, hike, smell the roses, explore your destination, and enjoy unrushed conversations with your loved ones. That is the true purpose of a good summer vacation in my opinion!
Research, or better yet, have your kids research the location that you are going. Check for local festivals, bands, and/or concerts that will be going on while you are visiting.
Look for a great place to stay. Check out Vacation Rental By Owner or Air BNB for a house, duplex, or condominium to stay in while you are away. These give you more space, often at the same price of the hotel, with added amenities like a hot tub, large yard, grill, close proximity to attractions, deck, full kitchen, etc. I love to stay in VRBO properties when we travel!
Plan "white space" into your vacation (a.k.a unplanned hours on your calendar). As we were white water rafting (one of our few scheduled activities while in Colorado), we spoke to a fellow tourist, and she was amazed that we had only scheduled 2-3 activities for the entire week. She had something planned for each morning and afternoon! I am so busy fulfilling urgent requests, rushing to and from appointments, and meeting others’ needs all the time, in my daily life, so during vacation I let life guide me, I chillax, and just go with the flow. My family and I are unrushed and largely unplanned during summer vacation, and we relish this. Sure, we may miss out on getting into the “it” restaurant or the coolest adventure on the mountaintop, but the most important thing to us is having a relaxing environment, with fun times spent together, and “white space” to soak up the small pleasures. So often this gets pushed to the wayside, as we rush from one thing to the next.
I hope that these tips guide you as you look ahead to your next vacation or to next summer. As a dentist we are in the enviable position of being more in control of our lives and schedules. Make sure that the magic of the summer and shared experiences with the ones you love doesn’t pass you by.