There’s nothing quite like a family vacation. Spending time together when you have nothing but time to spend together is fantastic. Spending that time together at the beach? Even better!
Our family spent last week in Virginia Beach (or, more specifically, just south in Sandbridge). It was our first time there, although it’s not too far north of the Outer Banks where we’ve been a few times. We were invited by friends, who rented a large 8 bedroom house, which was constantly full of happy, relaxing people. I think at one point there were 26 people there, 9 of them kids. That may sound chaotic, but it was nice. Everyone just did their own thing.
My favorite part was the fact that I didn’t need to do much of anything. Our friends organized the whole thing. Everyone contributed money and menus were planned, food was bought, and everyone pitched in to get the cooking and cleaning done. For me, it was a huge relief to be free from planning and cooking meals. The only thing I had to worry about were lunch and snacks for the beach. It was a vacation where I really got to relax and not have to be responsible for everything. It was glorious!
My other favorite part of being on vacation is seeing my kids explore and play. They love digging in the sand and riding the waves in the ocean. Buddy spent 75% of his beach time in the water, Sassafras spent 75% of it on the beach, but they both had so much fun. Me, I spent 75% lounging in a beach chair reading a magazine between taking turns with the other adults to keep an eye on the kids (another benefit of going with a big group).
We were lucky to be in a house with a pool, and the kids thought that was awesome. I did too. There’s something different about cooling off in a pool than at the beach. In the ocean it’s hard to totally relax. You have to keep an eye out for waves and wildlife (I know it’s unlikely, but I’m a worrier, so I’m always on the lookout for sharks or other undesirable water animals). But in the pool, you can lay back and chill.
Not to say I don’t love the beach, which I do. There’s something about sitting in the surf, or under an umbrella, or floating in the water, that energizes. There’s reconnection to the world, to nature, that happens to me. It helps me see things in the big picture, without the distractions and stresses of daily life to get in the way. A memorable moment was our last day. There were jellyfish everywhere, and during a brief respite Buddy and I ventured out into the water. Had it not been our last day at the beach I would have gone back to the house earlier, but I wanted to make it last as long as possible. The waves were calm and the water was clear. Suddenly, two feet from Buddy, I saw a big crab hanging out on the bottom (Buddy was wearing water shows so I didn’t have to worry about his getting nibbled on). Then, like magic, thousands of little fish swam right around us. It was a huge school. Their shiny silver bodies glimmered in the sun. I’ve never experienced the ocean quite like that since I was SCUBA diving on the coral reefs in the Florida Keys. I loved being able to share it with Buddy too.
I’ve returned very renewed. I have lots of ideas of things I want to get done and some clarity on what I want to spend my time on. Those are all good reasons to get away from daily life. I hope everyone has the chance to take a break and recharge.