Plush Outdoor Blanket My daughter and I snuggling up on the gorgeous but chilly Mendocino coast. I admit it. Ever since I became a parent, vacations have been a major source of anxiety. A few years ago I called my sister from Maui, sobbing about not having fun. I know – pathetic. I took everyone’s enjoyment on my own shoulders. All that did was make me very unhappy, which took my family’s enjoyment down a few notches. It was a vicious cycle, and not exactly healthy behavior on my part. But I’ve come a long way! My family and I (husband and two kids, ages 8 and 11) just returned from a road trip to Mendocino and the Coastal Redwoods. I’m proud to say that I didn’t shed a single tear! Westport, California. The view from our vacation rental in Westport, California. In case you’re wound up a little tight like me, here are some mantras I used to get through the challenging moments: We can all indulge We all have our own indulgences, and we deserve them sometimes! I loosened up on the kids’ screen time schedule so they could play more of their iPad games than usual (we were in the car for hours and hours, so why not?), and my husband allowed me to indulge my desire to photograph everything – even when I’m sure it got a bit annoying. Vacations are breaks from the norm, so let everyone enjoy it in their favorite way! Gnomes Gnomes from my son’s required gift shopping stop. Everyone’s on vacation Many articles on traveling recommend that each person get to pick something they want to do on the vacation, and everyone is responsible for making those things happen. I agree completely! Everyone is on vacation, so if that means that we spend some extra time finding a great gift shop for my son, then it’s okay. Turned out the pitstop became a really fun detour with lots of photo ops for me (win!). insulated market basket We arrive at our destination – Avenue of the Giants Enjoy the ride I find that it’s easy to focus so much on the destination that the journey gets ignored, or seen as just a means to an end. For example, I didn’t even think about passing through San Francisco on the way up north. We decided to drive down Lombard Street and show the kids some fun landmarks while we were there, and it became a highlight of the trip! Stopping to soak in some views, or finding a unique local place to eat are so worth it. Don’t forget to smell the roses. One last thing – ease up on expectations. In the above photo you can see us picnicking in the forest. It was a gorgeous spot, and pretty much the ultimate moment in my mind for this entire vacation! But I certainly didn’t know that the mosquitos would be an issue. My son is wearing his hood up to protect his ears! I had to really check in with myself and not let it totally bum me out. There were so many other beautiful, fun, memorable, and unexpected moments that made the vacation a big success! So in conclusion, when you’re starting to feel your blood pressure go up a few notches, channel the mantra that fits the situation best. Who knows – you might even feel rested when you get home. It could happen!

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