I’m sitting in the Nashville airport waiting for my flight back home after spending most of the week inside the Opryland Hotel, a place jokingly referred to as “the Biodome”–it’s so huge, and there is so much to do and eat and see there, that there’s really no reason to leave. There’s even a waterfall and a garden conservatory that I actually got lost in.
So it’s a little disorienting being back out in the real world (well, as much as an airport can be considered the “real world”) and headed home. And it’s gotten me thinking about a few conversations I had with some wonderful women at Blissdom about how hard it is to go home after a trip. You walk in exhausted, just wanting some space to decompress and absorb the experience you’ve had. Dad, on the other hand, is also exhausted from taking over and wants to hand off the kids so he can get his own decompression time. And the kids are falling all over themselves to see you, talk to you and climb on you. Of course you want to hold and hug and care for everybody, but after being independent for a few days, the sudden re-entry into being needed can be really overwhelming.
But we can do some things to make re-entry a little easier:
- Schedule yourself an adjustment day with plenty of quiet time and re-connection. I’m so happy I’ll have all day tomorrow to lie around, snuggle the kids, and basically re-acclimate to life as a mom without having any running around or work to do. When possible I always try to give myself an off day after I travel.
- Get home early. I misjudged this one this time around. I didn’t want to have to get up early, so I scheduled a 3:30 flight. But when you consider the drive home from the Chicago airport, that doesn’t put me home until 9…when I’ll be tired and the kids will have been anxiously awaiting my arrival all day and then will probably have a hard time settling down for bed. Whoops.
- Take your time getting home. My usual trajectory is that I don’t think too much about missing my kids and husband until the morning of my return trip home. Then I feel like I’ve been gone for months, miss everyone terribly and feel like the minutes crawl by. The temptation to white-knuckle the steering wheel as I race home or sit rigidly on the edge of my airplane seat is high, but that just makes me feel anxious and it doesn’t speed the time up at all. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the trip home: listen to music you love, watch the in-flight movie, read a book on the plane, take time to appreciate the last few hours of alone-ness with your thoughts. After all, by tomorrow it’ll be back to Caillou and WonderPets and Go, Dog, Go.
- Take good care of yourself during your travels. Build in plenty of time for getting where you need to go so you aren’t stressed or anxious during your drive or flight. Eat, even if it means picking up something on the way home or eating at the airport before you leave. You don’t want to walk into the house starving–it makes everything more stressful.
- Don’t hurry to jump in and fix things. If the house is a mess when you get home, hold off on cleaning up. Ask your husband to hang on five more minutes so you can put on some sweats, park yourself on the sofa, snuggle the kids and just enjoy being home with your family.
The rest of life? It can wait until tomorrow.