This year we just didn't have the finances to make a trip back to the USA. Also, the summer is my busiest time of year. There were a couple of years in a row that I left everybody else with all the work to do and now this year it's my turn to stick around. There also aren't really any nearby places to go for a change of scenery and climate. We used to always go to Miango in Nigeria and that was fabulous, but the thought of driving down there now just doesn't sound like much fun.
So.....we decided to take a "stay-cation". We get a month a year of vacation. I know that sounds like a lot compared to what some of you get for vacation. But the climate here is pretty intense and life here is stressful, so the one-month a year is much appreciated! We decided to take two weeks now and then another two weeks near the end of August when things calm down a bit.
If you find yourself in the same boat and you just can't go anywhere for vacation, staying home isn't really all that bad. Here is what we've done to make it successful.
1. TURN OFF THE PHONE!!! If you are somebody who walks around with your phone in your hand and who spends a lot of time on the phone for work or socially, you'll find this rough. I turned off my phone and used a phone I have to loan to travelers. I gave my number to three people so we could be contacted in case of emergency. Here in Niger it's easy and cheap to buy a 2nd SIM card so that you can have a secret number for your stay-cation. If you live in the US, maybe you can borrow a phone from somebody who has a spare or buy a cheap trac-phone and turn off your other phone. Honestly, turning off your phone will be the hardest thing for you to do. But do it. You won't regret it.
2. Don't check your work email. If you're like me, a good portion of my job is spent answering emails and I can just imagine how many emails I'll find when I go back to work tomorrow. But don't do it. At all. Ever. You've got to completely unplug from work, even if the office is just down the street.
3. Get a pass for a pool or someplace else you like to go or do that the entire family enjoys. You do need a chance to get out of the house. Getting a pool pass may be slightly costly, but it's still cheaper than plane tickets to go somewhere. If possible, do things like go miniature golfing, go to museums....whatever day outings are available in your area. Nothing like that is available here, so the pool it was!
4. Go out to eat several times a week. Unless it's a vacation for mom, it's not a vacation! Unless you de-stress by cooking.....but cooking is NOT my de-stresser!
5. Do a big grocery shopping before you start your stay-cation and don't go during your stay-cation. Buy some special things you wouldn't normally buy, especially if they make meal prep easier. Remember, if it's not a vacation for mom, it's not a vacation!
6. You initiate your social contacts. If being with others, hosting a party, etc., is relaxing to you, do it! I think this would especially be important for singles. Two weeks completely by yourself might be too much, even for the introverts among us. However, John and I do a LOT of hospitality as part of our ministry, so we chose to keep social contacts to a minimum.
7. Don't look at the clock. Do what you want, when you want to do it.
8. Play with your kids. Talk to your husband. Take a chance to re-connect with those you love.
9. Do whatever relaxes you: read, watch TV, play games, sleep, browse the internet, go for a walk or a run, journal, read your Bible, pray, work on your hobby, etc.
10. If you live in Niger where every day is still over 100 degrees, plan to run your air conditioner more than you normally would. It's the only way to escape the enervating climate, other than going to the pool.
11. Have a budget. Presumably you are taking a stay-cation because you can't afford a trip or other circumstances keep you at home. So, if money is a problem, don't over-spend. But do plan to spend more than you normally would in a month.
It's back to work tomorrow!