My family and I recently spent a week together on vacation.
We hiked, toasted marshmallows for s’mores, and explored one of Minnesota’s lakes by boat. That said, it wouldn’t have mattered what we did.
We were together; we were present. Mostly.
You see, for me, family vacations aren’t about what we do but how we spend time together. With two kids, ages 9 and 17, and two busy parents that is often easier said than done. The allure of email, work-related phone calls, social media sites, and Netflix is real. Disconnecting from devices is hard but an important step for us to connect as a family.
Let’s be honest: we didn’t totally disconnect. After all, I have a Timehop streak to continue and our teen has a social life to maintain. Still, we intentionally talked and did things together without the distractions of devices, housework, work projects, and more.
We learned things about each other. My kids played together – with eight years between them, that doesn’t happen much at home. We took things a little slower.
It reminded me of a vacation we took when my youngest was 3 and we watched a big, black beetle meander across the sidewalk. My son’s questions rarely stopped: “Where is he going? What is he doing? Why? Why? Why?” As I observed his focus on the bug, I focused on being with my son in the moment.
By the time the bug made its way down the sidewalk and to the nearby road, my husband and then 11-year-old had had enough beetle watching. I stayed until the youngest decided it was time to leave. For days following, he asked and wondered about that simple insect.
I wondered too – whether I would remember our bug and be reminded to be present when I was no longer in vacation mode.
This year we didn’t have a beetle, but my family experienced small moments that are seared into our hearts and memories because we slowed down and took time to be with each other.
May you find time to watch beetles this summer. After all, if you don’t have time to watch a beetle cross the road during vacation, when do you?