You’re finishing up your shopping, you’re getting ready to travel over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays, real life is going on, and on top of it, you have extra activities at this time of year. You’re in a good mood but as we get closer to when you’ll be leaving to travel to family, your anxiety level is increasing.
You remember from your last holiday or vacation how difficult it was to get back to normal life.
Re-entry is the hardest part.
Closing out vacation: unpacking, getting the laundry done, doing a big food shopping trip, opening days of mail, and it goes on.
Getting back to life: gearing up for work, getting back to a regular schedule, a ‘to do’ list, chores, fun, projects, yoga, reading.
The question is: how can we make re-entry easier, when you return from traveling?
BEFORE you leave:
Make a different kind of list. This is the “I can’t leave on vacation unless these things are done” list.
ONLY put things on there which truly have to get done. Don’t muddy the waters by adding everything that “should” be done, or would be “nice” to get done. This kind of list will ease your mind. This kind of list effectively gives you permission (trust me on this one) to let go of lower priorities.
If you use this idea with each vacation or trip you take, you’ll learn over time that there is a balance to the before-vacation list and the after-vacation list. The less that goes on the before-vacation list, means the more you put on the after-vacation list. It is a balance, but the exercise of “I can’t leave unless” will help you set priorities more clearly.
Share the list with your household or friends/extended family. Or post it and be sure they see it. Ask for assistance if there is a lot to do. Making the list visible is a first step. If you feel like you have to do everything, consider letting go of small things people can help you with. Or have them help with the other list — the things that don’t really need to get done before you leave.
At work: About a week before you leave, change your voicemail and email.Let clients and colleagues know your countdown. If you give them fair warning, you will have fewer people calling you for something 2 hours before you have to leave to go on vacation. If they are calling you, then it’s a true emergency. It’s not “Oh, I forgot you were leaving, but can you do this anyway.” It helps with re-entry, because people tend to figure it out on their own while you are gone, so there’s less waiting for you.
Take extra time off before your vacation.Most people make sure they arrive home a day early. I’m asking you to consider not working until the evening before you leave, but take at least a half-day off to get ready for vacation. You’ll have this extra time to do those things you forgot about it, didn’t know about, or were surprised with at the last minute.
WHEN YOU RETURN:
Get back on top of your time and your schedule first thing. Many of us tend to do this last. Do it first and you’ll feel far more in control and ready for everything else. You’ll be calmer. You’ll see if you need to move anything. You’ll figure out when you can get laundry, shopping and other back-from-vacation needs taken care of. Get your mind ready first. Get the things done second.
If you can, ease into your week. Recognize you’ve been on hiatus, on a different or NO schedule for your vacation. Sort of like going from your summer-to-Fall schedule if you have children/grandchildren, only on a smaller scale.
Laundry: when we travel to family, we actually do our laundry the last day we are there, or at least some of it. This way, some of it’s done and can be put away, right away, when we return. Even a small amount gets you started on unpacking the suitcases — one of the biggest issues I hear about. I’m starting to think we don’t like to unpack because we don’t really want to leave that vacation feeling behind!
If you can’t do that, forget about doing laundry first thing on your return. Decide on a night in the coming week or pick a weekend day to do it. There’s something mentally cleansing about getting the vacation laundry done but other things likely need to take priority on your time, to get back to normal life quickly.
Safe travels and good luck on re-entry!