We owe it to ourselves and our children to stop rushing to relax

Ah, summery weather is finally here, and minds wander to beaches and camping and getting closer to nature. Unfortunately, there is the hurried and often harried packing up, travelling, and setup to conquer first.

While I appreciate the rush to get to that special place for family quality time, the irony is evident in the insanity we put our kids through to make it happen. This year, I’m trying to focus on making the whole process more enjoyable and relaxing.

People drive more quickly and recklessly as they scramble to get out of the office early and off to the cottage, only to be jammed up in grocery stores right after work (for those who didn’t go at lunch). The stores are packed and frenzied, and the aisles are like running the gauntlet to grab last-minute supplies. The Beer Store and LCBO aren’t much different and they often feel like a mosh pit. The common link here is that everyone is irritated to be delayed in any way, and no one looks happy.

Focus, people. We should all be smiling and high-fiving one another with the weather we’ve been having. We’ve basically jumped from winter into summer: this is cause for celebration.

We all agree that weekends aren’t long enough, and more of us should look into flex-time or unpaid Fridays or Mondays to stretch out our summer sanity hours. (Seriously — look into it — would you rather have the extra couple hundred bucks or more glorious time doing your favourite activities?)

Weekends promising gorgeous weather are even more precious, so I understand the desire to get there quickly, and get set up quickly, so that the relaxing can start as quickly as possible, but there has to be a better way. We need to make sure we aren’t ruining our time and our loved ones’ time with rush-to-relax insanity.

I remember loving camping, but hating the day before we left and the day we arrived at camp. Tear-down day was no bowl of cherries either. I think those conflicting moments of being told to hurry up, don’t run, help your (sibling, mother, father), get out of the way, be quiet, say something when the tarp was falling down — were hard to navigate emotionally and not the kind of memories my parents were trying to build. I always felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I really wondered why we bothered camping at all.

It would take the adults a couple days to settle down from the campsite arrival experience. They would start getting fidgety days before we had to leave as well. There was usually only one or two days when the adults really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Reflecting on all this, I remind myself that I owe it to myself and my kids to find a more calm way of doing this. Kids don’t understand our rush, and they shouldn’t have to be hit with the collateral damage.

Kids don’t want to hear us cursing at bad drivers, or swerving frantically through traffic to get home; they aren’t interested in being dragged through the supermarket at a breakneck pace because we forgot hamburger buns and ketchup. Packing doesn’t have to be a military speed-drill with reminders being barked out.

Kids won’t notice if we aren’t there at the exact time we planned. They will notice our impatience, however. Anything can be fun for our little dudes, if we get them involved, and give them enough time.

This past weekend, I packed with the kids in the morning and had the bags waiting by the door. I dropped any idea of arriving at a set time at our destination. We arrived when we arrived. The kids stayed in the vehicle watching a movie on the DVD player until we had all our gear set up. We kept smiles on our faces (mostly). There were decidedly unrelaxing moments, but overall, I tried to focus on creating positive memories for all of us to put aside for the next rainy day when we are stuck in town.

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