My family will be taking a vacation later this year to Disney World, and I am freaking pumped! I know it’s the happiest place on earth for kids, but my husband and I enjoy it just as much, if not more, than the kids. And let’s be real, we need a break more than the kids do anyway.
Parenthood is a no-joke gig, and many of us have careers outside of our responsibilities as parents. As I write this I should be sleeping, but seriously, who has time for that, or a vacation for that matter?
Apparently, I’m not alone, because according to a recent survey, most U.S. employees are only taking half their allotted vacation time. Listen, I might not be jetting off to the Florida Keys, but let me assure you, Mr. Survey Man, I’m burning through my vacay time taking care of sick kids, or hoarding what little time I have left for our next exposure to the plague.
I know there are a lot of other parents out there doing the same, but science says we should be spending those hard-earned hours on an actual vacation— and our health depends on it. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but there are certainly health benefits to time off. It doesn’t really matter where you go, just go and you will be healthier, science says so.
This is assuming your time away is well-planned, of course. I think we can all agree, a poorly planned vacation—especially with kids—can’t be a damn nightmare. The key to vacation success is to plan ahead so you aren’t trying to navigate an unknown transit system or flight changes when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself. Trust me, there will be plenty of unforeseen kid bullshit along the way that will cause stress, the more you can prepare, the better. Hell, maybe even leave the kids at grandma’s house and fly solo with your partner. Now that’s my idea of a vacation!
I know, it seems pretty obvious that vacations and time away from work are good for us, but having the science to back it up is a great excuse to take more trips. “Sorry boss, can’t. I’m trying to be healthier, so I really need to take this vacay.”
And that really wouldn’t be much of a stretch, because vacations take you out of the monotony of your daily routine, change your frame of mind, and allow you more time to bond with family, friends, or partner. It allows those of us with busy lifestyles or careers to hit pause and catch our breath, so we can return refreshed and ready to roll. Vacations often lead to increased productivity, and can decrease things like stress, depression, and even our risk for heart disease.
For those of you who are the planner in the family, like me, I know what you’re thinking. Vacations are a lot of damn work, and if you take the kids, you typically need a vacation to recover from your vacation. I feel you. Packing for the family sucks, and Jesus take the wheel if you’re going to make me fly with my children, but it’s worth it. Science says, and if I’m honest—though most of our vacations are a bit of a train-wreck—I agree.
Even the vacations that get a little sideways often turn into family jokes or fun memories. No one forgets the time a New York City cabbie almost killed them, or they got lost in Chicago. So, even if things don’t go as planned, stick with it. Take the pictures, eat whatever you want, and don’t answer a single call or email from work. Science says.