The 60-second vacation

Leslie Penkunas//April 9, 2019

The 60-second vacation

Leslie Penkunas//April 9, 2019

I carried my 21-pound son in his car carrier two blocks from my home to our parking space that we lease in the city. I gave myself a little pep talk as I walked: “This is the hardest part of your day, every day. It’s all downhill from here.” That sounds terrible and like I can’t carry 20 pounds two blocks, but all of you know that the car seat adds 20 pounds to the equation. Throw a post-baby body, a briefcase, a lunch and sheer laziness on top of it, yes, it’s hard to carry 40 extra pounds before having a cup of coffee in my sleep-deprived system.  I placed the seat in the installed base of the backseat. Click. After I shut the door comes one of the best parts of my day – the 60 second vacation.

Around the holidays, I had a heart-to-heart with my husband and told him I didn’t think I could get through the spring without some kind of three-day weekend or mini-vacation sans baby. I had been back to work for four months (and I had gone back almost immediately – seven weeks after giving birth). We both had hectic work schedules. Our birthdays are both in April and our anniversary is in May. There’s got to be a good resort or mini-trip where we can take a few days to ourselves.

I brought this up to the grandparents. They were all in. Except for the weekends they were traveling, enjoying their retirement. Or my mother-in-law having to go to my sister-in-law’s graduation. And the husband and I had x, y and z scheduled for the in-between weekends. Oh, and keep in mind Easter weekend fell later on the calendar than usual this year, so we can’t do it that weekend. And then there are some weekends where my husband or I go into the office because, well, the workweek is not long enough to get everything done. Before you knew it, we had zero chances left for a mini-vacation. Booked solid until June.

I was deflated. Here we were, six months after the initial come-to-Jesus meeting about needing a break. Our calendar was busier than ever and the marks under our eyes had only multiplied in size.  Some days there weren’t just bags under my eyes, there were Vintage Boho Bags: extremely large but rough looking —and with a little character — but definitely otherwise surrounded by a colorful palate.

Something had to give. We promised ourselves we would be easier on ourselves.  We had to put on the literary oxygen mask – and take care of ourselves before we could take care of anyone else. I put my foot down… and began to get creative. I started to think to myself: What parts of the day are you not taking advantage of? Are you wasting time, much like you sometimes waste space? Is there a way you can clean it up and Marie Kondo your schedule? Where can you fit in a break when everyone else is taking advantage of a wasted ticking minute-hand?

I am very good at time management, sometimes to a fault. I often overschedule myself and it leads to burnout. What I forget to schedule in, however, are breaks. So, if we were thinking of taking 72 hours to ourselves, maybe we can do that – just not all at once.

I close the car door and make sure to take a full minute before I walk around to the driver’s side of my vehicle. Sixty seconds of peace and quiet. The child is content, contained and safe in his car seat. I close my eyes. Inhale…exhale…that’s good stuff. Sometimes, since I’ve started this practice, I’ve taken vacations as long as 120 seconds. That is a really good start to the morning.

There are times when I get to the office and nobody else has arrived yet, so I’m making coffee…and it’s quiet. That is a vacation for me.

Red light? No problem. That is a one minute vacation for me. There is no use in getting frustrated that I can’t move… because I can’t move. I might as well enjoy the time I’m spending, sitting and waiting instead of getting frustrated and angry that I’m unable to control the situation or move forward.

I have a one minute vacation after a meeting on my way back to my desk.

I have a mini-vacation when I use the ladies’ room at work: by myself. Without an infant attached to me. It’s a beautiful thing.

At a doctor’s appointment and you’re waiting in the waiting room? That’s like a 15 minute vacation right there. And then another 10 minutes when they take you back to the room and you’re waiting in a gown with nobody around. I love doctors’ appointments now. It’s crazy how much breathing and vacation time you can have.

When my husband gets home from work, he may take the dog for a 5-10 minute vacation around the block.

Waiting in line for something? The lunch rush? A grocery store? Post office? A gas station? A bank? Anywhere? Lines are the best vacations nobody ever saw coming. Take advantage of the respite…especially if you are without your kids.

When I get Baby M to fall asleep as I’m rocking him in the rocking chair, I sit for an extra minute. Maybe five minutes.

I have nightly vacations that last sometimes a whole hour with my husband where we may watch a movie or a show after the baby is in bed. Sometimes, if it’s a weekend and Baby M is content, the three of us will snuggle up, along with the dog and watch a movie together. Those are the best vacations.

There are 72 hours in three days. And 60 minutes in an hour. That’s 4,320 little mini-vacations I could have to myself. If I can’t have all of those minutes in a row… I’m certainly going to use them all sporadically as I see fit… one minute at a time.

Carley Lucas is a working mother of one hysterically giggly 8-month-old. She, her son and her husband live in Central PA and firmly believe a household of laughter is the best form of medicine for any situation.