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When you think of a minimalist vacation do you think of two adults and two one-year-olds piled into a Subaru for a 1000 mile round-trip road trip?

Maybe not, but I’ll tell you how I overhauled my usual vacation M.O and managed to enjoy every freaking moment.

but why?

Two weeks ago, I made a commitment to simplify my (and my family’s) life. To put it simply, I’ve had enough. Enough with the physical clutter, the digital craziness, and the ridiculous amount of multi-tasking that’s required of being a mom to toddlers, a wife, and a full-time professional (among so many other things).

I have been embracing a minimalist motherhood, which is not about white walls and only owning 21 things, but rather the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

It’s been important to me to carry my new theme with me into all aspects of my life. Next stop, vacation!

taking advantage of what you’ve earned, mama!

One of the super awesome perks of being a full-time working woman is five weeks of vacation per year. Yessssss. Prior to the babies being born,  I hardly took any vacation, as I was strategically storing it for maternity leave. But after their arrival, I made a promise to myself to take the damn vacation time!

Anyway, the four of us just returned from a trip to see our very best friends in Ohio. We used to live there and leaving them was our biggest regret when we moved to NY almost three years ago. We do our very best to get together twice per year, which we’ve managed to do — despite the fact that since we moved we’ve added four little girls to our two families!

the chicken factor

Our original plan had been to meet up for a week in Washington, DC. Ultimately, Chris and I were not confident that we could stay sane with two partially mobile and non-communicative toddlers in a new city in the summer heat, so we chickened out. Our rockstar besties didn’t think twice about planning to take their four children ages 4 months-10 years to DC. Yeah. Luckily for us, they were supportive of our first-time parent anxieties and invited us to their place for the week, instead. It worked out for the best, because honestly all I wanted to do was sit on the deck and drink margaritas with my bestie.

the 4 miraculous ways i simplified while on vacation

1. I Didn’t Plan (Hardly) Anything

You read that correctly. The girl who usually plans her daily life hour-by-hour (not kidding) took her family on vacation and did not plan much at all.

I made the conscious decision that, as long as we had what we needed (food, diapers, place for the girls to sleep/nap), I was not going to be obsessed with planning what we were actually doing. I decided that we would not have a timeline to our plans. Also, I decided to be open to all plans suggested by our friends, and it worked out tremendously.

My conscious decision to not make many plans led to true quality time. Without a timeline, we did what we wanted to do. We cooked dinners in, spent time sitting and chatting, and slept in late. We took the girls to local caverns, as well as the amazing Columbus Zoo & Waterpark. I was able to enjoy every activity because I wasn’t constantly thinking of what was coming up next. Let me tell you, it was hard for me at first, but so incredibly refreshing.

2. I Went (Mostly) Technology Free

I packed my computer with me, with high hopes of keeping up with my daily blog responsibilities. Well–sorry faithful audience–but aside from finishing up last week’s post Sunday night in our hotel room, I didn’t even open my computer. Because seriously, simplifying my life does not mean being on my computer all the time while on vacation. There was nothing time sensitive during my entire week, and it was important for me to be mindful and intentional about that.

In addition, I tried my very best to minimize my cell phone and social media usage as well. Something that ironically helps a lot with this is my Apple Watch. If I know that I can get calls and texts to my watch, it makes it easier for me to throw my phone in the depths of my bag so that I’m not tempted to check instagram and Facebook every hour. Who knew that a piece of seemingly unnecessary technology would actually help with my technology addiction?

That being said, I did allow myself some indulging, which mostly consisted of watching (and creating) Instagram stories–one of my favorite past times!

3. I Created Memories Instead of Taking Pictures

I can honestly say that I was mindful and mostly successful at living in the moment during this trip. And the biggest things that helped with that were 1–not obsessively planning everything and 2–limiting my technology usage! Isn’t it ironic that things that are supposed to enhance our lives (and productivity) are the very things that keep us from enjoying it? Gosh, I really struggle with this, since I am a natural planner at my core. I may or may not have started studying a college admissions book when I was in 8th grade. Not kidding.

Since my phone was in the depths of my bag most of the time, this meant I did not take a ton of pictures. I purposefully wanted to be present in every moment, and I find that I much rather smile at my family face-to-face than behind a lens or a phone. While I am so happy to have made some truly fantastic memories during this trip…I do still wish I had more photos than what I got.

4. I let a seasoned mom rub off on me

For the most part, I am a quintessential first-time mom. I am also a quintessential twin mom. I obsess over schedules and routine. Bedtimes and naptimes are enforced. I measure out bottles and warm them to a particular temperature. Most meals contain fruits and/or vegetables. I buy organic stuff for my kids (but not always for me). Becoming a mom has given me a degree of worry that I have never known before. Does that ever go away??

My bestie, on the other hand, has had five babies. Five. And she, without a doubt, is a quintessential fifth-time parent. She goes with the flow and is real and raw and owns it. She says what she thinks and doesn’t care much about whether she is offending anyone with her opinions. And gosh I love her for all this.

When we first arrived at our friends’ house, we had to acclimate to having our kids in a new environment, since we were so used to our home. We don’t get out much–haha. This involved a lot of helicoptering and standing over the girls and redirecting them.

Granted, by the end of our visit, I still did that, but I gave myself permission to give them a little more freedom. Because the reality is, while I want to protect them from every fall and bump and stumble, they will need to learn the navigate the world without me holding their hand all the time. This will be harder on me than it will be for them. So I better get practicing now.

And gosh do our friends make being outnumbered by children look easy! I swear my friend can nurse a baby, take a toddler to the potty for the 4th time in an hour, french braid a 5-year-old’s hair, and listen to a 10-year-old explain turtle mating…all at the same time.

already planning our next trip

One of the worst parts of vacation with our besties is leaving them. But then again, one of the best parts is planning our next visit! We have high expectations for 2018. A trip to Disney with the kids — and a beach vacation just the adults! A bit ambitious, maybe, but we might as well dream big!
Something that keeps me going when working and mothering and adulting feels overwhelming is knowing that there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored by me. I suffer from wanderlust real bad.

If you are anything like me, you will love these fun prints I designed. Click below to download and print them at home! I hope they remind you to take advantage of this beautiful world we live in.

When you are done downloading your prints, go ahead and leave me a comment with two things: the best vacation you’ve ever taken and the number one place on your bucket list! I can’t wait to hear from you.