Family Vacations are Loads of (Fun) Creative Frustration

Vacate and fill your creative well.    photo by Fiona Riplee

Vacate and fill your creative well. 

photo by Fiona Riplee

Summer is in full swing. How can I balance a creative life with family vacations?

While family vacations are full of adventure, memories, and good times, they also come with their fair share of frustrations. Especially, when a toddler is involved.  

I typically get too busy worrying about the quality of the trip (also chasing said toddler everywhere) that the enjoyment is by-passed and my creative energy reaches an all time low. 

What I set out to do before this family vacation trip was to put into perspective the purpose of the trip and how a vacation can foster creativity in the future. It is easy to get discouraged when my idea and my family's idea of what a vacation is going to be like collide and have opposite goals. I'm sure there are a lot of writers and creatives out there who are like me. Our dreams of vacations go like this: 

Ahhh... Time to relax and (marathon) read (a) book(s). I can work on that creative project I've been putting off because I've had too many pressures at work (my day job that pays the bills) to focus on it. 

Or maybe this: 

I'm so looking forward to sleeping in on my vacation and watching gobs of TV that I haven't been able to watch because I'm chasing a toddler or too tired after work (my day job that pays for vacations). I'll have ALL the time in the world to fill up my creative well. It's going to be fantastic. 

Or finally perhaps this is a good depiction of a vacation dream: 

No one is going to bug me. 


Well... I'm laughing my ass off right about now. It's one thing to dream about vacations. Reality is another. While it is now obvious to me after writing my vacation dreams down that none of them will COME TRUE, there is another realization that hit me. 

Vacations are for vacating. Yes, this is a perfect opportunity for taking a break from creating anything. 

This is the time to focus on my family, on actually HAVING FUN, and stop the pressure (I'm giving to myself) of always being on. It's also important to share these dreams with your family. Depending on the itinerary, there very well could be time to work on a creative project, sleep in, or watch what you want to on TV. A little planning can ease the pain of vacating.

This vacation I want to live in the moment. I want to pay attention to the activities we have planed and the ones we don't, but also respect myself when I decide that for an hour or two I'm going to create, then I'm going to have fun. Hopefully, your family will also respect this time for you to rejuvenate. Work-a-holics don't have a place on vacation, but neither does name-calling. Working for a few moments or a few hours while on vacation isn't being a slave to work, because all of our definitions of vacation differ. Balance is necessary, but sometimes having the constant pressure to be doing something dries up our creativeness.

So, I'm going to live in the moment and store my vacation activities and restful pauses for the future. When the vacation is over, there will be a plethora of ideas and memories that have filled the creative well. I'll make sure I write them down. Both you and I deserved this break. 

When the vacation is over, I won't be able to wait to get busy.

How distracted or frustrated do you get on vacations that don't allow you to be creative?