5 Ways to connect during your next vacation
Summer is just around the corner! That means (hopefully!) a more relaxed schedule, more time for leisure activities, and the opportunity for a vacation/stay-cation. Vacations are a wonderful time to be able to relax, and to reconnect with each other, with family and friends alike. Since that time to reconnect is so precious, it is beneficial to be very intentional about it. Here are some suggestions to help you in making the most of those opportunities to reconnect!
1. If at all possible, go to a different location.
Get away from home, where there are all kinds of distractions and daily chores waiting for you. It is just too easy to see that “quick” load of laundry, those few dishes that need to be washed, that one room that needs to be picked up. The problem is, before you know it the day is used up taking care of ordinary tasks. Getting away from home will remove those distractions for you, and give you a different frame of mind. It will help you focus on being with other people. If you can actually go away for vacation, great! But if you can’t, and need to be home for a stay-cation, still plan to get out of the house. Plan for a day at the beach, complete with picnic supplies and beach games. Plan for a hiking adventure up in the mountains, or at a local regional park. Plan to spend the day with friends, touring a museum or a local park. Getting out of your normal routine and surroundings is very beneficial in reconnecting with others!
2. Turn off the technology.
A lot of times we stay connected with others via technology but at the expense of being connected with those people right around us! And we can get lost in technology, not realizing how much of our time it is actually taking. We need to check just a few emails, and before you know it two hours have gone by! While being able to be connected in this way really is incredible, it is not the same as actual face-to-face interaction. When on vacation, turn off the technology and focus on your family and the people around you. Ask questions, listen intently, do caring gestures. Let them know that they are important to you! When you put them before checking your computer/phone/i-pad, they will experience that they actually are more important to you. If you absolutely must check your computer or phone during vacation, then set very strict limits around its use. Get up early and check it before others are up for the day, or set a few specific times in the day when you will check it. Enlist the help of your spouse, another family member or friend to help you stay within limits. Put it away when you are done so that you won’t be tempted. Remember that you are not missing out on something, you are investing in something!
3. Plan some fun events and activities.
This can involve things such as:
- Board games
- Card games
- Outside activities like football, nerf gun battles, squirt gun fights, scavenger hunts, kite flying, fishing, bird watching, hiking, relay races, putt putt golf, picnicking, bike riding, paddle boarding, beach day, the list is endless!
- Baking cookies together
- Reading a book out loud together
- Doing an art project together
- Letting everyone pick one favorite meal to have
- Letting everyone pick their favorite activity to do as a family
- Letting everyone take a turn planning one day’s events/activities
The possibilities are endless! You can always do a google search to get more ideas and activities. The point is to get everyone involved, participating, connecting with each other, and spending time together, both in terms of quality and quantity. You are intentionally setting aside some time to create memories together, which will last a lifetime.
4. Strive to have a balance in how you spend your time.
It is important to build in time to have a lot of fun together, where you can just relax, laugh, enjoy a meal or an activity together. However, it is also important to build in time to reconnect at a deeper level. Make it a priority to reconnect emotionally. Ask open-ended questions that help a person describe how they are feeling about things. Ask them how their job is going, school, friendships, other commitments. Ask them what their goals are, what they are doing to reach those goals, how they are feeling about reaching their goals. Ask them what they are learning about themselves, and how they are growing. Ask them about their frustrations, joys, hurts, discoveries. Make it a point to just actively listen when they talk, and respond with empathy and validation. Initially don’t try to solve anything or give a commentary; that can come later. When you initially just actively listen and empathize, the other person feels heard and understood, which paves the way to reconnect and feel emotionally closer.
5. Make it a priority to reconnect spiritually.
Ask open-ended questions that help a person describe how they are doing spiritually. Ask them if and how they are spiritually growing, what God has been teaching or showing them, what spiritual lessons they are working on or learning. As with reconnecting emotionally, it is important to initially respond with empathy and validation. And then it can be a perfect time to encourage them spiritually, reminding them of God’s great love, compassion, and plans for them (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11).
Summer vacations are such a great time to reconnect as friends, as a couple, and as a family. As you strive to do so in a balanced way, the rewards will certainly be worth any cost or inconvenience!
Romans 12:10 – “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
Willa Williams is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She works at the Biola Counseling Center as a therapist and at the Biola Center for Marriage and Relationships as the Consulting Therapist. She has a Master of Arts in Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL) and a Master of Arts in Counseling in Psychology from Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). She is Level 3 Trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy and also is a Certified Prepare/Enrich Facilitator. Before coming to Biola, she served overseas at the Spanish Bible Institute in Barcelona, Spain, where she taught a class on counseling skills for pastors and served as the staff therapist for the students. She has been married for more than 30 years and has two teenage children. She has a passion for healthy relationships and enjoys working with couples as well as individuals. She appreciates the immense impact that healthy marriages and relationships have on couples as well as future generations.