Each and every June, my husband and I venture off of the island of Manhattan and head to Florida for a romantic vacation, with just one small catch, there are 100 fellow Fletcher family members in attendance. Our yearly St. Augustine furlough is attended by any and every family member within a 10,000 mile radius. Yes, we even have a cousin who travels from china, and another from South Africa.
These family reunions are great, and I would absolutely adore joining this gorgeous fete every 2-3 years or so, but we do it every single year without reserve. Even more exciting, there are absolutely no surprises during this melee. For instance, day one kicks off at the Oasis Restaurant on A1A and then on to the condos where each day is structured into 2 beachfront sessions, morning and evening. During the afternoon break, we glide from condo to condo, visiting with family members, and likely playing board or card games while eating sandwiches on Wonder Bread. We even rent the exact same block of condos each year, meaning it is almost like our own little pied-a-tier.
Now look, I am definitely a big fan of the close, relentlessly loyal family ties that very few people have the opportunity to experience. I enthusiastically applaud this family for their ability to stay close, even as time has moved them further apart physically. I am incredibly in love with these people, and quite honestly, they could really teach the world a lesson on family relationships.
But, I also struggle a bit every year with the aspect of spending my week so “still”, so “remote” (and typically so “particularly bored”). Also, while I wholeheartedly love the structure and pre-planned vibe of the week, I myself could use a bit excitement here and there.
If you identify with this, whether with your own family or that of your spouses, know this: you are not alone, friend. I have learned a thing or two over the past 10 years of St. Augustine summers, so here are my top 8 rules for surviving (with your sanity in tact) a family reunion or vacation.
TIPS FOR SURVIVAL
Take time for you.
If you don’t feel like participating in every activity or gathering, gracefully bow out. Unless the specific event is really important to those in your party, just say no and take some time for you. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I take a bit of time in the bedroom to read or take a nice long walk down the beach.
Find your Tribe, Love them Hard.
There are most definitely people within the group that you have a really good time with, think similarly to, and throughly enjoy being around. Those are your tribe. Stick with them and there are most definitely good times to be had.
Decide to make lifelong friends.
Listen, at the end of the day, these are people who will presumably be in your life forever. Don’t spend your time feeling bitter that you are there, or wishing that you were somewhere else. Make the choice that you are going to cultivate and care for these relationships that will be with you forever. Truly spend time enjoying and loving the people in your tribe. One of my very best friends in life is my husbands cousin, and I found and grew my relationship with her during these exact vacations. I can’t imagine my life without her, and we would likely not have become close if these soirees didn’t exist.
Go with the Flow.
Don’t try to force the fun. Do your best to relax and enjoy the activities that you do decide to integrate yourself in.
Ditch your expectations.
Friends, expectations are for the birds. Do yourself a big favor, and don’t create extreme expectations for your getaway. You may envision nightly walks on the beach with your husband, or watching the sunrise with your sister in law, but the truth of the matter is, it may not happen. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to live up to your dream vacation during a large group excursion. Save it for the smaller, one on one trips, you’ll thank yourself later.
Set your boundaries and rules and stick with them.
Decide what is best for you in terms of time spent with others and participating in activities, and honor that no matter what. Make decisions that will allow you to have a good time and enjoy your own time off and use the word no when needed. Trust me, other people will understand. Even my Mother in Law has been known to wander off to the bedroom and closes the door here and there throughout the week.
Create the Adventure.
This is a big one for me. I gave up on waiting for the rest of the family to want to do something besides those that are typically scheduled and started asking people to go on outings or join in on “off the beaten path” activities. Since I began this practice I have been sailing with the close friend mentioned above, on a haunted house tour with another beautiful friend and cousin, and horseback riding on the beach at sunset. Stop waiting for an invitation and take advantage of your location and time off. Plan an adventure and take your crew.
Bring things from home that comfort you.
There is nothing better than a blanket, scarf, or sacred item from home to make you feel better when you feel a bit homesick. I always bring my favorite bedding items with me, and during those times when I am overwhelmed or needing some space, I curl up in my home brought bundle and take a breather. It does wonders for ones mood.
Need some good reads for your next beach trip or family vacation? Take a peek at our Early Summer book picks here.
Monday, June 18th, 2018
SURVIVING A FAMILY GATHERING IN STYLE