Living Simpler: 3 Ways My Family Vacation was a Good Reminder

carter beach

We recently went on a week long vacation to Cancun, Mexico with all three of our young children. Now, here is where the resort images begin swimming into your head right? Well- we thought we would be different- separate ourselves from the resort style vacationing and go adventuring into the unknown. See the sights and eat local-ish. Why waste money on an all inclusive when we would be leaving everyday anyway? Go ahead, roll your eyes all you seasoned family travelers.

Anyways….after a couple of days caring for young children while I alternated between our apartment style hotel in the city and my sister in law’s resort hotel room (while big boys were doing most of the adventuring), I realized a few things, besides that with your kids an all inclusive resort is the way to go after all (insert your “rookie” comment here)…and I totally promise I’ll get to them in one second. I need to catch you up on why these realizations are so important to me first.


Now, I have not been the most attentive blogger as of late. This year year has been fairly busy,  but great, and when push came to shove my intentions of simplifying my life and reducing stress won out over writing it all down. My bad on the lack of writing and fulfilling my sharing value but I’ll go ahead with a pat on the back for prioritizing- thank you very much. This is not to say I haven’t been keeping on my 360 plan! Oh no. I’m here to report that I am actually STILL doing the week menu planning and simple meals with my MealBoard app (not affiliated) from last month and it is working out superb. That month was a winner and is making my daily life so much better.

All these months I’ve been tackling new things have been such game changers. The way I approach buying things or keeping things, how I think about joy when I touch something I own, how much time I spend getting ready or what I put on my skin or into my body has all changed.  I am simply being more me, more my family, more of what I love and less of everything else that was weighing me down. Wow -that really sounds like I’ve got it all figured out……bwah hahahahahaha. (Insert crazy laughter). Heavens no. I just ate like 20 mini Cadbury eggs left over from easter that I found and I shamefully kept one two more outfits for my trip than I intended. Work. In. Progress. over here.


Why do I bring all this up? Babble to fill the space between pictures? Could be. I’d like to call it prep for why I am sharing here today. You see. I went on vacation and was reminded again, why simple living and minimalism are appealing to me. The me who keeps too many clothes and who buys, and eats, too much unhealthy food. The me who is learning and growing in this process and needs good reminders of what I am striving for. Refreshers that get me motivated to reduce more, be more conscious and keep on keeping on. Ya know? So here is what my vacation, or as we like to call them-  Family Trips- cuz vacations sound like they should be relaxing and with children (maybe just MY children?) they are not. oh no? yours too? The moms are feelin me. Vacations are typically where you take your work as a mother to a less convenient place and throw out the routines and force your kids to have fun against their will. (for those wondering why bother taking them: a. to make memories and b. to hopefully raise kids that are good travelers and are aware of more world than the street they live on) K. nuff said about that.

Well- here is what I was reminded of on my trip with children-but for any age trip I think. Consider these things for adults too!:

  1. When you get out and DO STUFF with or without kids you need less to entertain you at home- aka less toys and games and clutter. Sure on vacation family trips you may be spending money to do big ticket things like water parks and dolphin encounters and museums, and attractions, but I’m just talking the doing right now.  When you are on vacation, especially with little kids, you get outside and DO (or you nap- either way minimal right?). averyhotel.jpgYou can’t bring much with you but somehow the pen and paper in the hotel room, or the pillows or the beach or the park, or each other are your entertainment. You get creative and you capitalize on what little you have and it works out ok. Take this beautiful weather week here in Texas for example.  While brother was at school the two little girls and I went to the zoo, the park, the gym, played with play dough and pretended to be puppies (my 3 yr old is in a puppy dog phase). After school everyday we have been riding bikes and trikes in the culdesac, playing with water, eating our snack outside or assembling gift bags for kids in Haiti at a friends house. Very little was taken out of the playroom until dinner prep time and 3 out of five days they chose to color at the table or make a coffee table fort out of the couch pillows and blanket instead. Point being that while this may be my young kiddos, or perhaps an anomaly of a week, not many toys were needed. We can get by with way less than we think, even on bad weather days. And don’t think I have some alien children who play quietly with their imaginations all the time! I’ve got a pterodactyl (as my son calls her incesant screaming) 1.5 yr old, a super duper dramatic (think hilarious stories, throwing toys, and weeping and wailing injuries) talkative 3.5 yr old and a typical 7 yr old boy with a pension for dinosaurs (aka being one) and teasing his sister. Soooo normal over here. Needless to say, the playroom is undergoing yet another round of purging since we got home! Yay!madisondrawing
  2. When you are on vacation- although its not real life- obviously- it reminds you of how much you, and they, actually wear. Aside from literal vacation specific wardrobe of say bathing suits or ski suits, the amount of items you need on vacation is a lot of what you already wear- right? At least per season. When you go on vacation you tend to really think about quality items that look nice, you/they like to wear, are versatile and pack easily in small suitcases. Why should everyday be any different? At least in application? I realized that what I packed for my kids was essentially their summer uniforms. holding macawAny new suits or clothes that were purchased for this trip were thought of in terms of the upcoming summer season here at home. Would they wear it again/love it? Did they have anything that fit already or from last year that still fits (this doesn’t happen with little kids much- but hand me downs? my own clothes?-totally) Does everything coordinate with everything else so that it is easy to mix and match and switch out a shirt if one gets too dirty from breakfast? Can the sandals be walked in all day comfortably and also be water friendly so that we can reduce the number of shoes brought? Will they wear out too fast or last the season? I began to realize that many of the questions we ask ourselves when we pack our family for a trip are the same things we should be asking anyway. We could reduce the quantity and up the quality, even for children, by looking at our whole wardrobe this way. Suitcases are like mini destination oriented capsule wardrobes at their finest.tanavery
  3. Housework. I like a clean house. I like organization. I hate to be the one to do either of those things. HA! I said it. Ok. So it’s not that I really abhor housekeeping. It’s not that bad. Laundry isn’t the worst either although my lack of follow through when it comes time to put away said folded laundry might lead you to think otherwise. On vacation there is very little of that goin on. Not because housekeeping comes and freshens up if you want. Not just because you aren’t at home. For me it was the observation that without all the knick knacks or extra furniture, or million other things in the two bedroom place we rented….it was fresher feeling. Never mind the light that flooded in from the huge 12th floor windows. hotelroom.jpgI still did a load of laundry, I still picked up shoes and put away our things. We cleaned out the rental car and reorganized the backpacks and beach necessities. I swept up crumbs and sand almost daily. We ate snacks and made bottles at bedtime. Heck, we even ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit cups and popcorn one late night for dinner. There was a small kitchen to wipe down and a dish or two to do. It was not a complete 180 from daily messes. However it felt much easier. It was simpler. It was a reminder that I could make my own space one that revolved around necessities and function, and still have beauty, without the excess that causes extra work.

So there you have it. An exhausting but good family trip AND a great refresher on one reason why I am on this year’s 360 Challenge journey! That’s a win win in my book.

Life can feel more like a vacation- NOT purely a family trip- when the things that bog you down are made simpler, easier.

Want to try a mini house purge while you are thinking about it?  Just 15 minutes a day?


Annnnddd the last couple of pictures from our trip. Just cuz.


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