I picked up my 14 year-old from the bus stop, something I do on occasion [read: when I am procrastinating getting important work done].
She asked, “how was your day, Mom?
Bad. How was yours?
What did you say? (she’s clearly not used to that answer)
I said it was bad. How was your day?
Well, I just told a phone rep that I hope she has a terrible, horrible, awful day.”
It is true. I was talking with an American Airline rep, the third time this month to attempt to utilize a companion ticket; something I had tried two other times to redeem with no luck. This time I not only had no luck, but she told me I was irresponsible and that I needed to take responsibility for my own incompetence. So I lost my cool and told her I hope she has a terrible, horrible, awful day. It might sound bad, but truthfully, I wanted to say worse.
This came a day after Sofia was home sick for two days with the flu, after Fiona spent a day in such a bad mood she nearly lost her chance to be in the same house as her dad, and after a few months of my husband hating his new job.
Yes, the Allen family is in a funk. What do you do when the whole family is feeling down and out? Well, I tried to schedule a fun weekend get away, but AA totally let me down (and called me irresponsible). So nix that idea. But I have to do something. We are all really bummed, and it is time to make a change.
My good friend and colleague, Dr. Debra Farr, did research on this. Sort of. Her research is on the importance of family vacation on family cohesion and bonding. Her research, in a nutshell, says vacation and family fun is really good for a family. And in reading her paper, I am once again reminded of the importance of leisure, family togetherness, and simply having fun together.
We are a family that is often focused on fun times, but in all honesty, our funk has led to lethargy and than has lead to a lot of screen time for each of us. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE SCREEN time. My children come by it naturally. I would watch TV all day if I could (even though it makes me feel kind of crappy). My favorite is watching TV all together, cuddled up on the sofa as one big happy family.
Screen time, even screen time spent together, is not really helping us feel better. In fact, it could be contributing to our funk. Research shows that too much screen time makes you tired, grumpy, and depressed. Yikes. That sounds familiar.
So, if I were working with my family as a family life coach, I might think the answer would be simple. Turn off the screens, go out and bond as a family. If only I had the energy to get off the couch, turn off the TV, and get the family out of here, I’m sure we’d all be better off for it. Like I say, do as I say, not as I do.
I ran this idea past the family, and they were against the idea of turning off the TV and doing something. Anything.
So what did we do? We got up, went for a walk, and then came home to brainstorm where we might go next on family vacation. Looks like UK, Hawaii, Norway, or Toronto are the winners. Fingers crossed we figure out how to get that amazing vacation to become a reality soon. In the mean time, just dreaming about and planning our dream vacation made us all feel a tiny bit better tonight.