I’m taking my two daughters who are in college to France over their spring break and, while unbelievably exciting, the stress is mounting. My high-school aged daughters are staying home with my husband and whatever extraordinary circumstances that could crop off for school and life, of course, have materialized.
Here are my tips to avoid burnout before ever reaching the City of Lights…
- Don’t schedule your plane flight for the day one of the passengers is driving home from college six hours away. There is buzz that another winter storm is headed for the mid-Atlantic and Northeast and my daughter has to drive home to catch our flight. We thought we were taking a side trip (see lesson 3) and worried that we would not have enough time in Paris if we waited the extra day to fly in..
- Reschedule the installation of your master bedroom closet storage system for when you get back. Seriously. The painters are here this week to get the closet ready for installation. So every single thing that was in my closet is now on the floor of our room in a basket, box, or overloaded extra hanging bar. I can’t find anything. The worst part is that the things I had started gathering to take on trip have gotten buried under the clothes and shoes that came out of the closet. Those travel-sized toiletries I bought for the trip? No idea where they are.
- Don’t rely on the reputable travel company that you’ve used with great success in the past to arrange your 4-day side trip to Bordeaux if the American expert on France has left the company and the company’s French liaison is on holiday in Africa. Exactly one week before our plane flight, I got an email that regretfully informed me that they are unable to make any arrangements. I waited as long as I possibly could—just 13 days before our flight–to make airline reservations. We thought 8 days in Paris would be too long (and Paris is so expensive!), but if we spent 4 days in Bordeaux, the remaining 4 days in Paris would be perfect. And, believe me, I know there are worst travel blunders than spending over a week in Paris, but if the travel company had been upfront and told me nothing was coming together, I would have spent fewer days in France and not had to deal with the stress and worry of a flight on the same day the girls were driving home.
- Don’t assume that just because you are a seasoned worst-case scenario specialist that you’ve really thought of everything that could go wrong at home. My sweet Golden Doodle became lethargic last week and after abdominal ultrasounds, blood panels, MRIs, and a spinal tap, the neurologist diagnosed him with meningitis. I thought I had made contingency plans for everything–the midday walks, the closet installers, rides to lacrosse practice, school transportation, who is keeping an eye on my mom and what my mom is keeping an eye on, and plans for dinner while I’m gone. I had nothing on my radar about what to do if a perfectly healthy puppy came down with a life-threatening illness. Thankfully, the antibiotics and steroids appear to be helping and he is home from the hospital. He’s on multiple medications and I’ve already made the charts and checklists for his care. I’m feeling conflicted and sad because he has stuck to me like glue since his discharge and I know he is going to be lonely during the day while I’m gone.
- Don’t wonder out loud if you should cancel your trip because the dog might miss you during the day.