Earlier this week, I arrived home after almost one month away from home.* I’ve lived overseas before and I’m not afraid of a road trip or extended vacation, but this time, coming home was even sweeter than it usually is. I’ve been thinking all day about what the difference is and I’ve come up with this:
- Routine. As an adult with a family, routine is the thing that makes it all work (relatively) smoothly – without routine, things are a lot more difficult! I loved the variety of family cultures we experienced on our trip, but I missed mine. At work, routine is the thing that can help keep the train from going off the track – if you have a routine, getting thrown that last minute project won’t generate as much angst.
- Familiar responses. While I know all the folks we stayed with, there were still times I was unsure of the best way to approach a subject or answer a question about politics or other delicate topics. It’s nice to be at home where I can speak my mind and not worry about whether or not my husband is going to have an adverse reaction to some statement I make. At work, it’s nice to know who your go-to co-workers are, that you have to give the marketing team chocolate if you want something done faster, that the facilities folks love your jokes or that a burger and beer can move your IT project to the top of the list!
- Showering is better at home. Actually, there were some places that had much nicer showers, and some that did not. It wasn’t the actual shower, but it was nice to be able to take it whenever I want without worrying about interfering with someone else’s routine or using up the hot water or not having access to all my lotions and potions. At work, it’s nice to have your own space where you know where everything is and you know how everything works – even with a wonky computer or printer, you know how to make it work like the Fonz, and that makes you a hero.
- My stuff. Oh, I brought plenty with me (too much, my husband would say) and I didn’t really miss anything I left home, but when I got back, I was just happy to see my stuff. My son spent several hours getting reacquainted with his stuff, checking out books, baseball equipment, rocks and Pokemon cards. He is delighted to just see his stuff again. At work, your “stuff” are all your projects – papers you have written, documents you’ve created, clients you’ve helped – it’s nice to reminisce a little bit and get reacquainted with your past accomplishments. They’ve helped you get where you are; they may also inspire a fresh perspective or creative idea.
- Sleeping is important. I had some VERY comfortable sleeping arrangements on this trip, but I was awoken more than I am at home. My son was often in another room with other kids and in the middle of the night, he’d get freaked out or have a little asthma attack or just miss me, so he’d come to visit. Vacationing and working at the same time is hard to do, but doing it with interrupted sleep was extra tough. There were many nights when I was going to come back to hang out with the adults after bedtime but I usually ended up falling asleep. At work, it is important to get rest – don’t be a martyr! If you’re tired from being the first one in and the last one out, you’re probably not doing your best work. Be kind to yourself – take a break, get some good sleep, live your life. It’ll all be there tomorrow after you’ve gotten some quality shut-eye.
*Thanks to all my family and friends (who are like family) who hosted me and Joey – we loved seeing you and spending time together…it was a terrific experience for both of us. You’re welcome here any time!
– Libby Bingham