From Guest Blogger KaKaKaty: Last Saturday night we arrived home from our annual vacation in Hilton Head Island, SC.  My husband and I have been vacationing there for about 10 years and we love it.  Why the repetition? Well, my parents own several weeks of timeshares in HHI and a free vacation is always better than a vacation you have to pay for!  Besides, if we were footing the bill we would end up in places like Kelley’s Island or rural Pennsylvania, which are cheap and close by.  We’ve done both and they weren’t all that fun.  So we go to the same place every year which to some may seem boring, but to us has become a welcome and tranquil retreat. In fact, last year we bought our own week of timeshare so we can go more often.

None of this is to say that we never go anywhere else – we’ve vacationed in Vancouver, Chicago, Michigan’s UP, Orlando and Goderich, Ontario in the past few years – but there is something so relaxing about returning to the same place every year. You know what’s worth your time and what’s not; you have favorite haunts and can get by without an agenda since you’ve already done most of the touristy things.  Plus a 2-bedroom condo is vastly superior to a hotel room when vacationing with a child, no more family bedtimes at 8 PM since everyone is in the same room!

What hit me like a punch in the face upon returning from this vacation is that when traveling to a favorite spot - a place where you already know what you like and dislike; what’s worth your time and what’s not - you can turn your brain off.  The biggest decision of the day might be “do we want to hit the pool or the beach first?” I have found this to be the main advantage to a repetitive vacation.  There are no schedules to keep, no “must do” activities, and you already know your favorite dining spots.  The brain activity is kept blissfully low all week – a major plus for parents.

All of this translated into me sleeping like a baby each and every night.  The evening routine went something like this: dinner, bike ride or beach walk, tuck a very tired girl in, then veg out to bad TV or read for a bit.  Then my husband and I would quickly and blissfully drift off into a deep slumber without a care in the world.  This lead to 2 very well rested and contented parents (who also took daily naps and took turns sleeping in each morning).

Contrast that beautiful scene with how it’s been every night since we got home: throw together some sort of dinner, try to get as much out of the waning evening light as possible, put the kid to bed as she fights every step of the way, do chores, maybe read a bit then turn off the light only to have your mind flip a switch to “on”. I swear that every night since we have been home as soon as the light goes out a switch flips in my brain and it’s off to the races.  Ideas for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party, conversations I’d like to have with my boss, ideas for future blog posts, a mental grocery list – my thoughts tumble from one thing to another and the next thing I know it’s 2:00 AM and I’m still staring at the ceiling.

We’ve been back for 4 days and I’m exhausted. Last night I went to bed at 9:00 hoping to catch up on some sleep only to find myself staring at the ceiling once again at midnight.  It’s like I’m now paying my dues for having 7 nights of untouched sleep – my mind knows we’re home and it’s making up for lost time. When I was in college returning from another fast and furious vacation in Panama City, FL would leave me exhausted for days – a week of non-stop partying will do that to a girl.  Now, the roles seem to be reversed and my vacations are restful but re-entry in to the real world is exhausting. I’m not sure which scenario is better. But one thing is for sure – I will take moments like this even if it means some lost sleep any day: