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6 Ways to Unbusy your Family Vacation


I’m allergic to busy. Busy is the antithesis to presence. If your goal is to have enjoyable learning and adventurous experience for your family, then busy is the poison that will ruin it all. The pressure and control that busy brings prevents the peace that is required to foster joy. Busy equals stress and children and families do not thrive under stress.

Creature Discovery

So how do you have a rad unschool family adventure brimming with opportunity for engagement without the busy?

  1. List: Together as a family, make a list of all the places and activities that spark interest. For our recent Portland adventure, that included things like Lower Macleay Trail, OMSI science museum, and Multnomah Falls.
  2. Calendar: Arrange the itinerary in your google calendar based on practical considerations, and containing all of the pertinent details. Think of it like creating a menu that you are free to choose from as opposed to a to do list to accomplish. For example, we ended up wanting to go to 2 waterfalls that were both east of Portland so I put those waterfalls in the calendar for the same day, along with the addresses for the GPS. On our Seattle adventure, a lot of things had a cost and/or warranted a certain type of dress so I included those details in the calendar as well.
  3. Avoid Time Commitments: As much as possible, avoid committing to things that require a start time. Out of all the amazing things we did over our last week long adventure, only 1 required a start time and I called to make sure we could change that time on the day of if we desired (and we ended up doing just that when we didn’t want our beach playdate with friends to end).
  4. Flow: Honor your family’s natural flow. When do you all naturally rise? When do you get tired? When do you tend to get hungry? This should be the skeleton of your days. We are night owls and wake around 10am so I don’t anticipate being anywhere before 11 and we preferred to sit on our deck and watch the sea lions play in Puget Sound until about noon in Seattle. We honored that and we were all better for it.
  5. Prioritize: We always build our days around our top priorities, which are people, then experiences, then everything else. 2 friendship connections were important to us on this recent trip. A play and a big hug with some special people came first, figuratively and literally. That way, we were free to really appreciate and treasure that moment, and were then not rushed through any other experiences because we prioritized. If you’re going halfway around the world to stand at the feet of Athena’s temple, do that first.
  6. Don’t Rush: Release your agenda and settle into the present moment. Nothing is more important right now than your child sitting in the sand and discovering crabs if that is what they are enthralled in doing. Find the joy in that moment and don’t rush it away. This is the value of your trip: experience. The journey really is more important than the destination.

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

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I'm Rachel Rainbolt

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