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Relaxing can be stressful

Why does it seem that planning a family vacation gets harder and more stressful the older our children get? Surely I am not the only person to experience this phenomenon?

First there is the juggling of everyone’s schedules. It used to just be my own crazy work schedule that dictated when we could all get away. “Let’s go away February break,” my wife will suggest. “Nope, I can’t, that’s basketball tournament time,” is my usual reply. 

“How about Thanksgiving break?” she will ask. “Sorry, that is basketball preseason and I have to do all the previews,” is my typical response. “How about over the Fourth of July?” she will say. “Are you kidding me? Do you see how many events are going on around town that I have to cover?”

Now it’s not just my schedule that puts a wrinkle into family activities. It’s our children’s as well. First there were driver’s education classes, then the start of school. And now that school is in session, there are band and chorus concerts, school plays, and dance rehearsals. 

Locking down a date and place to take a vacation is only the first stressful step for me. I think it is because I am not a “let’s wing it” kind of person. I need to have a schedule in place that says what we are going to do. 

And then there is the packing. How much clothing should I bring? Do I need to have seven pairs of socks and underwear? These are all extremely important questions that need to be answered. I typically tend to overpack for trips just so I can avoid having to worry about these things, but do I really need to?

Does it really matter if I forget to pack the deodorant or toothpaste? What happens if I spill food all over myself and it’s the last clean shirt in my bag? Why do things like this perplex me to no end? I mean I am pretty sure no matter where we travel to, chances are there is a store that sells these everyday items, right? 

If the trip requires flying, that adds a whole new wrinkle to my stress levels as I am not overly fond of planes. Sure, I could have a doctor prescribe me something to relax, but knowing my luck, this would be the time that I discover I have some severe allergic reaction to a pill I have never taken before or it would have some alternative effect on my system causing me to freak out mid-flight like that guy from the “Twilight Zone.”

My wife is the polar opposite. She can up and go without a care in the world and rarely is stressed about anything. If she could, she would travel around the world and never bat an eye. Nothing ever seems to get to her, and I can admit that I am just a bit jealous of that trait. 

Perhaps one day I will be able to sit comfortably in a hammock on some beach with nothing to do. That would be nice. And chances are I could always find some local sporting event to go cover.

Joseph Cyr is the assistant editor for The Star-Herald, Aroostook Republican, Houlton Pioneer Times and St. John Valley Times, plus the websites TheCounty.ME and He can be reached at (207) 532-2281 or via email at

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