A couple of weeks ago we went on our first big family vacation with all the kids on my side of the family. We drove down to the trusty Gulf Coast, vacation mecca for middle Tennessee families. It was wonderful. We basically did a whole lot of nothing, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I loved watching Hattie and her cousin Kaylin having a blast at the beach swimming in the ocean, building lumpy sandcastles, dancing in the tide pools. We ate ice cream, obviously. I got to spend precious time with my twin nephews. My parents, grandparents, and Uncle Steve soaked up some grandbaby time. My grandparents amaze me daily. They have a love for travel and are incredibly active. My grandmother loves helping with the babies and insists on doting on all of us. Not that we mind. My grandfather turns 90 this year, and he goes on a walk every single day even on vacation. I hope to live and love life the way that they do and for as long as they have.
Amazingly, both Dad and I more or less turned off our work mode. Typically on vacation, we're like Modern Family's Jay Pritchett and Claire Dunphy, drinking coffee every morning with our laptops open and talking incessantly about the business. This time, I actually turned off all my email notifications so that I wouldn't hear that anxiety-inducing ding and see the badge icon of the amount of emails piling up. I did the same for all my social media apps.
One of my favorite things to do in the world is to put up a vacation responder email, and this was my best one yet I think: Thank you for your email. I am on vacation through August 28th, and I will not be checking my emails. Due to the volume of emails I typically receive, if you want to ensure that I receive your message please feel free to follow up with me on or after August 30th.
I also, of course, included alternative contact information. I'm at the point that I realize that anyone that really needs to get ahold of me immediately has my cell phone number, and everything else can wait. I did admittedly check in on my emails once a day just to delete things I didn't need, check off ones that I was just copied as FYIs, and snooze emails I could address later (thanks to Inbox by Gmail, which I'm currently obsessed with). Five to ten minutes total a day, tops, so that both my vacation and return were far less stressful. To the credit of my team, the few times that I responded to something, I would get a sharp email back reprimanding me for working. That's when you know you have great people. I've been able to return to work with a clear mind and focus on what I need to accomplish before maternity leave (less than two months away! eek!!).