15-Minute Summer Vacation

15-Minute Summer Vacation

Yesterday I ran into an old friend in the pharmacy line. She is a successful businesswoman who makes million-dollar deals without batting an eyelash. Tough as nails, heart of gold, you know the type? She is also the mother of several school age children.

“How’s it going?” I asked her.

“Just waiting for school to start on Friday,” she responded as she shook her head, “just waiting for Friday…”

Summer vacation might be a vacation for my children, but not for me. You might remember that a few weeks ago I posted something about creating a mini-vacation within the non-vacation that is the summer vacation for mothers.

And that’s what Bassi Gruen, Family First editor, was talking about this week. She writes:

“Why can’t I just say my lines? Why does this perverse part of me rebel at the very word ‘vacation’ when it’s used to describe a family trip involving children, heat, high expectations, and low frustration tolerance?…

“It’s wonderful to watch your children have fun. It’s pleasant to hike together. It’s gratifying to return to your home base, tired but happy, after a successful excursion. Yet those trips can also be demanding, drawing on your every last ounce of patience.”

And then Bassi shares the story of one particularly grueling day from this year’s vacation, a beautiful hike in Israel’s North followed by hours of waiting with her crowd of sweaty, tired, hungry children for buses home that either never arrived or were headed for the wrong destination.

When everyone finally made it back to the apartment where they were staying, she shares:

“My husband and one of my sons were starting the grill for our barbecue. The kids were playing. No one needed me at that moment. I slipped upstairs. I turned on the air conditioning in the bedroom, and pulled out a book. I unwrapped the indulgent vanilla ice-cream bar with strawberry swirl and white chocolate coating I’d purchased the day before. I sat and read and licked. I felt myself relax. The tension seeping out. When the ice cream was finished, I gave the stick a last suck. Then I finished the chapter of my book. And I went down to rejoin my family.

“I’d had my 15-minute vacation, and that was enough for now.”

Until a few days from now, when all the mothers in Israel will be saying “Thank G-d it’s Friday.”


  1. I think its very sad that we are all waiting frantically for children returning to school ad if they are an obstacle to our so called and so 21st century”liberty”! I have had my 6 kids two months at home and i am happy to return to a daily routine again but i saw this 2 months as a blessing from god to be together for such a long time! Ths woman you talked about is a career woman do how much did she spend with her kids to be so eager to be friday? They probably went from keytana to keytana the whole summer and her relief comes from stopping this 2 months new shedule
    I am sad with what we say about education as if kids were a problem and not a blessing

    • I often find that the simple challenges of life that other people breeze through are difficult for me. May you continue to be inspiration to all of us!

  2. what struck me is that all descriptions of “successful” vacations for mothers are invariably when the mother can get away for a while, be it 15 minutes or 2 days. what’s wrong with us moms? why can we not chose to have fun, to cherish the (limited) time we are given with our kids. they grow up so fast… I did have to work during summer vacation but I made a point of doing something fun with my kids that are still home, at least every evening. I believe they appreciated it a lot. me too…

  3. How will women who are alone all day and every day feel reading this?

    • thank you for your important reminder to be grateful for the blessings in life, even when we experience them as challenges. Every stage of life and every life situation has its challenges that are also blessings.

  4. I am a mother that works part time in school, so I had a long summer break together with my children. I loved being together, the quality time we had, no morning rush, no sandwiches to prepare, etc. I feel sad and sentimental to send them off to school and see them so much less.

    But I am totally exhausted. Vacation with children is NOT relaxing in the way that vacations were before the children were born. Not once this summer could I ask: what do I want to do today for ME? Does this feeling make me a bad mother? I think not. I was happy to read the letter in Family First because I am sure MANY mothers can relate and reading this will reassure them: you are not a bad mother. You are just being human!

    Thank you for posting and as always giving chizuk to (slightly) overwhelmed mommies.

  5. Yes,shosh, I think you hit it on the nail. Yes we love our kids and enjoy seeing them play AND our kids come along with mess, fighting, crying, etc. Yes! Both aspects coexist! No guilt required.

    We can only try to enjoy the positive parts and not get overwhelmed by the negative parts. And I’m looking forward to tomorrow (first day of school) AND I will also miss my time with them!

  6. All your posts give me so much chizzuk- thank you! This summer was transformational for me and my family and a turning point for me as a Mommy. You see, I used to be a Mommy that got easily frustrated and lost patience very quickly with my kids. But this year one of my kids suffered from a serious emotional issue so I joined Rabbi nivins child in crisis chabura and worked with a therapist intensely and my life is totally different. I’ve learned through much work, tears and davening to have so much fun and enjoy my kids. And that’s what we’ve done this summer! And I’m so sad for it to be over. I never thought I would be one of those people who say that but here I am! We should all be blessed to always enjoy our kids!!!!

  7. This summer was a BIG challenge for me but it was also wonderful. I found a way to connect with one child who often drives me nuts! And I found a new way of parenting with more patience, logic and less emotion. It was like hiking a mountain. It was hard but so worth it!
    As for the lady who posted about how will women who don’t have kids at home feel reading this…..well, my 91 ka”h year old grandma who lives alone spent a lot of time with us! She is so much fun and we really enjoyed being with her. Maybe there are neighbors or friends you could help out? Big hug!

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