“No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.” Elbert Hubbard
It’s Vacation Season
For many people, Memorial Day marks the beginning of vacation season. Some headed to the beach this past weekend, others to the mountains. The parks were filled with horseshoes, Frisbees and the smell of charring hamburgers. The roads were filled with campers, RVs, boat trailers … and cars crammed with piles of vacation gear.
“Those that say you can’t take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip.” Unknown
The problem with vacations is that they come to an end. We pack up our stuff, wave goodbye and head home. We pull into the driveway, step out of the car, stretch stiff muscles, greet the lonely cat and smile, glad to have made it safely through another vacation.
Then it hits: An entire carload of sweaty, dirty, sandy, damp, smelly stuff—not to mention all the other stuff you threw in “just in case” but never actually used—which must now be unloaded, unpacked, disassembled, opened up, soaked, sanitized, laundered, rinsed off, wiped out, aired out, dried out, folded up, rolled up, re-strapped, re-stowed, re-packed and put away (preferably on the shelf where it actually belongs.)
Don’t get me wrong; I love vacations. Some of my most cherished memories, both as a child and as a parent, have come from vacations. I am not suggesting vacations should be avoided, but I am suggesting that Post-Vacation Stuff Disorder (PVSD) is a serious problem—one that has not been given the scholarly attention that it deserves. In an attempt to alleviate the alarming indifference to the thousands of PVSD sufferers, I have compiled a list of possible strategies to overcome this dangerous, and possibly sanity-threatening, condition.
Dealing with PVSD
- Vacation Plus Two Some people reserve an extra vacation day to deal with the chaos of post-vacation stuff. Then they take another day to recover before facing the teetering pile of work waiting in their inbox.
- The Gold Star Method Some people choose the reward method: they allow themselves to post one vacation photo on facebook for every item they clean and put away. (This method works best for those who actually remember to take photos.)
- Go Green Others enlist Mother Nature to help by leaving everything in the driveway until the next thunderstorm rinses the beach sand or campfire ash from their gear. Another day or two of sunshine dries it out and it’s ready to be stowed. For the very thorough, rotate all items 180 degrees and repeat the above steps to ensure dirt removal on all surfaces.
- The Hunger Game Announce to the family that the kitchen is closed until everything is properly cleaned up and put away. Note: Anyone trying this approach must be vigilant to prevent boxes of cereal purloined from next door or pizza deliverymen from minimizing the threat. For added emphasis, place the PB & J sandwich that was dropped in the sand (twice) out on the counter. (If you see that someone has taken bits out of it, you might need to take more drastic measures to ensure success.)
- Divide and Conquer This approach involves dividing the gear amongst family members so everyone shares in the chore of bring order to the disorder. In the basic version of this remedy, a pile goes in every bedroom and every person is allowed to deal with it at his or her own rate. For accelerated results, place the pile in the driveway directly behind a vehicle, or on top of a laptop, or in some similar place that motivates prompt cooperation.
- The Science Project This method works best when you’ve enjoyed a devastating rainstorm which resulted in a wet tent, soggy sleeping bags, waterlogged luggage, muddy shoes, and damp everything else. Instead of going to all the work of setting up camp all over again once you get home, simply stow everything in watertight bags or containers and put it away the basement. A few weeks later, bring it out and study the interesting mold cultures you’ve been growing. Don’t forget to document your finds with photos before disposing of all that nasty, mildewed gear.
“No vacation goes unpunished.” Karl Hakkarainen
All right, I’ll stop. But the specter of PVSD remains. Vacation is not over the moment you pull in the driveway. The dirty laundry, slimy coolers, crumby car seats and other chaos remains. Someone has got to deal with it.
How do you deal with the disorder of post-vacation stuff?