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The vacation is over. We’re headed home. You probably have a range of emotions swirling around you depending upon who is in your car. Some kids can’t wait to get home. There are friends to see, and their own beds to sleep in. Others dread the thought of returning to life as it was—school, chores, responsibility, boredom. What about the adults? Our emotions are all over the place as well. Familiarity beckons, but responsibilities loom large.

Many years ago I realized that whenever I returned home from being away for a vacation I felt depressed for about three days. It didn’t matter what age our kids were or if we had been away alone as a couple. I still felt blue. Coming home was a return to responsibility. It impacted each one of us in different ways. The two kids who had gotten along beautifully for a week were once again at each other’s throats. A husband who’d been “fun” seemed to turn into Mr. Serious. I became grouchy. What was the matter and why was it always like this?

I finally figured out the one word that made a difference. Re-entry. It’s a coming home phenomenon that causes slight depression. Its symptoms include, annoying exuberance, a desire to hide from all the people who want to “catch up,” a resentment toward piled up mail and unpaid bills, a general irritation with the other members in the family, and a marked lack of enthusiasm about the weeks to come. Yuck.

There’s good news though. Naming it helps: “Re-entry.” It is normal. Most people experience it. You are not alone. And best of all—it usually lasts only about three days and then it is over. I have had a longer case of “Re-entry” in my empty nest years. It’s harder to come home to work and routine when the kids are gone. Yes the peaceful household—which in the midst of five kids I once longed for—is here and it is strangely quiet, too quiet.

Re-entry has different faces; however, it does help to name it, anticipate it, and get ready for it. Plan a date night for that first week. Set aside a family night and fix a “celebration” dinner. Pull out a big poster paper and make a list of your favorite memories of your vacation. Big kids can write for little kids, “I liked it when …” Then spend some time praying together and thanking God for the particular blessings of the summer. Gratitude has a way of restoring our joy.

{Editor’s Note: This post was first featured on MomLife Today on August 5, 2014, but many have benefitted from naming “Vacation Re-entry” and taking steps to deal with it, which makes this wonderful information to reshare this summer!}

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