A Vacation in My Own Home: Why I Unplugged

A Vacation in My Own Home: Why I Unplugged

I was on deadline Friday night. I stayed up until 2AM writing for a client to push to get it all done. I had already extended the deadline far too many times, and I knew if I didn’t get all the writing done before bed, it would spill into the next week. Why? My daughter’s first birthday party was the next day and my whole family was coming to stay for two days. And this is why I forced myself to finally get all my backlogged work done, and after that, why I unplugged: I wanted to take a vacation in my own home.

Vacation From What?

I am starting my own business; it is messy; it is busy; it is organized chaos. My days typically consist of morning writing, a quick motivational piece for my Facebook group for empowered women, then catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, and my own website. All of this takes about an hour, involved finding a quote I love that relates to the empowerment theme of the day, writing my response to said quote, posting on social media, and responding to others’ comments from the night before.

Often, amid this work my children wake up, jump on me, and require breakfast, and, you know, attention.Β 

I spend the morning with my kids after that, usually out at a park. We come home for lunch and nap time. Celaya and I do some reading together after her sister goes down, and then she heads to her iPad and I head to my desk. We spend a couple hours of quiet time, each in our own private worlds.

At this point I work on anything I have for clients, respond to messages and comments on social media, and organize any must dos on the personal front, bills, appointment setting, etc.

Once Matilda wakes up, we all come back together for play time, snacks, snuggles, and then I either head off to my tutoring center or out for a run, depending on the day.

Afternoons are flexible, dinner is routine, the kids play after dinner with Carlos, and I do a bit of work before bath and bedtime. Once the kids are in bed, Carlos usually turns in early, and I am back at my desk, writing, responding, networking, planning, etc.

I have really taken to this routine; I thrive in it. I have cut one more day out of my tutoring schedule, so I can be home more with the kids, and make this freelance writing and public speaking thing really work.

But, But, But

But, it is constant. I enjoy it thoroughly, but life is full and nonstop. For my whole life, I had plenty of downtime and relaxation built into every day of my life. I watched lots of shows during nap time or after bedtime, I read a lot, and I had alone time.

Since August, when I started this new venture, I have to schedule in time for myself. I have to force myself to relax, unwind, watch a movie, spend time with my husband! I have to remind myself that if I don’t take time for myself and for the people closest to me (the kids don’t count, I couldn’t ignore them if I tried) then all of this is for nothing.

I’ll be a hugely successful writer and public speaker who is dying on the inside and has let her relationships fall by the wayside.

This weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to, for the first real solid time, unplug, and just be in love with the people in my life.

The Party

Saturday was the party, and I hit the ground running. I had about forty people coming, so I needed to start food and decorations, get ice and balloons, and get myself and the kids ready by 4PM.

I made three kinds of meat, carnitas, shredded beef, and shredded chicken for tacos. I had bought the giant packs of guacamole and red salsa from Costco. Carlos had made a giant pot of beans the night before. We also had veggies and ranch, fresh fruit, and the crowning glory: the iced lemon cake.

I put the beef in the crock pot, the chicken in the stock pot, and cubed the pork for hours of braising in a cast iron skillet.

I ran out for the stuff you have to get the day of: ice and balloons. I also wanted a few more decorations for the cake.

headed out for party errands

By the time I got home, my sisters had arrived with my brother in law and my niece and nephew. My oldest was distracted with her cousins, and the birthday girl was still napping. I put my sisters to work decorating and got back into the kitchen. My brother decorated the cake we had made the night before, and we began putting food on the table.

My guests arrived right around 4, and as they were walking in, the last touches were put in place.

The party was wonderful. My extended family was all there, my immediate family was all there, and my friends were all in attendance. Fortunately, my apartment and patio are nice and spacious, so the kids ran and played, the grown ups ate and drank and visited, and I walked from group to group and got to spend at least a little time with everyone.

Matilda cried when we finished singing to her; it must be overwhelming to have forty people singing to you in the dark. She barely ate her smash cake; she had been quite constipated up to that point. And she was ready for bed by the time everyone headed out around 7PM.

I put the baby to bed in the back of the house and just sat and visited with my sisters and brother as our children played.

Family Time

Sunday was a family reunion day for my mother’s side of the family, so we spent the afternoon visiting with aunts and cousins. We grabbed Chipotle for dinner, and we spent the evening, well into the morning, up and visiting, just us sisters.

We laughed, we shared memories, we commiserated over hard times, and we listened to each other.

And the whole time, the entire time, I barely looked at my phone. And I never got on the computer once. My fingers never touched this keyboard.

I took the fewest photos of any weekend I’ve ever spent at a party or with family.

I just loved my family and my friends. I just listened to stories and shared my own. I just let my heart fill up.

And my heart did indeed fill up.

This is easily the first time in my life when I have been perfectly at peace with every single person and every single experience at play. I was fully present, and it was amazing.

I have spent the last several months sending out apology messages to the few people in my life to whom I have been an asshole, with no expectation of forgiveness or reciprocation.

I have spent the last few weeks getting to a completely judgment free place in my life. This is obviously a work in progress, but it is a remarkable feeling even in its infancy.

I am not competing with, comparing myself to, or working to impress or judge anyone. Anyone at all.

I am at peace, and I spent a weekend that could have been stressful and too busy and chaotic… at peace.

Joy and Peace

This, I finally understand, is what a genuine, constant joy feels like.

I found in my own home what people, myself included, travel miles to get, struggle to find, and then come home without. I found genuine peace for a whole weekend.

Because I’m working on peace within.

I took a vacation in my own home. I unplugged. I leaned into loving the people in my life.

And it felt great. Great enough to want to replicate, to want to grow, to want to spread.

It is Monday now, and everyone has gone home, the decorations are down, the refrigerator is empty, the cake plate is clean.

But my heart is full.

It is good to be back at my keyboard, back on social media, back in the fray.

But this weekend was a two day reminder that in order to have something to talk about, to write about, to post about, to connect about, I have to have experiences worthy of all of that.

And if I am going to have experiences, I want them to be the best they can be.

And in order for them to be the best they can be, I have to be in them, fully, unequivocally, present.

Although in the future I will be sure to take a few more pictures.


  • Kamal says:

    You should be doing more of this. As you are aware this is a WIP but therapeutic even in its infancy.

    We all live not much in our physical body but more in the hearts of people who matter.

    In some point in time in future success will be defined by the happiness quotient and not in the wealth we would have accumulated.

    Be Happy Always. Godd Bless.

  • Stephanie says:

    It’s easy to get bogged down into everything that goes into a blog- it’s so much! But definitely true you need to take time away in order to have things to write about.

  • Kim Quint says:

    Over the holidays I did the same. Just wanted to be present with family that we hadn’t seen in quite some time. I think I came back refreshed for sure!

    • Shanna S Mathews-Mendez says:

      right? Now we just have to remember to do it more often, definitely before we get desperate for it!

  • Mollie says:

    Congratulations on starting your own business! The party sounds like a total success and it is so important to unplug! I did this more around the holidays and it is amazing how much joy and peace it brings to just be with your family and friends!

  • Vessy says:

    I absolutely relate to this post, which by the way is wonderfully written! I unplugged once before to be with family and Nature, and it was the most fulfilling experience ever!
    Great post as always! 😊❀️😊

  • Wendy says:

    Thanks for this reminder! I have to learn to do the same. I work full time (well 40+), have a blog and side business, and two kids. I am constantly going. I actually wanted to stop and watch a movie tonight, but felt guilty and kept going. You have been an inspiration. About to unplug. πŸ™‚

  • Brittany says:

    I am attempting to start a blogging business myself and you are so right- it is CONSTANT! I read somewhere that entrepreneurs are the only people to quit a 40/week job in order to work an 80/week job πŸ™‚ We recently went on a vacation and had little to no service. At the end of the week I told my husband how I didn’t even miss the constant-ness of social media! Good for you for unplugging! I am sure it was refreshing in many ways!

    • Shanna S Mathews-Mendez says:

      it was, and now I have to remember to do it regularly. Haha I definitely feel the 80 hour a work aspect though!

  • Heidi says:

    I think we all need to remind ourselves that we need a vacation from daily activities! It can be so beneficial to our health. πŸ™‚

  • Laura Belle says:

    Every so often I have to just take a break for a few days to keep my sanity. I’m kind of an all or nothing person. I either go, go, go like crazy or I do absolutely nothing but relax.

  • Maggie says:

    What a lovely family and a life I’m a bit envious of πŸ˜‰. You’re right. Sometimes you have to actually, like, live, in order to have something of substance and beauty to share with others.

  • I find it very interesting that I have unplugged the last couple days as well (other than the absolute necessary), and found my joy again too. Hmmm. Let’s not get so caught up in the busy and the ambitions of a driven personality to forget what really matters. Although I’ll continue forward with writing, I’m making it a point to focus more on my family these days, trusting that in the long run it will pay off more than any amount of gratification I get through writing.

    • Shanna S Mathews-Mendez says:

      yes! and that the writing comes more naturally when we don’t insist that we “must be writing,” “should be writing,” “have to be writing right now.”

  • Dee says:

    I loved reading this. Your day sounds a lot like mine except I also have to leave my house the hours from 4-7 every afternoon to tutor. I always unplug on the weekends otherwise I feel like I never spend time with my daughter since she goes to school.

    • Shanna S Mathews-Mendez says:

      yes! three days a week I leave from 3 to 10 to tutor. I homeschool though, so leaving for tutoring is a much needed (and well paid) break! Haha

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