10 Ways To Avoid Family Guilt Trippin’ While You’re Off Trippin’
I love my family. I really do. I love my husband’s family too. We’re are all one big happy unit. Besides, families are fun. They put the fun in dysfunctional, right? *Smiling*
Having just returned from a month long stay in France is what has prompted me to write this post. You see, I loved Paris before I loved my husband, so I consider it gravy that my husband is a French citizen. Among other things, that means I’m entitled to long-term residency which allows me to work, live, start a business, pay taxes, etc. in the European Union. But it also means that we have obligations while we’re off trippin’ in Paris. Family obligations.
No way can we travel all the way from California to Paris and not see family members. That would lay a guilt trip on my husband that I don’t e-ven want to deal with. So since I’ve had some practice avoiding family guilt by going home to Los Angeles without always checking in with family and friends, I thought I’d give you and my darling husband 10 ways to avoid family guilt trippin’ while you’re off trippin’. (I crack myself up.)
So check this out:
- Don’t Tell Anyone You’re In Town. Easy, right? For me, yes. But for others (I know, I know), not so much. I acknowledge that everyone wouldn’t be able to handle not letting family and friends know that they’re in town. Partly because of the guilt, but mostly because you’re afraid you’ll get busted later. If you’re good at keeping secrets and you just want a little break from your loved ones, then keep a lid on your plans and enjoy your family free time away. Don’t let anyone guilt you into believing it means you don’t love them. But just be careful not to run into anyone.
- Avoid Sharing Specific Trip Dates. Okay. This is easy easier. If hanging out with family is okay while you’re on vacation but you still don’t want to commit to spending every waking moment with Uncle Ray Ray N Em, just lie fudge about your arrival date. For example, if you arrive in town on November 1 and you only have 2 weeks to paint the town red, then compromise by telling family and friends you’re coming on November 7 for a week. Once you see them, you can always tell them you changed your travel plans at the last minute so they don’t start trippin’. Same rules apply as in #1 above: Just be careful not to run into anyone.
- Stay On Your Own. Okay. Now here’s where it can get a little tricky. Whether traveling with my husband or on my own, I always get an apartment or stay in a hotel *gasp* and that’s because – ladies and gents – after about 2 days of polite smiling when I don’t feel like it, my cheeks start to hurt. #fakesmile Besides, you can’t wake up when you feel like it and you have to eat whenever the food is ready…not to mention you can’t run around in your birthday suit. And let’s not even talk about family trying to get all up in your business or expecting you to stay with them. When in France, my husband and I always get lightly scolded for not staying at the home of one of his aunts in a charming countryside town about 35 miles outside of Paris (although we’ve done it before). So it’s lucky for him I actually work while in Paris shopping for my little store, meeting with vendors, etc. so I am The Legitimate Excuse. “It just isn’t convenient,” he explains en français while pointing at me. He’s right, of course. But to make matters even more complicated, his cousins have an empty house they insist we stay in which is just under 20 miles outside of Paris. “Use our car,” they demand en français. “We insist.” We just smile and nod. Smile and nod. Besides, just imagine how we would stir the family pot if we stayed with Aunt and not Cousin or Cousin and not Aunt. Oh lord.
- Follow the 5 Hour Rule. Five hours is a fair amount of time to spend on a family visit. Anything less is probably going to hurt someone’s feelings, and anything more might remind you why five hours is too long. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but I say don’t budge on this. And boy oh boy, don’t stay at Uncle Joe’s house for 4.5 hours and Aunt Sue’s house for 5.5 hours. You already know they’re going talk.
- Drive Your Own Car. This one is easy. If someone picks you up, you’re at their mercy. Avoid the guilt of wanting to leave before or after your 5 hour window and drive your own car. Because when you’re ready to leave and folks are saying “No. Stay. Spend the night. You can wear Little Joey’s clothes tomorrow,” you can politely let them know that you have to get the car back so you can get a parking space. Or something like that.
- Fully Disclose. While you might think this sounds like a direct contradiction to #2 above, it isn’t. Plus it directly relates to #4 above as well. Tell Uncle Joe you’re going to Aunt Sue’s, even if they haven’t spoken in 20 years. Some how, some way they’ll all find out if you don’t. So full disclosure of your visitation schedule is critical.
- Bring Gifts. Just in case you have unknowingly insulted someone or feel guilty about doing any of the 10 avoidance techniques on this list, bring a lovely gift that dulls the sting.
- Accept All Gifts. If your Nana gives you a 30×20 print of a lime green cat in an orange coat to hang up in your office once you get home, accept it graciously even if you can’t fit it in your luggage. Then accidentally leave it at your hotel or apartment. Do not feel guilty. It would be worse if you didn’t accept the gift.
- Have a Handy Dandy List of Excuses. My wife is working. My cell phone battery died. I’m not feeling well. The sky is falling. You get my drift.
- Don’t Go. If #1 through #9 above are too intense or out of your comfort zone, you have two choices: You can have a family obligation vacation every time you’re in the same town as your family and friends or you can go somewhere else. Easy peasy.
P.S. All of these techniques are mere examples. I would never fib to family members. Oh no, not me.