Last weekend, we headed up to Grand Lake, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park for a long weekend. Each year we try to take three days before tax season begins. It’s a time to connect as a family and get outdoors before Frank starts working late nights and 6 days a week.
This year, we met friends who had moved to the western side of the state. We reconnected, our girls played together, and we were reminded why we love loving in Colorado.
When we got home, Frank and I decided to plan out what our schedule over the next three months would look like. Because our time will be at a premium and because we will become like ships passing in the night, we’ve found (through years of trial and error) that planning ahead helps alleviate stress. Of course, life happens and things don’t always go as planned, but this helps. We plan when Frank will be home; which nights will be family dinner nights; how to manage the home office and children; and our one two-day weekend that we’ll take at the end of March.
For as much as I love planning and having a map of expectations, I also love surprises and spontaneity. When it was just the two of us, tax season was rough, but there was more allowance for a bit of unknown. Now, Bea wants to know if she’ll see dad before bed – and I want to know what I can tell her. Even phone calls and texts are pared way down during this crazy season.
Even though it seems like we over-plan these three months, in reality, the planning helps us enjoy the surprises more. If there’s a slow day (rare but it happens!) it’s so much nicer to have Frank unexpectedly come home for dinner rather than always hoping.
This will be our seventh tax season together and I know it will still be hard. There will still be miscommunication due to lack of actual face-to-face conversations. I’ll still be stressed and hate the world of accounting. I’ll be furious that April 15 is not our end date this year – that, due to a city holiday in Washington, DC, one more weekend will be taken away from our family.
And yet. Our community comes around and helps us through. Friends understand when we can’t get together. Other friends come over to keep me company and help with the kids. My parents feed us and are here a lot more. When we skip church to go on a hike, we are rejuvenated and refreshed and reconnected even more than on a regular hike.
And, each year I am reminded that I can do this. That the blessings of community building throughout the rest of the year come into play even more this time of year. And that, somehow, we make it through.
I know we’re not alone – from families in the military to those who have a spouse who travels for work – any suggestions? Each year looks a bit different and I’m always looking for advice and ideas!