09/15/2014 03:01 pm ET Updated Nov 15, 2014

My Summer Work-cation

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"What did you do on your summer vacation?"

It's the question every school kid faces on the first day of every new school year.

"What did you do on your summer vacation?"

It's also the big topic of small-talk for a few weeks following Labor Day weekend. I've been asked three times today alone, and it's not even noon yet!

The answer for me this summer is simple: I had a work-cation.

My two kids came home from college this summer, working full-time for the first time. Between their schedules and my job, there was just no time for a proper summer vacation. No two-week blockbuster vacation for the Joseph family this year. We had years when we could pull that off, but not anymore.

So I had a work-cation... and I split the two weeks into two different installments, but I worked during both of them.

My first work-cation was the week of the Fourth of July when we were all visiting my parents for our annual pilgrimage to Williamsburg, Virginia. Where better to celebrate Independence Day?

Two adult men, two adult "kids," two grandparents, one sister and a French Bulldog all nestled together for the better part of a week. All we were missing was the partridge in the pear tree. The timing was terrible for me, given a bunch of activity at work, but it's not like I could move the holiday.

So here we are trying to spend quality family time together, and I'm on conference calls, one after another. The round trip car ride was filled with conference calls, so the kids had their ears filled with headphones to drown out my work voice.

Basically, I was working from home for my vacation. Work-cation. But at least I was with my family for meals, happy hours and shopping trips for back-to-school clothing. The outlet shopping in Williamsburg, Virginia is fabulous!

My second week of vacation was when I was moving my kids back to college. Shopping, packing, driving, unpacking, and organizing filled the entire week. It was an entire week of work.

Basically, I was working for the kids that entire week. But at least I was with my family for all the things they needed me for that week. I actually really enjoyed it.

Vacations have changed, and please understand that I am not complaining. I'm actually relishing in it and merely noting a sea change. Just because we decide to take PTO doesn't mean the rest of the working world acknowledges it. The demands keep coming, even with an OOO message activated.

Work doesn't stop, and neither does parenting! As working parents, we don't really get real vacations anymore. Sure, when the kids were younger we would cram in a family vacation... for me that was way before smartphones, when we really could unplug for a few days. Sure, the inbox would pile up, but you'd worry about that when you got back. Not anymore! With adult kids, demanding 24/7 jobs and constant access, I can't turn off anymore. I have to "work" during our vacations, and I know most others do the same.

We no longer have vacations... we have work-cations. Truth be told, I love it. I love the constant energy and activity that comes from, well, being needed. My kids still need me and work still needs me. At this stage in my life, I wouldn't have it any other way.