Family holidays are, to be honest, a very first world phenomena. Initially there were religious holidays, and then there was the rather more relaxed ‘vacation’ which started with the upper crust of British Society when they ‘vacated’ their usual houses and moved, staff and all, to the ‘summer house’. These days we will pack a few belongings into a plastic bag and zip off on a mini-break at the drop of a hat.
What we call a holiday or vacation can really be called a simple change in scenery with no actual break from any of the things that you really need a break from. Things like cooking, cleaning and wrangling your children into some kind of order. Camping, renting a holiday house, house swapping, or staying with friends or relatives – they all pretty much involve all the everyday duties you have access to in your own home. But somehow it’s still a break.
However and where ever your family holiday, getting home and getting back into your usual routine can kill that holiday feeling faster than a shot of Mortien will knock a mozzie dead in mid-air.
To stay on holiday longer try the following:
a) Arrival times
Arriving home the day before school starts and everyone else rushes off to work will knock any rejuvenation you have, right back out of you. Plan to arrive home with a buffer of a few days so you don’t launch back into real life with only a 7 hour jet-lagged snooze to help you cope. By following the next two steps, you will be able to ease back into your actual life without any harsh bumps or jolts.
b) Your home is a destination too!
This takes a bit of pre-planning – which is the last thing you need as you are trying to get the dog to the kennel, the children packed, the husband to the airport on time, the neighbour to remember to water the plants, your legs waxed, the grocery delivery cancelled and meet that final work deadline. But it is worth doing this – even if you can’t manage tip 1 or 3 – this one makes all the difference. Turn your home into an exciting destination! Make sure your house is immaculate. Put clean sheets on all the beds before you leave, put all the clothes away, tidy the kitchen, clean out the fridge, clean the bathroom, tidy every surface. Get rid of all the piles of paperwork. Vacuum. Empty the dishwasher. Immaculate. When you arrive home you will walk into the house you wish you could walk into at the end of every day. Place all your luggage neatly in the laundry and close the laundry door.
c) Extend your holiday attitude
Obviously you house won’t stay immaculate once the rest of your family walk through the door, however try to stay relaxed about the inevitable toy-storm that will hit as your children rediscover every single toy and/or item of clothing they own. Don’t cook dinner; order takeaway or go out. Same with breakfast; go and eat at a cafe. And then go and do something relaxing; meet friends at the park, go to a museum, the zoo or the aquarium. Do whatever it takes to stay away from the domestic tasks that fill up the rest of your life for as long as possible.
By extending your holiday attitude and not settling back into everyday routines, you will be able to stay relaxed and calm once you do get back into the school/work/domestic duty march.
Camille Blyth is the author of The Wilderness Years, the must read parenting book of 2014. She is also the creator of The Family Beast where she celebrates the randomness of family life, the dullness of housework, and a particular loathing of the kitchen.