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How To Un-Spoil A Family Holiday
Ever the optimist, I always go on holidays with high expectations. Before we go I imagine lazing around and enjoying sleep ins. In my head the kids are perfect, and SquiggleDad and I get to hang out together like we did BC. I expect that we’ll all have fun together, reconnect as a family, and return to the real world refreshed. As I said, I’m an optimist!
With expectations like those, you can understand why I’ve been disappointed with family holidays in the past. Each holiday we have taken though has helped me to learn a little more about myself, my husband, our family dynamics, and how to make sure the holiday is great for all of us. So here are my 5 tips on how to un-spoil a family holiday:
- Ditch your expectations. I don’t think the media are on our side here. Ads with stereotypical “happy families” on holiday in exotic locations put images in our minds that reality can’t live up to. Even at our happiest on a beautiful beach, my family doesn’t look like we belong in a commercial. My hair is frizzy from the sea air, I’m a little self conscious because I don’t look quite as I did two children ago, the kids are probably a bit grotty, and my husband has bags under his eyes. That doesn’t mean we aren’t happy! It just means we are real. Having unrealistic expectations of what your family holiday will look like is bound to spoil your time away.
- Delay your departure. I don’t know about you, but by the time we escape for a holiday we are actually long overdue for it. This means that my husband and I are both tired, stressed and overwhelmed by the busyness of life. Changing our environment doesn’t necessarily change those feelings. One thing we have learned (the hard way) is that we benefit from a day at home before we leave. Sometimes the rush to “get there” is just another stress. A chilled out day at home helps us both to unwind so that we can enjoy the holiday.
- Divide and conquer. There is still a lot of work to be done when you holiday with young kids. Nappies to change, children to bath, tables to wipe down, dishes to wipe up, floors to sweep. (We didn’t do ANY of this on our holidays BC! We slept in, ate out, and did zero chores.) I find that dividing the chores up before we go helps me to feel like I am having a holiday too. I am grateful to be able to opt out of nappy changes for a few days! We also take turns giving each other a sleep in.
- Treat everyone (including yourself). Everyone deserves to feel special on holidays. In our family we each choose a holiday activity to do together – mum, dad and kids. The four of us have different ideas of fun, so this way we all get to share with each other. I usually choose markets or a bushwalk, SquiggleDad usually chooses a nice restaurant for a meal, and the kids choose anything from the beach to the zoo!
- Simplify. The simpler you make the holiday, the easier and more enjoyable it will be. Keep your days simple, and don’t try to cram too much in. Keep the routine simple and predictable. Even on holidays young kids need normal bedtimes and daytime naps. Pack simple essentials – play clothes, a couple of familiar bedtime stories, a toy for each child, a few kitchen essentials. Eat simply. And enjoy the simplicity.
A family holiday is bound to be spoiled if you have unrealistic expectations, leave in a rush and arrive stressed out, don’t give yourself a break from some of the mundane, focus only on the kids, and complicate things. Do yourself a favour and un-spoil your next trip!
What other tips do you have for un-spoiling a family holiday? I’d love to hear anything you’ve tried while on holiday with kids. Leave your comments and suggestions below!
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