There’s something about holidays that make you think that normal rules don’t apply. When you’re leaving your everyday life behind, it feels like you will have all the time in the world. You dream about all those loooong, empty days waiting for you. Then you think about all the money you’ve spent to get there. So you start making a massive list of things to do to make the most of the time.
Maybe those things include going to the top of the Eiffel Tower! Or endless rollercoasters at Disneyland! Or learning to snorkel in Fiji!
Those are all completely awesome, can’t miss, exclamation mark-worthy activities. Of course they are. You have to do them. But do you have to do them all day every day of your holiday? Is there not perhaps an inverse relationship between how many activities you do and how much you enjoy each one? What does it actually mean to make the most of the time?
And is there not something incredibly soul-reviving about doing nothing?
After all, surely you don’t want to go on holiday just to swap one To Do list for a different one? Will your holiday result in a long list of activities duly ticked off with photos to prove it? Or will you come back revitalised and refreshed, with a spring in your step and perhaps one in your relationship too?
Take a holiday that gives you what you, your partner and your kids need. A destination, a style of holiday, the plans you make, they can either give you a true respite from your life at home. Or turn you into a grumpy bitch.
Are your kids big, little or on the way?
I’ve wanted different things from a holiday at different ages and stages of life.
Before kids you’re often trying to either see the world or party hard while you’ve got the chance. We quit our jobs and spent 6 months travelling around Europe and the US, had a dream holiday in Antarctica, explored Australia and Asia and returned to Europe to hit some favourite places and walk the Cinque Terre. We weren’t super young, after all we didn’t meet until we were 28, but we wanted to pack as much in as we could before we had kids.
With new bubbas I was desperate for time to myself and alone time with hubster. Being 35 when I had my first bub, I struggled with the selflessness of motherhood after all that time doing whatever the hell I wanted. And I really missed all the one-on-one quality (ie not exhausted) time we had as a couple before kids. With no family in Sydney, our holidays were a great opportunity to go somewhere with affordable childcare like Fiji to get our fill of date nights. It was what kept me sane at the time.
With older kids I’m starting to see that somewhere along the line you can get more adventurous with travel, and holidays start to return to the things you did before kids. Since our latest trip to Fiji, I can’t think of any type of holiday that we would not enjoy doing with our kids now (they’re 7 and 5). The main barrier these days is financial! After all, with four people instead of two, a holiday costs double now what it did before.
What’s the right type of holiday for you?
Everyone is different. I can’t tell you what sort of holiday to take. But how do you like to spend your weekends?
- Is it time to reconnect with your partner?
- Time to go out and do something physical in the sunshine that you’ve missed while slaving over a hot computer all week?
- Is it all about family time and hanging out with the kids?
- Or do you like to achieve something, to get to the end of the weekend and know that you did something special?
- And how about a sleep in? Or a sneaky nanna nap in the afternoon?
- Maybe a mixture of all of the above?
Perhaps before you had kids you went a mile a minute on weekends and holidays. But with young kids your dream weekend might involve being able to drink a cup of tea without interruption. Yes babies are portable and go and trek in Nepal if that is what you yearn for. But right now you might enjoy lying by a pool with a magazine, even though you’ve never wanted to do that before.
Before kids a holiday may have meant seeing, doing, exploring. Now renting a beach house might work better. Or a cabin in one of those ritzy caravan parks with playgrounds and jumping pillows. If you really need to explore, then maybe a campervan might be the go.
If a holiday meant plenty of drinks and late nights before kids, then a resort with a kids club, nannies or babysitting services may come in mighty handy.
Don’t be a grumpy bitch
I know you’ve spent all your money to get to the Gold Coast/Japan/Italy, and you don’t know when you’ll get back there again, but what will your memories be like if you are continually exhausted? Holidays are so precious. No work, no school, no schedule. Take what you need from them. It’s not all about what you see. It’s about how you feel. It’s your time, take care of you, especially while the kids are young.
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Have your holiday preferences changed since having kids?