I’m just back from a month-long overseas holiday. A month! No work, no cleaning, minimal meal preparation… bliss, right? It totally was! That said, you might think that I’m feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and renewed – in fact, all the r-words – but alas, I am not. Are mums ever any r-words after a family holiday?
See, when you go on holidays, you have to take the kids with you. Which means that you take all the ‘muuuuum, can I’s and the ‘muuuuum, watch me’s and the ‘muuuuuum, she hit me’s with you. You know what they say: same sh*t, different location. Add to that the fact that your new ‘location’ is probably a hotel room that’s the size of your bathroom back home, and you can guarantee that ‘family bonding moments’ will most likely be quantity over quality.
As much as Europe (yes, we went to Europe and I probably sound like a whinging brat right now), was wonderful and distracting, I couldn’t help but miss all the systems I have carefully cultivated over the years to make home life smooth and enjoyable. Matter of fact, no matter where we go, I think most family holidays end up being equal parts stressful and wonderful.
Here’s what I’m doing this week to help myself have a holiday from my holiday.
1. Start preparing to be home before you even leave: Packing for a holiday is always so exhausting that I’m often tempted to shut the door on the house in any old state. Then I remind myself that sadly the fairies are unlikely to visit while we are on holidays and so whatever is messy now, will still be messy when I’m back. I give the house a quick spruce, change all the bed sheets and give the floors a good vacuum right before we leave. So much nicer to come home to.
2. Get the unpacking done straightaway: It is next to impossible to relax when you’re staring down the barrel of 10 loads of washing, so I always just get the bags unpacked and the first load on as soon as we get home. Punch through the tiredness and just get it done. The more you can do before when you first get back home, the nicer you’ll feel when you wake the next morning.
3. Keep the takeaway coming: As much as we often crave a proper home cooked meal when we’re back from holiday, for the first few days back we always get takeaways or eat out. It’s tiresome having to go to the supermarket and meal plan the minute we get home, so we pick up some bread and milk and we make do for a little longer. That way I’m not immediately hit with the post-holidays blues because I can kinda-sorta pretend I’m still on hols.
4. Create a buffer zone: I think we are like most families in that we tend to be outside together more on holiday than at home, but there’s no reason why that needs to be the case. As a buffer between ‘holiday time’ and ‘real life’ we keep the TV switched off and spend as much time outside as we can. We also lay low from friends and other obligations for a while – nobody really needs to speak to us the second we are back, surely. We try to keep the family holiday bubble unpopped for as long as we can.
5. Add in some parent time: One thing that is definitely in short supply on holidays is time alone with my man. Especially when you stay in hotel rooms and the whole family bunks in together. As soon as we are back, we reinstate the bedtimes and the rules so that we manage to get some much-needed time together.
6. Holiday in your home town: Just because we are back from exotic locales (which may or may not usually be our local Big4 – it definitely ain’t Europe every time!), doesn’t mean we have to finish the holiday. We book a nice family meal out for after work / school the first week we are back and we also try to visit a local Sydney attraction to add onto our holiday fun. This year we headed straight down the South Coast for the weekend and spent it swimming in Jervis Bay, lounging on the back deck and eating ice cream. It washed all our jetlag away and truly was a holiday from our holiday.
What do you do to rejuvenate after a big holiday?
More travel stories for wanderlust families:
- 5 Rituals for Making Your Hotel Feel Like Home
- 5 Common Holiday Meltdown Scenarios (& How to Avoid Them)
- 8 Kid-Friendly European Luxury Hotels