If the holidays are looming but, rather than being flooded with a sense of liberation, you can feel the dread creeping in, you are not alone. 70% of people would rather travel by themselves than with their families, and an incredible 65% of people find a family holiday more stressful than being at work. This is likely part of the reason that a third of British employees don’t take their full annual leave.
Presented this way, the facts paint a rather bleak picture of family life and the future of the family holiday. After all, we should look forward to family holidays. They’re one of the few times of the year that we can really set aside our responsibilities and enjoy quality time with our loved ones. This is when we can develop our bonds as families and create positive, lasting memories. The fact that so many of us dread family holidays is unquestionably sad, but it is a problem that can be solved.
Not all of your holidays need to be nerve-wracking or unbearable. In fact, if you follow our tips below, you’ll be well on your way to a relaxing, fulfilling and memorable vacation.
Stop trying so hard
You might want to create a holiday to remember forever, but do what you can to moderate your enthusiasm. If you try to cram a thousand activities into one day, you’re going to be exhausted trying to physically keep up with your own expectations. When you add to this the fact that everything takes twice as long when you have children in tow, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Activities and adventures are fantastic and should be factored into your holiday, but don’t forget about taking time out to relax. Allow yourself and your loved ones the luxury of a lie-in. Give your alarm clock some time off and don’t be so regimented with timings. If your children show a genuine interest in a particular activity, allow them to have extra time. Don’t stress about getting to the second or third destination; enjoy the moment.
You’ve not taken everyone’s interests into consideration
A holiday should be a collaborative experience. Nobody is too young for an opinion. Take the time to ask your children and partner what they would like to do, or what they want out of the holiday. They might have some really interesting contributions that you’ve never considered. Regardless of whether or not you end up ticking every activity off your list, your family will feel happy to have been included in the decision-making process.
You’re out of practice
If you only have one holiday per year, you might be feeling the pressure to get everything just right. You want to enjoy your time with your children, your children want quality time with you and you want to unwind with your partner. However, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. The stress of this reality can take its toll.
Holidays don’t need to be infrequent, and they don’t need to be expensive. Instead of having one long, two-week getaway, consider taking the occasional weekend cottage break. Make use of last minute cottage deals to save yourself planning time, effort and money. Surprise your family with an impromptu trip; they’ll appreciate the dose of excitement and adventure.
You’ve not mentally separated yourself from work
It can be hard to leave work in the office, especially when you have a high-pressured job, or one that you are truly invested in. In fact, an incredible 60% of us are so worried about what we will face on our return to work – the mass emails, the pressing deadlines, the impatient co-workers – that we are tempted to not leave in the first place.
Do yourself and your family a favour and turn your work phone off during your holiday. Give your family your undivided attention. How can your family truly relax and appreciate the time off when they can see you getting distracted every time your phone pings? And how can you get into the spirit of the holiday when you’re still, at least mentally, at your office? Show your family that they are your priority.
You’re expecting too much
We are a nation of film fanatics, and we have watched so many amazingly heart-warming tales of family bliss that we are disappointed if our holiday experience is anything short of perfect. This is quite a pressure to put on yourself. After all, life really isn’t a Disney motion picture. Sociologists argue that this self-induced pressure is the reason why holidays like Christmas can be so stressful and prompt so many fights.
To prevent this, mentally accept from the get-go that your holiday will be flawed. Take the impossible ideal of a faultless holiday off your shoulders, stop demanding perfection from your family, and the anxiety will melt away. This is a much more conducive atmosphere for relaxation, happiness and fulfilment.
We hope that you have been inspired to make the most of your summer holidays this year. Don’t be worried about the potential arguments or disappointments, and instead make the most of every second, enjoy your family time and remember that life is so much more than work and responsibility. Nurture a solid relationship with your family now so they’ll have a comforting memories to recall later in life.