What makes a good family holiday for you? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and I truly believe that family holidays are a rare chance for us to reconnect. We lead such busy lives – rushing around getting work done, getting the six-year-old to her gymnastics class on time, remembering to fill in school trip forms, doing homework – it’s baffling how we actually get it all done.
Take today, for example. Mr P left for work before 6.30am, after a snatched 90 second conversation with the six-year-old (in which she relayed – in full – the convoluted story she made up at school yesterday as part of Book Week). Then I poured the six-year-old some Bran Flakes and drank a big mug of tea – within minutes, both of us were staring at screens. Me, looking at my iPhone, scrolling through Twitter, catching up on BBC News. Her, switching between CBBC and Netflix. We chatted a bit as I plaited her hair for school and brushed her teeth (although it’s always a rather one-sided conversation when one of you has a mouth full of toothpaste). The school run brought no chance for chatting because the six-year-old was on her scooter – a small dot up ahead of me as she raced her friend. Since then, my head has been in a laptop, writing, making lists, calling the council about our parking permit, putting off going to the supermarket to buy groceries and World Book Day costumes – consumed by work and life admin.
So family holidays are a chance to stop. A chance to disconnect from real life, reconnect with each other… and breathe.
For the first day of the holiday, we’re often still caught up in real life – heads swirling with thoughts of work or school. But by day two…. that’s when our shoulders start to relax. And I’m fairly sure it’s not just because of the cocktails we’ve been drinking.
I love those moments that end up sticking in your mind, long after the holiday has ended – the feeling of hot sand underfoot, water rippling over your toes, collecting shells and pebbles for sandcastles, pushing Mr P into the pool when he least expects it, giggling until our stomachs hurt when the six-year-old tries to cheat (again) at a card game, yet pleads innocence.
Do you ever find yourself looking at your family members and having a slightly out of body experience, where you think “Oh wow! I have a husband/partner and a child!”? For me, that’s a sign of being completely in the moment – of being aware of who you’re with and the time you’re spending together.
So it’s really important that a holiday destination is geared up for maximum quality family time – the easier it is for us to reconnect as a family, the better.
Have a little watch of this video where I chat a bit more about these all-important family holiday ingredients…
Of course, there are also essentials that we take with us on a holiday, to ensure it goes smoothly. When I say “essentials”… I may have a different interpretation of the word to other people, considering the fact that there is a bottle of gin pictured.
For me, holiday essentials include (clockwise from top left) a cool hat for keeping the rays off my delicate head, jazzy sunglasses that I’d probably only ever wear abroad where no-one knows me, a passport (useful to get abroad – although I have had a FEW occasions where I’ve turned up at an airport without one…), a fab summer frock (this one is a pretty off-the-shoulder denim number), a personalised luggage tag, a tasseled clutch for the evenings, a good book for poolside relaxation, GIN (I wouldn’t take this with me, it’s just to illustrate what I’d be ordering from the bar) and a bright coral nail polish – the colour that just screams HOLIDAY!
I also asked the six-year-old to tell me which items are essential for a holiday…
She chose (clockwise from top left) a jar of Nutella! Of course! Isn’t this everyone’s holiday essential? What she means is that on holiday, she gets to eat Nutella for breakfast every day (at home, it’s restricted to being a weekend treat), her sun hat, a book (she is really into Roald Dahl at the moment and is switching between Matilda, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox), her swimming costume for pool splashing, colouring pens for keeping her busy on the journey, a painting to illustrate fun activities in a kids’ club, her headphones so she can have some downtime watching some CBBC downloads, and her passport.
So, come on, tell me what are your family holiday essentials and how do you reconnect with your family, when on holiday?