Want to know the secret of a good summer break? Spend some time apart from your family and friends.
The holiday brochures, TV advertisements, friend’s photos on Facebook and Instagram are all showing families in each other’s pockets, beaming and having a great time aren’t they? But are their stories, the verbal catch up telling you the same thing? Very often the answer is no; that at some point everyone got on each other’s nerves, said the wrong thing or the presence of so many people in one space just got too much and their four year olds meltdowns increased both in frequency and decibels.
Sometimes it’s the close quarters that we find ourselves in as we arrive at the cleverly described holiday home where ‘cute and cosy’ actually translate as squeezed and pokey. We know that we are meant to appreciate the charm of the cottage or quaint village but sometimes unused to the new and small space things get on top of us- quite literally and the pressure builds.
A mismatch between the imagined holiday break and the reality can also start the decline and discontentment as irritation with even the smallest mishap that typically we would ordinarily take in our stride in our everyday life takes on magnified proportions and tempers can fray.
Children too can find new and unfamiliar spaces and places stressful and their anxiety can come over as ingratitude when in fact they are coping with holiday stress also- albeit on a different scale.
Or maybe you’re at home and the need to fill every waking hour with a ‘fun activity’ or playdate is just becoming too much; those things that are meant to be enjoyable are becoming a chore and everyone is miserable and more tired than at the start of the summer break from school or work.
So plan to consciously make time to have time apart in different spaces, time to wind down on your own- we’re not talking different holiday homes or even different continents here, just avoid the temptation to over plan every waking moment, whether you are at home or on holiday and actively spend some time on your own, even just in the room next door for five minutes. Encourage your children to do the same, helping them organise their own time and choice of activities to include some element of ‘empty time’. It works wonders at recharging our batteries and often makes you happy to be in the company of those people who were getting on your nerves five minutes ago!