Are you keenly anticipating your next family getaway? Perhaps you have visions of an idyllic and relaxing time, or maybe you're a bit apprehensive about how it's going to unfold with little ones in tow. Fresh off the plane from Bali (and knee-deep in mountains of washing!), I thought i'd share a few tips that really 'made' the holiday for me, and us.
1. Don't expect it to be 'peaceful'!
If you have the perception that on holiday you can leave all your challenges and obstacles behind, you're living in fantasy-land! Life follows you wherever you are, and with that the challenges and support of life. The more you seek peace and support, the more you're likely to call in its opposite, so have realistic expectations and avoid projecting onto your partner, kids or others how they 'should be' because you're on holiday.
2. Look for ways to fill each other's cups
A holiday is a beautiful opportunity to slow down and foster deep connection with your special ones. We connect most with others when we feel heard and valued, therefore have a think about which ways you can honour each person in your family; what do they love to do? What would feel indulgent for them? It could be a massage, some time on their own to read or catch up on sport, or a long walk together in nature. Think of how you can help them feel nourished within themselves and they will bring more willingness for connection within the family.
3. Ask for what you want
Nobody can read your mind. Not even those closest to you, so be clear on what you want and need and communicate in a caring and respectful way. On our last day in Bali, I got to the point of feeling 'touched out' by my baby daughter and so rather than harbouring this feeling inside and become resentful to others for not stepping in, I asked my husband to take over the primary care of her for the afternoon so I could get the space I needed to replenish myself.
4. Working too? Set time for it or let it go
If you plan to work while on your family holiday, it's wise to clearly communicate this, and set aside the time to do it, or it simply won't get done and you will get to the end of your holiday feeling disappointed, anxious or angry. When travelling, internet can be unreliable, children can get sick and other challenges pop up that can leave your best intentions just that - intentions, not actions. Be clear with yourself and those relying on you what you are planning to get done, focus on the essentials only, and allow yourself the space and reflection time to be inspired while on holiday, and use that as fuel when you return to work.
5. Count your blessings
It's a privilege to have the time for a holiday, whether you jet off to an exotic island, go camping or stay home. Be grateful for your holiday plans, who you are spending it with, and the challenges and opportunities that come along with it. It's easy to be thankful for the fun times, but what about the difficult moments - how did they serve you? What did they teach you? What wisdom can you gain, to grow from?
6. Expect uncertainty and go with the flow
Half the fun of travel, especially in foreign countries, is the unpredictable nature of 'what's next'; while children typically thrive on rhythm, be willing to let go of the control and structure and watch them follow suit. They are looking to you to understand how to 'be' in a new environment, so the more comfortable you are, the easier the kids will take it. There's lots you can do to prepare for this before you go - start with a list of all the things that 'could go wrong' and put steps in place to mitigate them, such as having emergency contact numbers on hand for your destination, pack well in advance, take first aid kit with both your home remedies, oils and medicines. If there's one big fear that's in the way for you, what's it's message? If what you fear came true, what would be the benefit of it happening? What would be the drawback if it didn't happen? We fear what we perceive will create more pain than pleasure in the future, but in truth nothing is missing, there is both pain and pleasure constantly conserved throughout our lives, it's just changing form so we don't always recognise it.
7. Play, play, play!
Holidays are a time for letting go of the seriousness and busyness of everyday life, to soften into joy and fun - so what ways can you set some goals for yourself to be more lighthearted? Our children beckon us into their world of play all the time, so with time on your side, join them there - the key is to just follow their laughter and 'ham it up'. Nonsense play and power reversal games are a great way to connect and also ease the tension that can come with travelling and living in confined spaces.
8. Remember to restore your mind, body and spirit
Creating the space to deeply nourish your whole self while on holiday has the potential to 'fill up' your reserves for months, taking you through the tough days of parenting and giving you boosts of inspiration when you need it most. Take advantage of the help and shared parenting to get some time out for you, to do what you love. Invite connection and pleasure into your life. Say yes to the opportunity for a massage, or an afternoon reading, or a hotel or campfire 'date night' once the kids are in bed. These can become the makings of magical memories that fuel your wellspring of abundance in your motherhood. Choose them wisely and unapologetically for the nourishment they bring you, and by extension, your family.
Bridget Wood is Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother and a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. Bridget is also the Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon upon us.