Well, it is that time of year again. You’ve saved up the holiday leave, and the money, you’ve planned, searched and booked, probably last January just after the post-Christmas blues set in and finally it’s here: the annual summer holiday. This year will be different, we won’t squabble, cry, tear our hair out over every little thing and start wondering why we do it every year, year on year, spending what is really a small fortune, to de-camp everything we own to survive (which as it turns out is always too much but still managing to leave behind something really useful like the mosquito repellent) in a cramped space, in another country that does not even speak English where they don’t even sell good drinking tea in the supermarket. A few tips would not go astray, if we are to make the most of our precious holiday leave, especially given that most Irish people only get 21 days per year (and I hear it is far, far less in America) and we still have to keep some spare for the Christmas break and emergencies. So here are a few tips that might just make it all worthwhile.
Tip 1 – Be prepared. It sounds absolutely boring but in order to really enjoy your annual summer holiday, you need to be prepared for it. This requires planning, but not to the extent that you take the spontaneity out of it all. The more complex your life the more you need to prepare for your annual holiday. So, if you tick any of the following, the more you need to be prepared:
- A Family comes with you on the holiday (note: the higher the number of children involved, the more ticks you can apply here. I used to think that when the children got older our summer holiday would be even more enjoyable, but, teenagers do add a certain amount of challenge to the mix)
- You normally work long working hours in a challenging (stressful, demanding, undemanding!) job
- You rarely see your other half except at weekends and even then briefly and certainly not long enough to have a real discussion other than to share what’s on the schedule or what’s up with work, family, housework, shopping, bills, bins, broken hoovers, grass cutting ….
- It is rare that you can get to spend individual quality time with children or friends
- There is not much shared meal times with family (or whomever you plan on going on holiday with) except the occasional Sunday and then everyone is rushing off to watch sports on the TV or to catch-up with social media and you are left with cleaning up, again
- You have no regular down-time to rest or keep fit or anything like the pursuit of hobbies or what is often called ‘me time’ (note: exclude from here the time spent on social media, surfing the internet, shopping for clothes or watching mindless TV)
Tip 2 – Read the above again, and be prepared. In the preparation, not only consider the practical things that you will do anyway, you will need to go a step further than that if you want to maximise your precious holiday time. The more complex your life, the more steps further you will need to take. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Have a talk involving anyone who is going on the holiday (the more complex your life, the more vital this one will be) before you go. This needs to be a sharing, open, positive discussion with everyone, no matter how young they are (okay, you can exclude anyone who has not learned how to speak yet). To maximise the success chances of this, agree that when one person is talking, the others must listen until they are finished speaking and absolutely not interrupt. It might be a good idea to give the person who is talking a salt cellar (or something to hand) with the idea that when they are finished speaking they pass it to whomever wishes to speak next…
Get buy-in in advance: What do we want to spend our time doing on holiday? Where do we want to go? What do we want to see? What will we do in the evenings? Will we bring our mobile phones or laptops/tablets? Will we continue working with calls, emails? How much time will be spent doing things together, alone, with other people? If some ideas are planned out in advance and everyone buys into them, then it is a smoother more satisfactory experience all round with less arguments and yes, sadly, disappointments. So, when the youngest member wants to play board games or bat-n-ball, then if this is all agreed beforehand, no-one can opt out when you actually get there.
Decide on Behaviour
Agree on the types of behaviour that will be accepted on holiday. I know this sounds a bit too much, but it really can make the difference to the adjustments required when the group (that rarely talks or spends time together in one place) gets together in a very small space for a week or two for all meals and sleeping and everything, with maybe no TV, no wifi, no video games… Ideas here include: Being polite, no cursing, no shouting (note: this would be very important in a close apartment complex or in a camp site). Being kind to each other. Staying positive (eliminating language like: this is boring, I don’t want to go to the beach or why can’t we eat out every night, I hate what you cook). Giving each other space to enjoy what everyone likes to do best e.g., allowing parents time to themselves, even if it is only a walk on their own around the camp site (!) Cleaning up after yourself and helping out (always applicable even if holidaying in a 5 star hotel) e.g., tidy up, make your bed, hang out towels/swim wear to dry, help with the picnic, pack bags, do the recycling, go to the shop for water ….
It is very important, in fact vital, that really good example is set by those who may be older, and keep to the plans agreed by everyone involved. So, when someone decides to break what has been agreed, and without very good reason, then they need to be reminded of it and row back in, fast!
Now, all we need is some sun. Happy holidays everyone!
Anne Marie Crowley BA MSc Dip.Coaching, based in Cork Ireland, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business.
Anne Marie is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.