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Pressure to be perfect – the great family staycation.

1
We’d arrived after a six-hour drive.  A quick mental list – sort out the food, check the dinner was defrosted, unpack suitcases – actually, the dog needs a walk too.  I glanced round to see bodies, exhausted from the exertion of carrying small rucksacks from the car, sprawled on sofas in a heightened state of anxiety discussing the Wi-Fi password – no help with unpacking here.  Sighing, I looked out of the cottage window – a cloud appeared on the horizon.

 

Family holidays – those chunks of the year we plan and save for, look

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forward to – I do love them, but have come to accept the gaping chasm between expectation and reality.  This year the uncertainty over whether to book, cancel, postpone, stay home or staycation meant the annual break has been on our minds more than ever.

 

As children grow up time away becomes trickier.  Ironic, when they’re tiny you dream about how much easier it will be when they’re older.  Now, rather than changing nappies and saving them from drowning, you’re fighting the niggling worry they would rather be somewhere else.  You

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want to keep your family together, but they increasingly need independence and time with friends – how you want to spend your days can seem incompatible.

 

I’d been sold the dream of the UK staycation.  We wouldn’t miss guaranteed temperatures and a pool (we would), but instead would enjoy a week in a cute cottage near craggy coastlines and long, windswept beaches – plus the dog could come too.  I know we were lucky to have a change of scene and it only rained solidly for one day – but there are key points to remember when swallowing

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the holiday reality pill.

 

Your life will probably be the same after the holiday as it was before.  Am I alone in thinking I’ll transform my existence using holiday time to make life changing decisions?  I bought an A4 pad to write down my plans – page one is still blank.

 

You will do the same jobs as at home – but probably with less space and without your own ‘stuff.’  In low moments on self-catering holidays it will be you trying to rustle up dinner with one blunt knife and two tiny pans with the few ingredients

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gleaned from a bemused, random shop in an unfamiliar local supermarket.

 

The weather – accept it will probably be better at home.

 

Teenage specific issues:

Remember you are holidaying in different time zones. They won’t emerge till late morning, so any planned early starts or all-day excursions will be marred by heated exchanges.
Accept they will be permanently attached to their phones and everyone on social media will be having a much better time.
Teenagers do not ‘get’ scenery. Exclamations such as, ‘Look at

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that view!’ are met with competitive eye rolling.  Suggestions of, ‘We’ll just have a wander,’ result in baffled or disdainful expressions.
They’re also not that keen on walking.

 

I realise any escape from normality is a privilege, especially this year.  We had some great times – those funny, laugh out loud moments which tend to only happen when there’s time to relax.  The key is to lower our expectations a little – the desire to keep everyone happy isn’t attainable.  We’re dipping our toes into the time when our

SelfishMother.com
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children won’t always want to come away.  Maybe our clashes will mean we’ll appreciate being able to do what what we want without the moaning when that time comes (although I might just miss it when it’s gone).

 

When we returned, I posted photographs on Facebook and a friend commented how lovely it looked – they’d had a similar holiday planned but cancelled as their boys felt they’d spent enough time with their parents during lockdown.  They had a point!  I reassured him how, as we all know, pictures rarely tell the whole

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story.  However, no harm in posting a carefully edited selection to con everyone into thinking it was the perfect family holiday – in a few months’ time when I look back, I’ll think so too.  And top tip – take your dog, they will have a marvellous time!
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- 12 Aug 20

We’d arrived after a six-hour drive.  A quick mental list – sort out the food, check the dinner was defrosted, unpack suitcases – actually, the dog needs a walk too.  I glanced round to see bodies, exhausted from the exertion of carrying small rucksacks from the car, sprawled on sofas in a heightened state of anxiety discussing the Wi-Fi password – no help with unpacking here.  Sighing, I looked out of the cottage window – a cloud appeared on the horizon.

 

Family holidays – those chunks of the year we plan and save for, look forward to – I do love them, but have come to accept the gaping chasm between expectation and reality.  This year the uncertainty over whether to book, cancel, postpone, stay home or staycation meant the annual break has been on our minds more than ever.

 

As children grow up time away becomes trickier.  Ironic, when they’re tiny you dream about how much easier it will be when they’re older.  Now, rather than changing nappies and saving them from drowning, you’re fighting the niggling worry they would rather be somewhere else.  You want to keep your family together, but they increasingly need independence and time with friends – how you want to spend your days can seem incompatible.

 

I’d been sold the dream of the UK staycation.  We wouldn’t miss guaranteed temperatures and a pool (we would), but instead would enjoy a week in a cute cottage near craggy coastlines and long, windswept beaches – plus the dog could come too.  I know we were lucky to have a change of scene and it only rained solidly for one day – but there are key points to remember when swallowing the holiday reality pill.

 

Your life will probably be the same after the holiday as it was before.  Am I alone in thinking I’ll transform my existence using holiday time to make life changing decisions?  I bought an A4 pad to write down my plans – page one is still blank.

 

You will do the same jobs as at home – but probably with less space and without your own ‘stuff.’  In low moments on self-catering holidays it will be you trying to rustle up dinner with one blunt knife and two tiny pans with the few ingredients gleaned from a bemused, random shop in an unfamiliar local supermarket.

 

The weather – accept it will probably be better at home.

 

Teenage specific issues:

  • Remember you are holidaying in different time zones. They won’t emerge till late morning, so any planned early starts or all-day excursions will be marred by heated exchanges.
  • Accept they will be permanently attached to their phones and everyone on social media will be having a much better time.
  • Teenagers do not ‘get’ scenery. Exclamations such as, ‘Look at that view!’ are met with competitive eye rolling.  Suggestions of, ‘We’ll just have a wander,’ result in baffled or disdainful expressions.
  • They’re also not that keen on walking.

 

I realise any escape from normality is a privilege, especially this year.  We had some great times – those funny, laugh out loud moments which tend to only happen when there’s time to relax.  The key is to lower our expectations a little – the desire to keep everyone happy isn’t attainable.  We’re dipping our toes into the time when our children won’t always want to come away.  Maybe our clashes will mean we’ll appreciate being able to do what what we want without the moaning when that time comes (although I might just miss it when it’s gone).

 

When we returned, I posted photographs on Facebook and a friend commented how lovely it looked – they’d had a similar holiday planned but cancelled as their boys felt they’d spent enough time with their parents during lockdown.  They had a point!  I reassured him how, as we all know, pictures rarely tell the whole story.  However, no harm in posting a carefully edited selection to con everyone into thinking it was the perfect family holiday – in a few months’ time when I look back, I’ll think so too.  And top tip – take your dog, they will have a marvellous time!

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Suzy, a teacher and writer, lives near the coast in Hampshire with her husband, three children and Lola the schnoodle.

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