Ahh, holidays. A break from routine to recharge the batteries. A few moments where you try and relax and celebrate life once more. A period of quality time, new experiences and of course endless arguments. In other words, a designated collection of days where you get to remember why you celebrated the kids finally going to school.
For a lot of us parents, it can be more stressful than the humdrum routine. How many times have you returned from a vacation feeling like you need a holiday to get over it? It can be even worse for stay-at-home parents. It’s great if you have a partner who sees the holiday as a chance to spend time with the kids and play but if you happen to be with someone who isn’t ‘maternally motivated’ then it can become quite a problem.
Phrases such as “Oh I just want some time to myself” or “I’ve always really wanted to do this (non-child friendly activity)” or “it’s a (vaguely) work-related thing” can sometimes leave you counting to 10 in your head. Or 100.
“I won’t be too long. You and the kids will have fun without me.” 1000.
Let’s face it: even if you get away to a lovely and exotic destination, there are times when parenting frustration levels make the background setting irrelevant. I have to admit I’m part of the problem here: I often catch myself thinking “Oh they work extremely hard so they deserve some time to themselves” and let them go off. But while that line of thinking is selfless it doesn’t actually help your stress levels.
I should point out that despite my flippant tone, I actually love holidays and the extra time with my kids. It’s just that it can be exhausting. During our recent three-month sabbatical in the US, my favourite memories were reveling in the sheer joy of the twins playing in snow. Their laughter, exuberance and energy were infectious. But my third favourite memory was probably getting to go a movie alone and enjoying a few hours without harsh words, tears and arguments. It was these moments that allowed me to reflect on the experiences the girls were having and make me appreciate how fortunate I am to be the father of exceptional young ladies. Sometimes you just need a break for that perspective. And then I couldn’t wait to get home to cuddle and kiss them. No matter where ‘home’ was.
THE BIG Q… You’ve been invited to an adult friend’s dress-up birthday party and there are no restrictions on costume type. What is your chosen dress-up and why?
Either a Ghostbuster because they’re both fun and cool, or the all-white naval officer (think An Officer And A Gentleman) because girls like a man in uniform, right?!