Guest Post from Katie Bailey
Kate is a mum of two tearaway toddlers who lives in Cheshire with her long suffering hubby. Kate is a holistic therapist and also a keen writer so I was delighted when she offered to write for my blog on the need for children to have family holidays:
Do you need a holiday?
New Years resolutions. It's what a lot of us will be thinking about right now, but how many of you are resolving to have more holidays this year? Well, if there's a queue then I'm most definitely joining it. In fact, I'll be right there at the very front!
Do you realise that holidays are actually essential for our long term health and wellbeing? Yes, they're not just the luxury that lots of us consider them to be. Our bodies need regular breaks to allow us to recuperate. If we're overworked we're more susceptible to illness because our immune systems become suppressed.
There's also the issue of stress, which the majority of us suffer from probably far more often than we'd care to admit! Prolonged stress can have a disastrous effect on our bodies. We're not designed to be in our 'fight or flight' mode long term and as far as I'm concerned this is the number one reason that regular breaks are absolutely essential.
I know all too well that trap that we fall into when it comes to taking time off. I'm a prolific offender! 'There's too much to do', 'We really should be catching up on jobs', 'The business won't run itself', 'There's no way we can afford to take time off'. But I'm also aware that if we carry on that way burnout will slap us hard in the face, much like our toddlers do when we try to put them in our bed to grab an extra half hours sleep in the morning!
So how can we not take that break? We need time off to spend recuperating and relaxing because without it we won't be anywhere near as productive.
What about our children?
Children deserve holidays and they actually need them just as much as we do. Its absolutely essential for them to have a chance to break free from routine, time to race around outside, explore new places and just spend time playing. Children learn just as much outside of the classroom as they do inside it. They need freedom and unplanned activities just as much as they need routine and structure.
Most importantly, they need to learn that life isn't all about work. I don't want my children growing up thinking that it is. However, I am well aware that if we carry on the way we're going then that is exactly what we'll be teaching them!
So, I'm going to take a leaf out of my parent's book.
Learning from my childhood holidays
When I was a child we took the majority of our holidays in North Wales. Occasionally we spent a holiday down south but the majority were in exactly the same place. My parents owned a touring caravan which we always spent our entire summer in, plus most of our other school holidays. While I loved the time we spent there I have to admit that growing up I was insanely jealous of my friends who got to travel abroad on their holidays. I brooded while it thundered and lightened outside, even snowed (yes, in June!) and I imagined that they were all having a great time sunning themselves on the beach, splashing around in a swimming pool and eating out with their families every night while we were stuck in the caravan playing snap!
Don't get me wrong, Wales did have some sunshine too and we enjoyed many days riding the waves in our dinghy, but it is very easy to believe that the grass is greener, especially when you're young. The family holidays we had abroad when we older were great too but it's only now that I've begun to appreciate how truly blessed I was and what was really important.
I now realise that my parents were very wise in knowing that it was much better for us to spend ten whole weeks a year together rather than one week abroad like my friends. The point is, it really didn't matter where we went. We got to go on holiday and spend lot of good quality family time together. Cliched, I know. But very very true!
We had loads of holidays. No one worked, no one had their phone permanently attached to their hand (not that they really existed back then but that's not the point!) no one was doing housework or running errands for family and friends. We simply spent time together either on the beach, walking, eating, sitting, playing. In addition, we got to make lots of friends, the place was familiar which gave us more freedom than we would have had otherwise and there was plenty to keep us occupied.
Holidays, the bit that money just can't buy....
Holidaying is something my hubby and I have thought about and talked a lot about lately. We'd love to take our toddlers to all the corners of the world. There's loads for the little ones to learn from travelling but rather than worry about where we go, we know what's really important is that we have holidays together. A proper break where we take time away from work, the business, the housework and that never-ending list of DIY! We know that our children are growing up so fast that if we don't stop and take some time out together we'll miss it.
We've had very few holidays since our children were born but the ones we have had they've enjoyed enormously. We haven't even had to do anything special because they never tire of spending time outdoors. They don't care whether it's beaming sunshine or it chucking down rain. And the real beauty of it is, that they're intrigued by the simplest of things, leaves, trees, insects and even just water! I'm well aware that will change when they're 12 and 13 instead of 2 and 3 but for now we'll just make the most of it. The time outside does us all good, the exercise, the fresh air and the daylight all helps us feel much better and the amount they learn is astonishing! It really is true that education happens anywhere.
We know it's far too easy to be dragged away from family time at home, when we're 'off' work we're never really away from it. The phones are always on and it's easy just to take a second to check emails, which always ends up taking far longer than a second! So we're making holidays a priority this year, we're going to make lots of time for them, and for us too.
We want our children to have similar memories of their family holidays that we do, including spending lots of time with extended family, and friends who tagged along on occasion too. For them to have memories of family holidays to reminisce over months and even years after. And we'll be ecstatic if they grow up wanting to recreate their experiences for their own children.
More about Kate
I am so grateful to Kate for sharing her holiday memories and aspirations here. She gives a poignant message about family time that I support wholeheartedly. Hopefully I will meet Kate and her family holidaying with us at Coombe Mill this year!