Family Holiday A to Z: Homeward Bound
Welcome to my A to Z series on surviving, enjoying and making the most of family holidays. As you read this I am on my own 24 day odyssey to the USA with my husband and three little bears – so I am truly living what I am preaching right now! Each post in this series is designed to cover a specific aspect of family travel and provide 5 tips for making your next family holiday more special, fun and memorable. I would love to hear your stories and suggestions too, so feel free to hit me with them in the comments. I look forward to conversing with you on my return!
When planning a holiday with your family you understandably spend most of your energy focusing on the holiday itself. Planning, budgeting, packing and arranging everything can consume all your energy in the months, days and hours leading to your departure.
The holiday passes by in a whirl and then it’s time to pack up and head home again. After all the excitement, you then have to deal with the reality of jet lag, a messy house, a huge pile of holiday washing, unpacking, readjusting to home life again and the inevitable onset of the post-holiday blues. And that’s just you – you also have to support your kids through the adjustment period too!
You can’t eliminate all of these but it is possible to minimise some of these post-holiday irritations by taking some simple steps before you leave. Strategies like ensuring your washing is up to date before you leave, making sure your house is tidy on departure and planning for a few days at home before recommencing real life on your return can make a huge difference in helping you all readjust to home life sooner.
5 tips for helping the transition back to home life after a family holiday
1. Plan for some time at home before heading back to work & school
Sometimes this is not possible but if you can, plan for a few days at home after your return from holidays. We have three days together when we get back from the USA and will only have to survive one day of work and school when we do recommence normal life before we stumble into the weekend. We have deliberately planned this so we can get over the more immediate effects of jet lag and ease ourselves into normal life again. This will help everyone transition back from holiday mode with the least amount of stress and upset.
2. Get everyone to tidy the house before you leave
This is so important. It’s the worst feeling coming back from an awesome holiday to find your house resembles a bomb site following your last minute packing whirlwind. At the very least, get the kids to tidy their rooms and make their beds so there is order on their return. When you are tired and irritable from travelling and from the onset of the post-holiday blues, the last thing you want to do is to tackle a messy house. It might seem like an impossible ask in those last crazy days of holiday preparation before you leave but setting time aside to clean and tidy the house is worth the effort when its time to come home.
3. Conquer the washing pile before departure
You won’t be able to get through all of it but make sure you get through the bulk of your washing before you leave. You will be thankful for it when you return with a couple of suitcases worth of holiday washing (better to limit that too as much as you can while you are away!). You’ll also be grateful for not being assailed by the sweet aroma of smelly washing the minute you walk through the door. I also find it best to chuck washing on as soon as you can. Don’t put it off when you get back – get stuck into it so you can get back into some sort of household routine as soon as you can.
4. Cook up a storm and freeze it for later
This tip is most often given to mother-to-be to help them in the crazy, sleep deprived newborn period but it’s just as apt for those returning from holidays. If you are jet lagged and tired the last thing you want to do is head out to the shops to get supplies on your way home from the airport. Have a cooking day a few weeks out from departure and prepare a good few days of meals for the freezer, ready to be reheated when you get home. You can also freeze a few loaves of bread and include some easy oven meals in there as well. It’s also a good idea to ensure you have all the staples in your pantry – long life milk, pasta, rice, etc to allow you to put off that shopping trip until you are ready to face it!
5. Plan to pay expenses & bills while you are away
One of the worst things to come back to is a pile of bills, particularly those that were due while you were away and are now very overdue. The stress of unpacking and sorting and getting back to real life is enough to deal with, let alone having to manage financial matters immediately on your return. Have a look at your bill history and anticipate what expenses will be due while you are away. Make sure you set up automatic direct debits to manage these payments while you are away or make early payments on your accounts before you leave. This is why it’s so important to set up a budget and understand all your expenses when considering a holiday – you don’t want to be caught short when you are travelling.
Bonus tip – 6. When heading back to work block out your calendar for the morning of your return
If you are in the sort of job where you can do this, block out the calendar for the morning of your return so you can ease back into the workplace and not have to attend meetings first thing back. Use this time to catch up on emails and then spend the afternoon catching up with your colleagues. You should also consider using an auto-responder while you are away, noting the period of your absence which should help stop the flow of emails once people know you are away. Another good tip is to arrange to forward your emails to colleagues so there is nothing much to return to – then enjoy a more leisurely first day back without the pressure of having to be “on” from the word go!
Do you have any suggestions for ways to ease the transition back into home life after a family holiday?