I find holidays stressful. Unreasonably stressful. Grump inducing, almost panic strickeningly, stressful. Not the being on holiday… That bit I enjoy. It’s the preparing part which I invariably become unreasonably stressed over. My long suffering partner and children can testify to that!
To be clear, this is a motherhood induced holidaying stress reaction. As a youngster I holidayed breezily. I backpacked round the world, twice, with not so much as a twitch of pre-trip anxiety. But with children, all those potentially anxiety inducing questions – “will I have everything I need? For every single possible scenario? In every possible weather? For everyone that needs it?” – are highly amplified. When you are the ‘responsible adult’ it is easy to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders!
However, as I sit here on the floor, drinking tea, writing, entertaining my children, less than 96 hours before I leave to fly to the opposite side of the globe, with said children, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm. Packing has not yet been done, to do lists that have been written are minimal at best. I’m not sure if this is a deliberate head in sand burying tactic type calm, or a genuine wholesome, over my holidaying-anxiousness affliction sense of calm. Only time will tell. The next 4 days will certainly be revealing!
So what has changed? Where is the undesirable flood of cortisol which we have become so accustomed to in the pre-holidaying period?
It seems to me that there is nothing like an investment of £5k in a single holiday to aid in a bit of necessary personal development! For me, this is a once in a lifetime holiday, a small throw back to my care free travelling days – with 2 children and my mother in tow – and I refuse to be stressed for any part of it!
The fact that we will be visiting family in Australia, and the support network that provides in terms of forgotten necessities, may be a contributing factor in this instance. But for me, I think the biggest change has been a shift and a release of some of the perfectionism and addiction to achievement which I vehemently cling to. Mothering in general is not compatible with perfectionism and addiction to achievement, and on a day-to-day basis I still have work to do to release that fully. But for this holiday, and hopefully future holidays, I feel happy that I may be able now to simply embrace the excitement.
Having spent some time reflecting on my pre-holiday melt downs, I have realised that preparing to go on holiday for me is actually a gradual process of accepting that all of things that I wanted to achieve before I go on holiday are not going to get done. The bathrooms will not be beautifully gleaming on our return. The carpets will not be spotless. Those weeds in what was once my vegetable patch will be a few inches taller. That’s ok, they are practically the only plants in my garden anyway! Life on our return from holiday will look pretty much like it did yesterday… That’s ok. It was fine for yesterday, it will be fine for when we get back!
What will have happened is, clothes – probably clean, and hopefully appropriate for the weather – will be in a suitcase. Toe nails will have been painted; necessary hair removal will have occurred (priorities!). If we are lucky, the fridge and bin will have been emptied. We will jump on a plane, with an adventurous spirit, and eyes wide with excitement, happy for the opportunity to create some amazing memories with my nearest and dearest. No stress required!
Post-blog update: I can undoubtedly say, having holidayed since this adventure, that I am definitely not over my holidaying-anxiousness affliction. However, like most things in life, I know now that my reaction to it, is a choice. And I would like to think that i will choose to create minimal stress pre-holidaying experiences for us in the future. And yes James, please do hold me to this!