Why I insist on regular family holidays
I love to travel. I love to see new countries and be exposed to new experiences, cultures, people and ways of being. And we've been really lucky as a family to travel to a few different countries together - Egypt, Greece, Spain, Costa Rica - each one offering something different but with us always seeking the same thing - connection.
Our favourite holiday is our regular family summer holiday in Greece. We go to the same place every year, not only the same Greek island, but the same town, the same villa, the same rooms! We go the same beaches, visit the same restaurants and bars, do the same day trips, see the same taverna and shop owners. We've made it our Greek home from home. And we consider ourselves lucky to have this as a shared family experience.
Some people might find it strange that we go to the same place year ofter year, or it might be perceived as a bit entitled to always expect a holiday each Summer. But I look at it as an essential contributor to our family success.
Why? Because my husband is an entrepreneur travelling regularly with his work. He is away from us and from home almost weekly, travelling and working across the globe. I've lost count of the amount of flights he has taken, the amount of airmiles he has amassed, the time zones, the jet lag. But most importantly the missed family time, the missed first steps, first words, the missed school plays, school assemblies and sports achievements...
You see, we're not looking for more experiences, more sightseeing, more activity, more Doing. We go away to stop. To be together. To revel in each other. To just Be.
Our first family holiday was summer 2003 when our daughter was 4 months old. I had been solo parenting on and off since she was 2 weeks old. And as my husband's business is typically slower in the summer, I saw a holiday opportunity and I jumped on it. I arranged everything, just requiring my husband to stop for those few days and not be entirely attached to his phone or laptop while we were away (which I understand is difficult for a business owner).
Of course we were not sure at all how it would go - I mean how do we 'holiday' with a small baby, and by definition is that even a holiday? But I desperately needed the couple time and family time that a holiday would give us.
So, we booked a room on a Greek island. This felt like a do-able option as we had been to Greece before and had an idea of what to expect. We knew our baby would be portable and we knew that the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle would suit us all for a couple of weeks down-time.
Well what happened whilst we were away exceeded my expectations by far! Over each day of the holiday I saw my husband relaxing and keeping away from his work related tech as much as he could. I saw my baby girl and her daddy really getting to know each other properly. Their bond deepened. His parenting confidence grew. I went from solo parent to co-parent. I slept and caught up with myself. They napped together in the shade, swam in the pool and played in the room. She changed from Mummy's girl to Daddy's girl. And it was blissful.
We had late evenings out together in the village square, eating Greek salad, drinking Greek rose with the locals whilst our baby slept in her pram. We had early mornings down on the beach in the cool, calm sea followed by pastries, fresh juice and coffee from the local bakery.
We had time to reconnect as a couple, time to reconnect with ourselves, and time to grow as a family. My husband and I took time to reflect on how far we had come as new parents, and what the journey was starting to look like for us going forward. We were able to redefine what our relationship looked like now that we were established parents, and it looked good. We dared to dream and make plans for the future.
We have had many holidays since then. Each holiday is different as our family grows up, as we move into different life stages, as our needs change. We always take time as a couple to reflect and dream and plan. And yet each holiday is the same - with a similar aim and similar results; To stop. To reconnect with self and each other. And to grow as a family.
The reason I insist on regular family holidays? Because we love it, because the children love it, and because we are all chasing the same thing time after time after time - Connection.