Dreaded family holidays
Whether you live at home or you've flown the nest, a family holiday is designed to bring everyone together. In reality, it often brings problems to the surface.
Why holidays can be hell
It's easy to think that you can leave your problems behind when the summer holidays arrive. With the prospect of some time in the sun, sea and sand, what can possibly go wrong? The fact is if there's tension beforehand then time out together will only intensify any problems. It's also bound to leave you feeling frustrated at having a shadow cast over your holiday, which in turn makes arguments all the more likely.
At home, no matter what kind of hassle you encounter, you can still fall back on your social life. You have friends to visit, people to see and familiar places to hang about in until it's safe to return. On holiday, these kinds of escape routes are closed. You're cooped up together in a strange place, and with more time on your hands than normal. Uh-oh.
Your family in the flesh
Consider how much you see of each family member when you're at home. Chances are you see them briefly at breakfast, and in the evening when everyone's knackered and slumped in front of the telly. On holiday, you get to see what they're really like throughout the day - and you may not like the result.
Every family has one - an individual who insists on planning each day of your holiday with military precision. They might have good intentions, but you know it's a fast-track way to wind you up. Life is too short for museums, after all.
No matter how bad things seem, the aim is to return home refreshed, so you might as well make the effort - for the sake of all involved.
Holiday rescue package
If you want to get the most out of a family holiday, make every effort to help organise it. That way, you'll know what's in store, rather than express surprise when your dad hands you a day pass for the light railway exhibition he's been secretly busting to visit all year.
Know your enemy
Just for a moment, think what it is about your family that really winds you up, and ask if it could become a holiday flashpoint. Whether it's the ancestral need to hike all the way to the empty end of the beach, or your dad's views on American foreign policy, it's better to raise the issue before you set off, and then work out a way to stop it from casting a shadow over your holiday.
Be honest, do you make the ideal holiday companion? Are you easy-going, open to suggestion, kind, generous, amusing and up for adventure? No, probably not. So, if you know you're always grumpy in the morning, be up front about it before you leave so everyone can give you a wide berth. At least until Captain Happy regains the controls around lunchtime.
Give yourself a break
Make time to get away from the family every day, even if it's just for a quick stroll. It's your chance to get things in perspective, and remind you that all holidays must come to an end. No matter how bad things seem, the aim is to return home refreshed, so you might as well make the effort - for the sake of all involved.
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