Making summer simple

Plane to the summer

I’m really looking forward to summer, I love the holidays – almost as much as I did when I was a child.

The holidays flew by and I don’t really recall ever feeling anything other than blissfully happy for most of the time.

The only thing I remember not enjoying was the day before our family holidays. My parents only got two weeks off and they would rent a huge house by the beach for us (it had to be huge as there were usually eleven of us on the trip; my parents, my grandmother, me and my three siblings, plus four of our friends).

The day before…

The day before we left was devoted to packing, preparations and – if I’m perfectly honest – panic. It was always incredibly stressful, especially for my poor Mum…

I love my Mum hugely, but the day before our holiday never one of the highlights of our mother-daughter relationship. It was the one day of the year where my family’s Spanish roots really came to the fore, there was shouting, arguing, door slamming and sulking – which got worse the further into our teens my siblings and I got. My increasingly exasperated mother wanted the impossible: everyone to help her, but no one to interfere and do things wrong. As the stress levels grew, so did the volume of the arguments, and more often than not the best way thing for everyone was to keep out of Mum’s way.

Having spent years watching my lovely Mum get anxious and upset (and then spend the first day of her holiday recovering from the ordeal of organising everything), I decided that I’d never make the same mistake.

Summer of Joy

Summer holidays are meant to be fun and I want my family and I to enjoy every moment (well, as much as is possible when you’re a real life family, rather one from an advert for a holiday company!).

I worked out early on that my Mum’s big mistake was that she didn’t delegate. As regular readers will know, I a huge fan of sharing out the workload – and, providing you make it clear what’s needed and expected, it works.

I’ve asked my sons to pack their own bags for family holidays for years, and even when they were very young we’ve never got to our destination and discovered they’ve packed all their Lego but none of their pants or socks.

The key behind stress free holidays?

The secret is lists. I love making lists and plans – it’s essential in our family; we have three sons, and our youngest needs 24/7 care and a lot of medical kit, so forgetting something that he needs could be a real disaster.

I keep master copies of all the lists for our holidays on my laptop and print them off each year. Then it’s all about delegation. I pack for my husband, our youngest and myself; my husband takes care of all the bookings and making sure everything’s OK with the car; and our two older boys are expected to their own bags ready. Apart from making sure we have sandwiches and sunscreen, the only other thing I do before we leave is pack the car. It’s a job that I find oddly enjoyable, as I think it’s like doing a giant 3D jigsaw (yes, I know it’s a weird thing to find therapeutic!). Once we’re away we share out the duties and the only thing I do that I’d do at home is the cooking – everything else from washing-up to stocking-up on groceries is shared out. After all, it’s my holiday too!