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For a stress free holiday . . .

Holidays are meant to be a time for relaxation. But one mishap and everyone is upset. You go from hero to zero at the blink of an eye. Oh goodness! How do you possibly keep everyone happy?

The December holidays are behind you, but it’s already time to start planning your next holiday and April is around the corner. The biggest thing that the entire family must realize, is that the ideal of a perfect holiday doesn’t exist. Don’t be fooled by advertisements with the perfect family and their pets, as if in a dream world, on the beach playing and laughing without a worry in the world.

You are going to be in each other’s company 24/7, whether you spend it at home, a holiday resort or at your in-laws. It is almost impossible not to step on each other’s toes. The children will have you furious at times, and yes, you may very well let it slip how much nicer your mother’s leg of lamb is as opposed to your wife’s.

You can however prevent the moaning and groaning from ending into a full-blown war that will ruin the holiday for the entire family.

Discuss your expectations

Before making any plans, get the entire family together and discuss your expectations for the holiday. It is especially important to discuss your finances, because it will have a great impact on where you go and what you can do. The little ones can sometimes have unrealistic expectations, which is why you will have to explain, in a nice manner, that you won’t for example be able to eat ice-cream every day. Also prepare yourselves on possible problems that can arise during your interactions with other family members. Place particular emphasis on things such as sharing and thoughtfulness.

Compromise versus boundaries

Not everyone can get their way as and when they demand it. But then again, you can’t let one party always win and the other always lose. If, for example, you spent the previous Easter Weekend with your parents, it’s only fair that you go to your wife’s parents the next time.

You must also set healthy boundaries – and don’t be afraid of doing it. If your aunt really can’t go without her naughty dog, allow her to take the thing with when she comes to visit. But make it clear to her that you are making a sleeping place for him outside and that he may not sleep with her in the spare bedroom.

Resolve conflict in the following manner

Decide what you as a family are going to do to resolve any conflict quickly. It will be extremely disappointing (and unnecessary) if you have to end your holiday early because the one is angry with the other. When something bothers you, immediately talk to each other – don’t leave it to snowball – and look for a fair solution for the problem.

Sometimes a bit of time apart is all you need. If it feels like things are getting just too much for you, take some time out, and go for a walk. The fresh air will clear your head quickly. If it’s the children that are the one’s causing all the fighting and tension, take one by one with you for a few hours and let your wife spend time with the others. They will quickly miss each other.

Make time for you and your spouse

With all the time that you and your wife will spend together, it won’t be long before your “thoughts” start straying in THAT direction. Be creative and choose your opportunities carefully. Have a quickie in the closet if you have to, but don’t skip sex!!

Don’t make the holiday too long

It’s nice to be away from home or to have visitors, but don’t stretch it out too long. Otherwise you sit with a recipe for disaster, stepping on each other’s toes non-stop! Here is a good idea: Spread your time between different people and places. For three evenings sleep over at family, the following evening at friends and then the rest of the time at a holiday resort. In this manner you keep things fresh and exciting and it costs a lot less.

Don’t lose your sense of humour

Instead of losing your temper when your dad tells you how to braai, just laugh and say “yes”. It takes more muscles in your face to frown than to smile, so why overdo it, you’re on holiday remember?!

Cute spots for a family holiday:

The Cape: Noordhoek Farmstall, the Barnyard in Tokai and Mooiberge Farm, Bontebok National Park, De Hoop Nature Reserve.

KwaZulu-Natal: Kosibaai, St Lucia Wetland Park.

Gauteng: Gold Reef City, Johannesburg Zoo, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, Leisure Lakes.

Mpumalanga: National Kruger Wildlife, Sudwala’s Dinosaur Park, Bundu Wildlife-Rehabilitation centre.

North West: De Wildt Cheetah farm, Mountain Sanctuary Park, Sun City.

Free-State: Golden Gate National Park, Willem Pretorius-Wildlife Farm.

Article by Thalia Brüssow

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