Have you ever counted down the days, weeks and months to a much-needed holiday?
In fact, I had it worked out to hours for one particular break. That’s how much I was looking forward to it.
And while the rest, relaxation, fun in the sun or time on the snow is awesome, there is so much more we can learn from our getaway, if only we pay attention.
We’ve just returned from a wonderfully relaxing holiday on the beach. And while the beach was gorgeous, the seafood fresh, the sauvignon blanc crisp and the vibe chilled, the greatest value was in the lessons we learnt.
Aside from discovering where the best fish tacos are sold or what time of day the beach is most stunning, we learnt a great deal about living a simpler, slower life.
And the best thing? You don’t need to be on holidays to benefit!
13 Simple Living Lessons Learnt at the Beach
1. Give yourself completely over to play:
Play is something I struggle with. I often find my mind wandering, thinking of what other ‘important’ things I could be doing. But the joy and physicality of making a sandcastle or a shoreline pool is a wonderful reminder that single-tasking, particularly in play, is so wonderful. It’s restorative and takes you back to your own childhood. And I think all of us would benefit from more of that.
2. It’s OK to be purposeless:
Wander aimlessly. Sit on a park bench and do nothing. Take yourself off to a nice, quiet coffee shop or bar and enjoy your own company. People-watch. Leave your phone at home. Give yourself no agenda. Learn to be OK with aimlessness. Life is crammed full, we need to learn to just be sometimes.
3. Take time to read:
So many of us don’t read. Read for joy. Read to learn. Read to escape. Read to relax. Read to broaden your horizons. Give yourself the gift of reading good books.
4. Take time to rest:
Lie down and be still. Sleep if you want to. Take turns with your partner to look after the kids. Restore yourself and feel good about doing it.
5. Take time to stroll:
A life spent at strolling pace is a life that teaches you. You will discover things. About yourself. About your kids. About your life. About your surroundings. Strolling gives you the space and time to wander and to wonder. You notice the gorgeous blossoms, the bird-song, the way your daughter can ride her bike properly now.
6. Eat good food, joyously:
When you’re active and physically engaged with the world around you, your appetite kicks up a notch. Satisfy it and fuel your body with good food. Calories, additives and lo-fat fake foods have no place in a simple life. If your focus is on good food, well prepared, then you aren’t going to pig out on deep-fried fast food anyway.
7. Come together as a family at the end of each day:
When we were on holiday, we had daily happy hours on the verandah. Post-beach, post-showers, pre-dinner. Just us and the kids and a drink each. We spoke about the day, had a laugh, enjoyed each other. Taking a moment to come together at the end of the day is a wonderful anchor to the important things.
8. Be active every day:
When on holidays you are unintentionally active. We played at the beach, walked to the coffee shop, surfed, stretched on the sand, chased the kids, went to the park, kicked the ball, made sandcastles, swam, body-surfed. None of it felt like exercise, because we were engaged. It was all just a part of our day. Try and include incidental exercise in your day – every day. You don’t need a gym membership to lead an active life.
9. We need so much less than we have:
One small bag of clothes each. Some toiletries, linen, pram, surfboard, toys and books. That’s what we needed to fill two weeks. We have so much, but we need so little. Is it time to declutter your life?
10. There is joy in simplicity:
Fresh air, time to rest, good food, great company and solitude. These are the things we need in life. And when reality resumes, and you need to work, pay the bills, go to school and clean the bathroom, try to remember just how little you need to be happy.
11. Find a rhythm that works for your family and stick with it:
On holiday, it only took a few days to find our groove. In daily life, you instinctively know what your family needs, and having a rhythm in place that allows those things makes each day so much simpler.
12. Be flexible:
Anyone who has travelled with kids will tell you that things never go as planned. Much like life, really. So be prepared to be flexible. Allow your plans to be elastic and let them flex and stretch with the day.
13. The happiness of return:
The kids were beyond excited to head home after a week away. It’s a sure sign that life at home is going in the right direction when your thoughts turn happily to home. To be surrounded by your support network and to return to your community is a wonderful thing, so ensure you cultivate them when you can and be grateful for all you have. (It’s probably more than you realise).
Tell me, what was your favourite holiday?