13 Simple Living Lessons (Learnt on Holidays)

Hello! The prodigal blogger returns.

I was sneaky, folks. I took a break, just as I said, but we also secreted ourselves away for a much-needed holiday. The four of us and Byron Bay. Oh, delightful beach haven.

Have you ever realised what holidays teach us? (Aside, of course, from where the best fish tacos are sold or what time of day the beach is most stunning.) They teach us a great deal about living a simpler, slower, more mindful life:

1. Give yourself completely over to play: Play is something I struggle with. 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 let our thoughts out 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. Just give yourself the gift.

4. Take time to rest: Lie still. Sleep if you want to. Take turns with the kids if need be. Restore yourself.

5. Take time to stroll: You will discover things. About yourself. About your kids. About your life. About your surroundings.

6. Eat good food, joyously: When you’re active and outdoors and engaged with the world around you, your appetite kicks up a notch. Satisfy it and fuel your body with good food. And leave the calorie-counting at home. 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: 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. And it was a wonderful anchor to the important things.

8. Be active every day: We played at the beach, we walked to the coffee shop, we surfed, we stretched on the sand, we walked to the shops, we chased the kids, we went to the park, we kicked the ball, we made sandcastles, we swam, we body-surfed. None of it felt like exercise, because we were engaged. It was all just a part of our day.

9. We need so much less than we have: One small bag each. High chair, 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 time to yourself. These are the things we need in life.

11. The benefit of a routine that suits your family: It only took a few days to find our groove. You instinctively know what your family needs, and having a routine in place that allows those things makes each day so much simpler.

12. The need to 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: Isla was beyond excited to head home after two weeks away. It is 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. And brings home just how fortunate we are.

It is truly wonderful to be back. Thank you for allowing me to take the time I so desperately needed. Over the coming weeks I’ll be back to regular posts on slowing your home, so you can love your life.

In the meantime, let me know, what have you learnt about life on holidays?

7 Responses to 13 Simple Living Lessons (Learnt on Holidays)

  1. Hi there, I am a Mum of five children, aged between 2 and 16, and just a few weeks back went to India with a family member (no children though!) for 3 weeks. It was my first overseas experience and also my first time away from my family for so long, and it was such an amazing opportunity. I love the list you have compiled, and I agree with every point, (especially the eating point!), you have summed up my same thoughts perfectly. I do have a different outlook on life now, and am determined to bring more ‘simplicity’ that I experienced overseas back in our home. I have just joined your email list, and love your blog, so thank you, lovely timing!

  2. When we did a pre-marriage prep course, someone suggested to us about using holidays as a chance to “take stock” of how we ‘do’ life. Just as you might have a semi-regular check up with the doctor, we can use holidays as a regular ‘check-up’ on life and (re)assess our priorities.
    It’s easier to do this when you’re away on holiday because you are removed from your usual context and the busy-ness and stresses of everyday life. Holidays provide space to think and assess.
    Suggested topics include but are by no means limited to:
    – Work-life balance (inc talking about how fulfilled we are in our jobs, and any changes we should make to our working patterns/situations)
    – How we spend our money
    – How we spend our time
    – Our home and where we live (this can cover home improvements that we want to tackle, as well as location / thinking about moving if we’re not in the best location for our family
    – Our children (we don’t have kids yet, so for us this will be a “what are our plans re kids” topic, but for those who do have kids, it’s good to spend time thinking about each child individually, and also about how you all function together & relate as a unit)
    – Our wider family (ie, brothers/sisters/parents on both sides) -Do we see them often enough / too often? How is our relationship with them? What do they need? How can we best support them at this time?
    – Top moment(s) since last holiday -and why
    – Lowest moment(s) since last holiday -and why
    – What we need to work on most in our relationship at the moment (eg, communicating more, making more time to spend with each other, arguing less…etc)
    – Goals / what we would like to achieve in the next year (a) myself, (b) my husband, (c) for any kids we may have (or be planning), and (d) all together.

    You can take one topic each day, a few at a time, or do the whole lot in one big chunk, whichever works best for you.

    Deciding to do this *every* time you go away on holiday forces you to think about these things semi-regularly. Chances are, if you just put a reminder in your calendar to think/talk about it every 6-ish months, you’d end up postponing or ignoring the reminder! Doing it while you’re on holiday feels less pressured too!

    We find this enables us to return after a holiday refreshed from having had a fun and much needed break, but also having taken stock of where we are, what changes we need to make, and where we are going.

  3. …Also, its useful to take notes (or at least bullet-points) of what you talked about, which will make it easier to remember and be able to implement things once you’re back home.
    It’s a nice idea to take the notes from last time with you on your next holiday, so you can see where you were and how far you’ve come. Use a specifically dedicated notebook if possible.

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