Holidays that Heal

Holidays are time to unwind and relax. If you have been following this blog over the years you will know that holidays and I have a strange relationship.

When I first had children I kept planning holidays that looked like grown up vacations, with plenty of books, time, wine and a good balance of exercise and recreation. The reality of early wake ups, afternoon naps, nappy changes, food and needing to entertain kids (in a strange and sometimes hostile environment) made for a grumpy mummy and a less than good holiday.

As the family got older and grew in number we discovered that beach holidays worked for us. There was always something to do at the beach. The beach. Swimming, long walks, collecting shells, whale spotting, fishing, rook pool gazing, sand castle making……there was everything for everyone. Now we have young adults in the family there is surfing and stand up paddle boarding too. Not to mention the endless photo ops for everyone’s social media feed. Apparently selfies and sunsets are the go. Just saying.

So this last week has been a holiday for all seven of us. And we had what the little people call a real holiday, we took a plane somewhere. We live 3 hours away from a capital city so flying anywhere takes an enormous effort. The road trip to get to the airport is momentous. Then there is the flight and the hustle for the the best seats and being the first to collect the luggage from the carousel. But you know what? It worked for us. All seven of us could carry our own bags and hand luggage. There were no nappies or needs for extra snacks. I was hands free on our journey and for a moment I did relax. A glimpse of what was to come.

We had a great week in Sydney. There was sun and warmth and lots of walking around beach cliff tops, meandering in local cafes, ferry rides and the odd museum and gallery. We spent time with family and dined with old friends. And we had time to read. And reflect.

My man had told the family in jest that this holiday was about ‘healing’. We all laughed at the time. But I think that is what the holiday did for us. We all had to work together to accommodate seven individuals with different desires and needs, we lived in a new space, navigated public transport and learned to slow down.

And as we immersed ourselves in a new place and allowed time to soak into us, creativity is reborn, new dreams, ideas and hopes.

Here is to more holidays that heal. S x

The Promise

FINALLY. The kids are back to school today. Yes, after three weeks the routine has returned and I have to admit I am so glad. Just quietly I think they are too.

It has been a different holiday for this family of seven. My man worked through this school holidays, taking just a long weekend in the middle. The weather here has been awful. Cold, wet, stormy weather, true to winter in the southern part of Australia. Our home has been partly painted so we have experienced the aftermath of a pseudo renovation – think weeks of unpacking and reorganising kid’s chaos. And I have been tired. Maybe it is the winter blues, perhaps it is midlife discontent. Just maybe my fight for joy has been superceded by being overwhelmed by the ordinary, staring at four walls and the groundhog day nature of domestic life with a large family. “Mum, where are you Mum!” I know you understand – the days when every child calls your name twice, all at the same time. When the needs and wants turn into commands, when the boredom is offset only by another movie because it is so wet and cold outside. The kids want sugar and you want wine – at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Looking over my holiday snaps I was struck by this image. Looking over the river in our beachside town. It was an ordinary day – we were attempting a family walk, with grumbles  and stumbles and cajoling along the way. And there was a rainbow. In the midst of the greyness of the day, in amongst the familiar scene of Port Fairy there was a promise. Hope. Beauty. Colour.

I realise there are daily reminders in creation, in the words I read, the people I meet that all provide me with hope, encouragement and a new way of looking at life. I just have to be willing to see them. The little ray of sunshine that causes the bow in the sky. The presence of joy that is there if I will see.

You make known to me <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-14104A" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>the path of life,  in your presence there is <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-14104B" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”>fullness of joy; at your right hand are <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-14104C" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 12px; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”>pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

A new view

A change. A transition. A new view.

The school holidays have started, we are mid way on a smallish reno project, the house is chaos and we have headed to the beach. It must be the coldest, wildest June I have known down here on the coast. The wind is terrifying and creating a cacophany of strange howls. The cold is biting, reminding me of our need for layers of wool and warmth. Bed looks good.
But life moves on. The 7mouths need to be fed and watered, we need things to do and play, books to read, movies to watch, a pudding to make,a dog to walk.
Family holidays offer a new view. We all look a little different, have different needs and wants. There are new opportunities and challenges. It is a new ‘space’ that invites reflection, a new view on how we are doing life. Are we doing well?
Here are some points of reference:
1. Sleep – are we using the holiday time to sleep well and sleep more?
2. Speak – are we taking time to speak to each other with kindness and about new things?
3. Song – are we making music? Humming a tune, listening to the soundtrack of life.
4. Sugar – are we eating well, avoiding too many sweet treats?
5. Solo -are we investing in some serious solo time, to clear our head, rest, review, reflect and reset.
How do you do holidays in winter? Do you have some wisdom about how to find that new view?
PS I love this view of Ella Webb’s art @Wynton

Holiday Haze

Hello friends. It has been a long time. We are not long back from taking a holiday – the first long break in years. And it was so lovely to be away with the family, enjoying the beach, the new routines that holidays inevitably bring. But I am tired. Sun kissed. Windswept and sandy. Do you ever come home not as refreshed as you had hoped? Having read only some of the books in your holiday bag and feeling like the time just disappeared before you could get into the good habits you had planned for the New Year?

Well as we prepare for all of the small people to go back to school I am trying to focus on doing one day at a time. It is going to be an exciting year and I have so much to tell you. How was your summer holiday?

Holiday Transitions

We have been away from ‘home’ for almost 2 weeks. It has been a treat, but simultaneously exhausting. The energy I derive from spending time in the city and seeing friends and family, is countered by being physically tired from zipping here and there. I have become accustomed to country life. Where it takes 5 minutes to commute to work, do the school run, grab a coffee.

But more than that I think holidays are another point of potential chaos. The transition from home to being away, the change in routine, space. New toys, no toys, more room to play and relax, less room to be, all plays a part in adapting to a holiday. I eat differently, there are new beds to contend with, new schedules.

And then there is the list of things to do and pack to get away and the list of things to do and unpack upon returning home. Do I get it right? No.

So a note to self on how to do holiday transitions and stay sane.

1. Clean the house before you go. I hate doing so but we often return to mess. Basically this means having the dishwasher unpacked, floors swept and tidy and the laundry up to date.
2. Have a food supply ready in the freezer for your return – a loaf of bread, a dinner.  There is nothing more stressful then dealing with tired, hungry people and the chaos of unpacking.
3. Pack a first aid kit for the car. Simple basic hygiene, wipes and medicinal products and include cold and flu meds.
4. Organise a media bag for the car that contains DVDs, CDs and headphones for each child – to listen to music or watch in dvds. These don’t have to be expensive but it saves time if you are organised.
5. Buy new luggage for each person. At present we have a mix- match of bags that don’t adequately accommodate our packing needs for all 7 people. This will help packing the car and force little people not to overpack all their belongings.
6. Pack drink bottles for everyone. They will be handy en route and one each with stop the fights and sharing of germs.

Do you have any holiday transition tips to share?

Holiday Mode

Natalie Bloom’s desk via The Design Files

I am desperate for a break….from all kinds of responsibilities and needs and requests.

It is school holidays here and I guess we all have a break from the normal routine.

So I have been thinking about family life, work, gift and talents and how I should be spending my time.  Do you ever have time for such work? Imagining the next big project, my best use of time. I have 2 and a half more years before my youngest is at school full time. So how will I use those short years?

It is strange but all I want to do is organise my desk. Do you have days like this?


I long for holidays. A break from the norm. But there is something strangely disconcerting about leaving your routines and structures behind. About putting work and friendships on hold for several weeks. About battling bad internet connections in coastal shacks. About having time but not the hobby paraphernalia to do things. Holidays tend to be a daze.
Of books and new worlds, films and music. Of kids learning how to be together and enjoy each other’s company. It is a hazy glaze like the hollandaise my man makes for birthday breakfast. 

Planning for family life

It is great fun learning to hang out all day with the family on holidays. It is fun because we don’t usually have so much time together – there is work and school, music and ballet classes, playgroup,youthgroup and rowing training that keeps us all apart.

I have been thinking about what makes a larger family “hang together”. What is the secret to doing life together in way that accounts for everyone’s needs but also challenges us to share more and work hard for each other? I found this Big Family Story quite interesting and honest about the ideas and expectations for family life. We have loads of routines and structures that help us connect regularly. Family dinner at 6pm on weeknights is sacred, reading the Bible together and praying is a priority, as is a regular dose of family movie time on a late Sunday afternoon. Daddy dates/mummy dates with individual kids. But there are many things I need to reflect on this week – chores, washing, cleaning up, organising and tidying, homework. Holidays become the break I need to reassess and reflect on what we are doing well and what needs to change.

According to Katie in her guest blog post, an industrial strength Miele dryer might be life changing. Hhhmmm. If only it was that simple.