Stress-free holiday planning for stressed out parents- guest post

There are several ways you can minimize the stressful side of holiday planning, and they cover a range of budgets, from handing all the work over to people who run dedicated family hotels, like Luxury Family Hotels to arranging a free home-swap so that you can afford a holiday in the first place.

Either way, when you’ve just spent Easter wrangling excitable toddlers and a couple of hard-to-please teenagers, the idea of planning your next holiday probably – if you’re anything like me, at least – causes a funny anxious knot in your chest… perhaps the urge to run off and watch some nice soothing telly instead.

But it really is a good idea to arrange regular leisure events for the whole family – including you – to look forward to. Holidays (should) give you all a chance to relax and prepare yourselves for the next stint of work or school; done right, they can actually improve your health and productivity in the long run.

The first step is to pinpoint what it was about previous family holidays, and planning them, that stressed you out in the past. Perhaps you couldn’t really afford what you chose, and went over-budget, or you’re so busy you’ve never managed to research a truly satisfying destination. Maybe you habitually drive everywhere, but, when you think about it, you realise you hate sitting in traffic for hours, with “Mummy cuddddddle” and “I’ve just been sick” echoing around the back seat.

Once you’ve identified these stress-points, interview the rest of your family to find out theirs. Maybe you, your partner and toddler loved the seaside resort you visited last time, but your teenage daughter was all at sea without her Xbox, and her friends. Your family should appreciate that you’re taking their needs on board, and they may have some good ideas – perhaps inspired by friends and colleagues – about what to do differently this time. Anything from taking the train, to teaming up with family friends (to make sure that everyone has some company of their own age) can make all the difference between a week of trying to look happy and a spell of genuine pleasure and relaxation.

Make sure, however, that you’re very clear from the start (with yourself and everyone else) about what you can afford. There’s nothing worse, whatever your age, than getting all excited about your hypothetical holiday, and then discovering that it won’t fit inside your budget. The trick is to work out exactly what you have to spare on a break, and then find out what’s the best value, most appropriate holiday you can afford with that pot of money. If you fantasise about your ideal trip before doing the finance side, you’re far more likely to end up feeling disappointed at best, or – much worse – getting yourself into debt, which really isn’t the relaxing outcome we’re going for here.