Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Holiday Breaks?

I'm just back from enjoying a week's break with the family and friends up in the north of Scotland. It's our first holiday away for over a year (due to Grace's birth and a house move) and so we were well overdue some getaway time. Our time away was enhanced by good company, great conversation, beautiful scenery, marvellous food and some gorgeous walks to compensate for the amount of marvellous food we consumed. Despite all of us enduring a tummy and sick bug, we had a well worthwhile break.

My husband and I tend to do alot of thinking and processing of 'stuff' when we're away together, and like him, my experience of going away on holiday can be a challenging time also. Despite benefitting from being away, there are times when I feel that holidays don't do for me what they should. Colin jotted down a few thoughts on why a Pastor struggles to relax on holiday, but here are a few things which, as a wife and mother of 3, I find myself battling against. Do any of these things resonate with you? If so, what do you do to overcome them?

1. The pre-holiday washing, ironing and packing of clothes as well as organinsing the other 101 things you need to take with you can not only be very draining but stresses me out no end and makes me horribly irritable.

2. On the way there is a sense of relief and anticipation, though regret at the state in which you left the house and the things that you forgot to bring.

3. The need to bring structure (because that's how it is) to what should be an easy-going unstructured time away.

4. Continuing with the mundane tasks of feeding, bathing, cleaning up after the children and generally feeling that you aren't really getting a break at all.

5. Frustrated with knowing that your husband is also struggling to relax.

6. Frustrated that the kid's behaviour is worse than usual.

7. Frustrated that someone, if not more than one, fall ill.

8. Wondering what's happening back at home with church, family and friends.

9. Dreading the holiday ending, knowing that your husband will be going back to work.

10. Feeling the need to get back to normal and almost wishing you were back home.

11. Dreading going home to the pigsty that you left.

12. The prospect of a suitcase load of washing and ironing.

13. Coming home just as tired as you left.

I would add, that on this holiday we stayed with friends who more than helped with entertaining the kids, cooking and washing. In addition, my parents popped round to our house while we were away and did some necessary cleaning for us - a great surprise when we arrived home!


Nicole said...

I can relate to this entirely!

Emily said...

I felt like I was reading my own list after our holiday last summer! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This will help me to "prepare" better for our holiday this summer-not merely packing the cases but getting my heart ready to depend on God and serve my family! I'm looking forward to getting to know you better in the months to come when the pastors' fraternal families meet!
Emily Luehrmann
(Michael from Carrubbers wife)

Amanda Robbie said...

Amen! Our Easter holiday break was just the same.

Juanita said...


I've been reading your blog for a while but this is the first time I've commented. I enjoy reading your thoughts.

My husband is also a pastor - this is his 17th year of ministry. Over the years, we've encountered many of the same issues you talk about here. I think there are some ways to work around them so that holidays do become real holidays.

- Choose your holiday wisely. It depends on the ages of your children and what you like to do as a family. We enjoy driving trips sometimes but we have to be careful not to get into the "conquering" mode of holidays and be willing to take time as we need to just to sit. Our favourite holiday is going to a Bible camp for a week of family camp. All the meals and activities are provided - it's a wonderful break. This year, we're doing both a driving trip and family camp.

- Recognize that your husband will be tired. Last year at family camp, my dh spent the first three days just wanting to sleep. By the end of the week, he was feeling relaxed enough to actually enjoy the camp. In talking to other wives, not just ministry wives, I found that their husbands are the same. A week is almost not long enough.

- relating to leaving the house dirty - I know it's hard with small children but I try hard to leave the house clean. It's so much nicer to come home to. It helps if someone else is going to be housesitting or even checking in on it - this provides some motivation for leaving it tidy. I've even had company the night before we left partly so the house had to be clean (okay, I know that's extreme!). Even though it's hard work, we do make an extra effort now to make sure it's tidy (not spotless) before we leave.

- we try to schedule our holidays so that my dh is not coming home to preach the next day. We'll leave on a Monday so when we return one or two weeks later, he still has the week to prepare for the Sunday services. Sometimes this is not possible but it's a goal. We also try to be home a day early so we have a day to unpack the car, etc.

- it really helps to lower your expectations of what a holiday should be. If you are expecting all sweetness and light from your family and children who really appreciate all the work you've gone to make it a good holiday, you will be disappointed. I found that sometimes my pride could get in the way and then I'd be angry that no one was appreciating me!

- we also try to balance time with extended family and friends with time just with our family. As much as I love my extended family, sometimes I need time with just my dh and kids. And I find that my dh needs time when he's not expected to "visit" - he can just hang out with the kids or do whatever.

This is really long but I hope it's helpful! We haven't done a driving trip for a while and our kids are getting older (16, 14, 9, 7) so we were happy this year when we suggested it that everyone is excited about it. It's really good to spend time together!

Nicki said...

Emily, good to hear from you, and likewise, it'll be fun to meet at the fraternal.

Juanita, thanks for your comments, they are helpful! I think it's only been this holiday that I've really began to realise how much I should prepare practically, but more so spiritually (like you also said Emily) before heading off on holiday.

It's a real challenge to try and not become selfish about things and feeling that you are the only one in need of a break most. Your comments about how to help your pastor husband both encourage me, yet challenge me greatly.

Great things to keep in mind for our near future breaks and for the years ahead. Thanks