From not over-scheduling to letting the little things go, psychologist Dr Happy, Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites’ Resident Happiness Expert, shares his advice
It’s that time of year again. School holidays. The Christmas break. And while it’s a chance for many families to escape the everyday and get away, when it comes to travelling with the kids in tow, many parents find the whole experience more stressful than serene.
So, what’s the solution? According to Dr Tim Sharp – aka Dr Happy – psychologist, founder of The Happiness Institute and Resident Happiness Expert with Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites, while no holiday is guaranteed to be hassle-free, there are tried-and-tested ways to minimise stress and boost the chance of a happy family break during the school holidays.
Top tips for a fuss-free, frazzle-free Christmas break with kids include:
1. Remember what the holiday period is really about – people and connection.
2. Keep things in perspective. Stress levels can run high at this time of year, and it’s easy to make mountains out of molehills or become upset by little things. Try to focus more on what’s going well during your trip – and less on what’s not going according to plan – try to let it go.
3. Don’t over plan. Genuinely enjoying a few activities is better than stressing over trying to squeeze too many into your schedule. Yes, it’s good to have some things locked in to make the most of your time (like attractions needing tickets) – but leaving free time to allow you to be flexible, spontaneous, and ‘in the moment’ is the best recipe for a happy holiday.
4. Strive for a balance between time to have fun all together – beach trips, family walks, board games, local attractions - and carving out some time for individuals to have their own time and space to do what they want to do.
5. Nurture your health and wellbeing – whatever that involves – so you can enjoy yourself and take care of others. Ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep (especially the kids), as it’s hard to be happy if you’re tired (and grumpy!).
6. While connections are important, if there are family members you don’t get on well with but have to spend time with over the holidays, remember it’s ok to limit the amount of time you spend with those individuals to look after your own wellbeing.
|Dr Tim Sharp – aka Dr Happy|
And in good news, the cost of the holiday isn’t connected to its ‘happiness impact’. Why? “Because it’s all about the experience, and while we sometimes forget, positive experiences don’t need to be luxurious, and the happiness we enjoy on and after a holiday will likely be linked to the fun we’ve had and the funny experiences – even when things go wrong – and the shared experience of navigating through those moments with our loved ones”.
“Holidays are associated with happiness because they help us break out of our routine and provide opportunities for fun and excitement – taking us away from the stressors of daily life – not to mention creating opportunities to genuinely connect, or re-connect, with loved ones,” he added.
Head of Commercial for Oaks Hotels, John Thompson, suggested booking apartment-style accommodation with room for everyone in the group to come together – and then spend time apart (such as separate living areas and bedrooms) – or interconnecting rooms are also good tips for a harmonious family holiday.
“Having somewhere for the parents to unwind after the kids have gone to bed, not having to jam together in one room, and having access to a fully-equipped kitchen rather than hustle hungry children out the door early every morning to find breakfast, or after a long day’s sightseeing, are key reasons our properties are favoured by well-travelled families,” explained Thompson.
While the school holidays are typically a time for breaks as a family, Dr Happy says there are also benefits in parents taking a break from their children from time to time if they have a trusted carer who can look after them.
“To take care of others, we need to first take care of ourselves, and to be good parents, we need to be happy, healthy individuals. They say ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ so if a holiday without the kids helps parents ‘fill their cups’ and return feeling healthier, happier and more positive – that has to be a good thing.”
Think you’re pretty happy? Want to win a holiday a season?
Oaks Hotels, Resorts and Suites is looking for The Happiest Person, with Dr Happy judging entries and announcing the winner on 20 March 2023 – the International Day of Happiness.
Entrants are invited to visit Oaks Hotels for more details about the search for The Happiest Person, and to nominate themselves, a friend, or family member for the title. The prize consists of ‘A Holiday a Season’ – 4 x 3-night stays in a one or two-bedroom apartment at any Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites location in Australia or New Zealand.