As I laid my head back into the cool sea water and felt it spread from a tiny circle at the back of my head into a crown that tickled my ears, I asked myself, how?
My 3-year old daughter’s face lit up against the bright blue sky, and crinkled into one big smile, so happy she was in her new “Frozen”-themed blow-up ring and classic orange arm bands wrapped around her little arms.
How can I – or anyone – get this feeling of utter serenity at home?
Why can’t I feel like I do on holidays, when I am at home? At work? On the bus to work? On they way to picking up my daughter from the crèche? Anywhere?
Why is it, as soon as we are home, hardly out the car door after that long journey, that my stress rises, the domestic jobs quickly pile up (from nothing – the house was fine when we left!) and our children can quickly appear more challenging, more whiny, more tricky to keep cheerful and peaceful?
We still need to eat, cook (at least if self-catering), prepare and shuttle around with us those activity packs/“kids’ stuff” on holidays, (nappy bag or medical emergency bag in our case for our daughter’s allergies; toys/games; (healthy?) snacks to help occupy our tiddlywinks during those nice holiday beach-side lunches).
We still need to remind our toddlers to say “thank you” and “please” at each opportunity (depending on our level of interest in or discipline regarding etiquette or perhaps yours are onto this already themselves); to wipe their sticky fingers and lips after their favourite ice cream (or encourage them to do this themselves if not already and “its about time they became autonomous”).
Of course, maybe it’s just me, but talking with friends, I get the impression most of us have a long list of things we want to do as parents on a daily basis (pretty much constantly) to help guide them in what we think is the right direction. I guess each of us may have our own priority ideas and aims in this respect.
And while these guiding ideals can be very rewarding and a part of our constant love and the time we want to give to our children in nurturing them and helping them to grow, why is it that all these things are much less of a chore; much easier to empower our little ones with, when we are on holiday (or so my experience has led me to believe)?
Of course one obvious observation is that (in the case of working parents) we don’t have to work on holiday (or at least presumably less than normal) or do as much domestic work and admin, chores and run errands.
We don’t see the dust accumulating at home; that pile of clothes ready to sort through to exchange with its next season’s equivalents; that stack of bills to pay on the kitchen table or waiting in our letter box… and those miniature hand prints all over our windows/doors/walls that we only just wiped off yesterday. The latter probably depends on our level of our desired cleanliness; maybe for some they don’t matter – instead, those little prints are a sign of exploratory life at home, or perhaps they are not even noticed in the first place – personally, I wish I had a more laid-back, let-it-go attitude and as a first holiday-inspired promise to myself right now: I will try to keep that more in mind in future!
The funny thing is that all those things are still there whilst we are on holiday. Potentially, some are still visible at the holiday venue; certainly some if not all are existing there to where we will return and we can be aware of that, if we choose.
But – for me at least – we just cannot see them, or perhaps we just don’t notice them so much.
So what’s the difference?
I think the difference is our mind: Whether or not we do or don’t see these little (or big) things (jobs to do, etc.) on holiday, my personal experience is that they just don’t seem to impact me in the same way (and you?).
We are cocooned by a conditioned comfort-zone that tells us that on holiday, we must and can relax; no chores; no arguments with our loved-ones; no irritable behaviour towards our toddlers (due simply sometimes to our impatience of, for example, not wanting them to pour their own morning apple juice for fear (and normally factual knowledge!) that they will spill it everywhere. (Again, maybe that last one is just me and here a second promise to myself: More patience, patience, patience: I must remember, each second can be a precious moment; one day we will miss those apple-juice spills.)
And so what’s the answer? How de we find that serenity that we more easily access on holidays, when we are at home or anywhere and at anytime?
If the “missing link” between serenity on holiday and serenity at home and in our everyday lives is our mind and how we react to what we see and know, then isn’t that an amazing truth? Because our mind is something we can be aware of, can notice and can – perhaps with a little extra required conscious effort at times – not so much “manage” but acknowledge.
And then we are simply left with our thoughts; some may come, some may go and some we have the power to create on the spot.
My third holiday-inspired promise then is this: To know that even when times are tough, I am running late, am fed up of trying different tactics to tame our home life on evenings when things go a little “wrong”… In any instant, I can close my eyes and know that serenity is still there somewhere within.
Perhaps for me, serenity for the time being will be a thought back to that moment in the sea. What about you? Where do you find yours?
I’d love to invite all mamas and mamas2B to join on a light-hearted “seeking solace in serenity” mission: Simply a weekly morning coffee and catch-up in Luxembourg. Click here to join the MeetUp and see when the next event is. A chance to meet with other mamas and mamas2B and swap ideas, experiences, notes on how we keep serene when times get tough. Or just to sip a coffee together and for a moment think back to our last slice of serenity…
More about the Author
Jessica, mother to daughter and daughter-to-be “baby bump”, lives and works in Luxembourg where she and her husband started their family a few years ago.
Passionate about life’s journey – its ups and downs, surprises and challenges – Jessica is inspired by ways to seek serenity along the way and likes to share and exchange ideas with other parents – including as coachee and follower of the “Three Principles” of Mind, Consciousness and Thought.