What to do when the holidays stop being fun

On holidays and long weekends, especially the long summer holidays that we have this time of year in ex-English colonies like South Africa, we let ourselves relax into the well-deserved rest that we have dreamed about for the rest of the year. Afternoon sleeps. Long walks. Reading endlessly. We let all the structure, 'must do' and bustle of the year go and we breathe out.

But at some point the space and calm tends to turn on us. The dreaded 'I'm bored' moment that parents will be very familiar with. Even non-parents will know that moment in holidays where you wake up after your umpteenth nap or finished another large breakfast and wonder ‘what now?’

The bitter irony is that a few weeks later, once we are back in the hustle and bustle, we will desperately miss these times. We will find it hard to believe that we were a little sick of holidays at some point. One of my meditation teachers used to say that we should not take more than two or three days of holiday at a time. And we used to think he was crazy. Or at least a helpless and hopeless workaholic. But when we hit the rock bottom of holidays I start wondering if maybe he had a point? What on earth is going on here?

I have learnt that us humans crave effort and rest. Too much of either of these and we get stuck. One of the early Christian documents describe God as a ‘movement and a rest’. The same is true of us. We are a movement and a rest. So what does this mean practically?

It means that after the initial big breath out, we need to put some structure and effort into holidays in order to keep having fun. Of course it doesn't mean that you should go back to work or only take two to three days holiday :-) It does mean however that we need to combine some movement with rest. Now is the time to work on some of those projects that you never seem to have time for. Here are some of the things that are on my list for these holidays:
  • Scrap booking
  • Sculpture
  • Involving my kids in some home maintenance projects
  • Working on a book about Next Small Step. Yes, dear reader, expect the best of Next Small Step in a book sometime in the first half of 2013!
  • Involving my kids in keeping the house clean
  • A daily session of drawing
  • Cooking with my family
  • Some very long hikes in the mountains.
  • After dinner family walks
  • Card and board games with the family
  • A daily reading session with the kids
  • Learning how to iron clothes. And actually ironing the family’s clothes during the holidays
  • Teaching our dogs to ‘Stay’. At the moment they can only ‘Sit'
  • Learning how to juggle
The magic of all this is that once you make an effort to do something, you can enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing all over again. But in order to re-enjoy this sweetness, you need to overcome the deadly inertia of holidays, make an effort, and do something!

Also read:
That quote is from the Gospel of Thomas. It is pretty dray reading, but check it out on Wikipedia, if you want to know more.

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