As it is the holiday season, this made interesting reading. Gone are the days of two weeks shut-down from the mill. These days, parents are being warned to avoid sabotaging their much needed quality family time, by allowing work to ‘gate-crash’ their precious family holidays. For, a recent poll by family-friendly holiday experts Tots To Travel, has found that almost 60% of parents work whilst on their family holiday. Not a recipe for family harmony. Of these, 81% either tolerated or were annoyed at their partner working on holiday, leaving a meagre 19% in support of their partner working.
Interestingly, 87% polled wanted their partner to stop working on holiday, an indication of the stress that work is bringing into this precious time. Ironically, 82% of families rated quality time together a top priority, yet parents are ambushing family time together by anything from a sneaky email check (64% check at least once a day), to working three hours or more a week (65%). Suspect loads are also on social media.
Not surprisingly only 11% of parents felt totally relaxed after their family holiday and 89% felt moderately relaxed to not relaxed at all. This doesn’t surprise me as holidays, much anticipated, are often a let down. For those in Bude recently, the weather has not been kind (mind you, that’s pretty much all of the UK). For those travelling by Eurotunnel, Calais has been disastrous, and even flying has its moments. My daughter has just returned from two weeks in Mexico feeling seriously jet-lagged. You’re in a strange place, without all home comforts, away from people you know, other than family, with whom you may well spend your time 24/7. We’re just not used to stresses like that. Holidays are expensive, and you have to keep thinking of things to do. I’m all for them, but think they need to be approached as a new kind of challenge, a change of scene, rather than a grand panacea for often dysfunctional family life.
Parents, it seems, need to understand that if quality family time is an objective, then they need to make a conscious plan to achieve this in the knowledge that even a quick email check, can be a stressful distraction from the job of properly relaxing with the children. God love ’em, I had five, but when have children ever been relaxing? From fears of losing them, drowning, cuts and bruises, feeding them, carting a myriad of stuff to the beach, and finding ice creams cost a tenner for you all, children are many things, but they are not relaxing.
Mum of three and founder of Tots To Travel, Wendy Shand, said: “With technology at our fingertips, work and holiday have become intertwined. If your family holiday is to be relaxing then there needs be a much clearer divide.”
Wendy continued: “On past family holidays we’ve taken a whopping 12 devices, which were all connected to the Wi-Fi. This makes work just a click away throughout the holiday. As a working parent I’m now mindful of this so as to protect this precious time. I urge other parents to make a conscious decision to limit work whilst away, and to make a plan to keep it to an absolute minimum so as not to ruin their valuable family holiday.”
As a holiday accommodation provider, I must say that people now demand wifi (you can imagine how our super slow broadband goes down!) I’m not sure if this report is particularly sensible. Yes, we need time out, but teenagers without wifi and devices, for a week or two? Come on! People (me included) are so connected to their mobiles/devices that they carry them everywhere. There’s no going back to some pre-technological idyll.
In a bid to help, Tots To Travel has devised the following five tips for parents on how to achieve a work-free family holiday:
Tots’ Top 5 Tips For A Relaxing Family Holiday:
1. Consciously decide to give yourself a ‘work-free’ break, after all you will return fresher and more creative from a proper break.
2. Communicate your intentions to your colleagues and to your family and make arrangements for others to cover for you; you can do the same for them in return.
3. Set an auto-responder that clearly conveys that you will not be answering emails whilst on holiday and provide an alternative contact.
4. In an emergency (and only in an emergency), suggest colleagues can text you.
5. Keep the Wi-Fi switched off whilst on holiday and only switch on if you need to use your device to research your holiday – no sneaky peeks to check your emails!