Things I learnt on holiday and why men are better at self-care

I am just back from a ten day holiday with my family. We explored the Wild Atlantic Way from Cork to Killarney in our camper van, with a few B&Bs sprinkled in for a touch of luxury.

We didn’t get the weather but we sure made the best of each day anyway.

I find a holiday is a curious thing – there is this strange pressure to make the most of it and enjoy every minute because soon you will be home again. But, shouldn’t every day in our life feel this way (as much as possible)?

I found we lived very much in the moment and spent our days for pleasure – lingering over breakfast, seeking sunshine to sit in, pretty views to admire, lovely food to eat, time to reflect.

It was a lovely break from our normal day-to-day routines and of course, work.

We came back feeling refreshed and inspired, and also, amazingly, happy to be home. I’m calling that a success.

And while the holiday might be over, there are a few little things I realised while we were away that I want to extend into our ‘normal’ lives, i.e. when we are not on holiday.

They are…

Making time for hobbies and self-care

While we were away, I noticed how my Husband spent time doing things he loves to do – flying his drone, going for little exploring walks, playing with a boat from his childhood in the sea with our little boy (I’m not sure who enjoyed it more!), BBQing, eating ice creams and watching his favourite movies late at night.

Then I noticed the things I had brought along with me on the trip, along the same lines.

I brought my journal and enjoyed writing in it every night. I coloured in some mandalas in a colouring book while we chatted in the evenings and we played Battleship (a game from both our childhoods) together for the first time. Another night on the trip at a B&B, I soaked in a beautiful bathtub of bubbles with a glass of wine and a book – and felt like a queen. 

This got me thinking – all of these little activities we so carefully made time to do on our holiday, all of them we can also do at home, if we simply make the time for them. So why don’t we?

Well, my Husband is actually much better than I am at doing things he loves to do even when we’re not on holiday. He goes training at least twice a week, rain, hail or snow. He manages to get the drone out from time to time. And he’s also great at his version of meditation – a half-hour nap on his lunch break! It’s what he enjoys, what gets him through his week happily, and he makes time for it all quite well.

This got me thinking – are men better at self-care than women?

Personally, I think they are.

Men are good at making time to do the things they enjoy doing, women, well, women are not, frankly. We’re always too busy with something else. At least, I know I am. But I’m going to work on changing this. Sure, we’re all busy, all the time, but no one said we can’t also schedule time for bubble baths and reading, did they?

So there you go, instead of souvenirs, I brought home Holiday Resolutions.

And they involve taking more bubble baths.

Spending more time in nature

This was another thing I really noticed while we were away.

We had built a holiday around the Wild Atlantic Way, around being outdoors, whatever the weather, exploring the coast of Ireland.

Because this is what we love.

We love being out in nature, for my Husband and I, and our little boy too, nothing beats fresh air, the wind in your face, the ground beneath your feet and the tallest trees around you.

We love walking in forests and on beaches, we love being near the ocean and my Husband, well, he’s more than a little fond of a great view.

In our regular lives, we both try to get outdoors as much as we can – I walk or run every day I am well, as mentioned my Husband trains at least twice a week outdoors and on the weekend whenever we can, we try get out for a hill walk, pier or beach walk or park walk.

But truly being out in nature for pleasure probably doesn’t happen as much as we would like though – and we’ve both vowed to change this.

If you watch the Happy Mag instagram, you will see I had my first ever swim in the Irish sea on this trip. Yes, I’ve lived in Ireland for almost twenty years and never had a proper sea swim here! What a disgrace 😉

It was fabulous – refreshing, invigorating, joyful. Definitely something I’d like to do again very soon. Certainly sooner than another twenty years!

Remembering how to play and have fun

Our holiday was also a little reminder, for me especially, of how to play and have fun. Our little boy is 3 and boy, is he good at showing us how to have fun.

He finds joy and laughter anywhere and everywhere – finding shells on the beach, tossing his little Snowman stuffed toy in the air, chasing bubbles, throwing pebbles into the sea, pouring water between different cups, on slides, swings and merry-go-rounds. Even bridges and hills as we drove were fun and exciting for him.

How much do we do for pure fun?

How much play do we have in our lives, not just on holiday?

While my little boy shows me again and again how to play, in my normal day-to-day there seems to always be something else that needs to be done (are you seeing a common theme here? I know I am).

On holiday, away from the normal, there was nothing else to do, so we played, free of time restrictions and anything else that normally gets ‘in the way’.

I went down the tallest slide in the playground (again and again and again!) after my little boy, without worrying that I had laundry that needed to be hung out or an email to respond to. I ‘swinged’ next to him on the swings (which, by the way, he calls ‘beautiful swings’. We don’t know why, but why not?). I threw pebbles into the water with him with gusto. We tossed the Snowman between us all. We kicked balls and ran barefoot in the grass. Yes, we really did. And it was all just wonderful. (And yes, I do do this kind of thing ‘normally’ with him too, but I guess not with as much enthusiasm as I’d like.)

No matter how old we are, we don’t forget how to play, we don’t forget the enjoyment from it either. And I think maybe we could all do with a little more play in our lives, where possible, would you say? Recently I heard of an adult buying lego for themselves to play with. That’s right, not for their kid, for themselves. And why not, indeed.

So for me? The holiday was great while we were there, and the experience of it all reminded me about the simple pleasures of life, of the importance of making time for them, of creating a life you don’t need a holiday from. 

So here are my questions for you. Are you taking a holiday this year? What will you do, and how will you spend your holiday time? And, can you start doing more of those things even before you go?

PS. Would you like to see where we went and what we did on our holiday? Let me know and I’ll do a separate post.

By Happy Magazine Editor, Holly Kennedy.

1 Comment

  1. Nuala King
    1 August, 2019 / 9:24 am

    Thank you for a wonderful article and a timely reminder to appreciate what is on my doorstep…the often very Wild Atlantic! I intend to dip my toe into the water today. N.K.

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