I just love getting away. Whether it be for a mini-break or a (sighs wistfully) fortnight's holiday, there's simply nothing better. There's the big stuff, like the change of scenery and the chance to meet new people and, if you're really lucky, experience a new culture. Then there's all the little stuff, like the fluffy white hotel towels, the woody aroma of the leisure suite's sauna and the fact that you don't have to think about preparing a meal for days on end.
There's just one thing that puts me off going away. Coming back. Yes, it sounds idiotic. And yes, I'm not daft enough to forego all of the above advantages in the interests of avoiding a post-holiday slump. The thing is, though, that the return to reality can be tough. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. As she was in the throes of preparing for a long-haul trip, a good friend confided in me that she was already worried about how she'd cope on her return.
So what is the average holiday-lover to do? While there is no panacea, the following small acts can make the pain of getting back to old clothes and porridge marginally more bearable...
1. Forward planning
Big fat groan. As if there isn't enough to do when you're packing for an entire family, I hear you say. This is all about making things easier, so bear with me. And it really doesn't involve huge swathes of time - honest. If you're away for a lengthier break, consider asking a neighbour or relative to air the house and have a few fresh supplies in the fridge for your return. If you shop online, see if you can squeeze in the time to place an order for delivery just after your return. That way, you can avoid the trauma of the supermarket run and focus on the laundry mountain instead. Workwise, ensure that your colleagues and/or clients know that you're out of action for the duration. There's nothing like an inbox crisis to really ruin your return.
2. Breathing space
When you book your time off, try to avoid arriving home late on Sunday night when you're due back in the office at 0830 on Monday. I know, I know, it's hard enough to carve out time for the actual holiday and for the self-employed time is money. It's just that an extra 24-48 hours to catch your breath and settle back in at home can make the inevitable return to work far less painful.
Can't spare the extra time off? At the very least, save some holiday budget for a family takeaway when you stagger through the front door tired, dirty and hungry. The prospect of preparing a meal and washing up afterwards is never going to appeal after a long journey with small people in tow.
3. Make the goodness last
We've all been there. While you're away, you feel revitalised, energised and at one with the world. "I'm going to hang onto this feeling," you assure yourself as you mentally hatch a plan for fulfilling all your wildest dreams. Two seconds in the front door and the transformation back into jaded, cynical and downtrodden working mother is complete. (Or perhaps that's just me?)
The key here is a keepsake. Whatever works for you. It could be an expensive body lotion from the hotel spa. It could be a jar of pebbles or shells from the beach. It could be your travel journal from your time away. It could simply be all those snaps that are stashed away on your smartphone.
Which brings me to my final thought: Don't leave them lingering on your SIM card. Print them, frame them, enlarge them, look at them. And whisper to yourself these three little words:
"I'll be back."
How do you cope with the post-holiday slump? Leave a comment and let me know.