With travel to much of the world still restricted well over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK is set for another summer of staycations.
For all its many challenges, a silver lining of the pandemic has been the public’s rediscovery of nature and their local areas, and that extended into the summer staycation. According to eBay Ads UK, a third of UK consumers say they have (re)discovered a love of going on holiday in the UK, while 47% plan to go on more UK holidays in future.
Whether near or far, simple or extravagant, many people - especially families - have realised that they can make memories that will last a lifetime in beautiful locations that are little more familiar than their usual holiday destinations.
Interestingly, eBay Ads UK’s survey also revealed that 38% are more active during their staycation and an active, outdoor staycation filled with activities like camping or hiking is ideal for 37%.
As England’s schools close and pupils join the rest of the UK on their six-week holidays, countless families will be heading on their staycation, whether it be an Airbnb, a hotel, camping or camper van, the coast, the woods, the lakes or the mountains, there are some things dads need to remember and think about to really make the most of their summer staycation.
With a bit more time on your hands over the coming weeks, dads need to take the opportunity not just to relax, recharge and have plenty of fun, but also to reflect on the past year and how we want to shape the next year ahead.
A proper switch off
Various studies, campaigns, blogs and guides in recent years have explored the rising numbers of people who are switching off - whether it be just social media, their mobile devices, or technology altogether.
For dads, there is real benefit in really making an effort to switch off during their staycation. Not having the distraction of social media notifications, doom scrolling or repeatedly checking your phone because you thought you felt it buzz will really help you to relax. Remember, even though you’re taking the kids on a holiday, it’s your holiday too. It’s your time to forget about the stresses of work and day-to-day life and really enjoy yourself.
Whatever level you find yourself at, don’t feel guilty. It’s natural that some will find it harder than others, so plan accordingly. You might feel confident and comfortable enough to leave the phone at home or want a really authentic, distraction-free holiday. You might want to keep it with you for emergencies only, or switch off from social media and apps but keep it to capture those all important moments. Or, if you really struggle to spend time away from your phone, set realistic parameters on when and how you can use your phone.
Being in the moment
A summer staycation with the family can be a little hectic at times, particularly with little ones, whether it’s remembering to pack everything from nappies to the food to the sandals or keeping up with a fun-filled week.
But really try to take a step back from time to time and really take it all in. These are the moments that really matter on a staycation - take a moment amid the chaos of a crazy family activity to look at your children and the joy in their faces, unburdened by the stress of a pandemic and fully immersed into fun.
And naturally, you’re probably heading on a staycation in a really beautiful part of the UK. Don’t forget to take that in either and make a mental note of your surroundings - the crashing of the waves on the rocks, the sound of the gentle breeze floating through the trees, the birds tweeting away. How many of you can remember a specific smell, sound or sight from a childhood holiday?
It’s not just what we do on our staycations that stay with us forever, it’s where we do them. Make sure you pause for a moment, at the very least once a day, to take it all in.
Reconnecting with your family
It’s also incredibly important to think about how you can use your staycation to really reconnect with your family. So many of us are wrapped up in the stresses of our everyday lives that we can sometimes lose connection with the people we love the most.
A staycation shouldn’t just be a time to visit a new, interesting place and try some cool new things. You’re free of those everyday stresses, even if just for a few days. It’s your chance to really engage and bond with your children - parents of older children and teenagers may find this especially important - but also to become a partner again. Many parents raise the issue of feeling like they lose themselves when they have kids; they stop being their own person, they stop being partners to each other, they just become mum and dad.
As we alluded to, your staycation is just that, your staycation, too. It will afford you the time and opportunity to reconnect with your partner and reconnect with yourself.
Shaping the future
This might not be a piece of advice you might expect to see on a staycation article, but staycations are actually a really great time to reflect and think about things. The more relaxed environment will help you to think with a clearer mind about the things that matter and really impact you and your life.
Many parents struggle to balance their job, childcare over the summer holidays and finances. But does it really need to be like that?
Working from home has been a necessity for many over the course of the pandemic. While it has been extremely challenging for long periods, it has, however, given many people the freedom to work wherever they want and much more flexibly in terms of when they work.
Working from home and flexible working gives us the opportunity to think creatively about our lives, annual leave and staycations. A holiday often requires both parents to take the week off work, resulting in another week of childcare to figure out later down the line. The ability to work anywhere opens up the possibility of taking slightly longer stays without the need to take as much leave.
Could you get away for two weeks instead of one by just working in the mornings (dads with teenagers, I’m looking at you!)? One thing the pandemic has given us is the impetus to adapt our working lives to suit us and our family lives. And that could lead to more and more memories.
As dads, we all know how tough the past 16 months have been. But this summer’s family staycation is a chance to forget about all the issues, all the challenges, all the stresses you’ve faced as a family. It’s a time to be together, to explore new places and enjoy new experiences. And it’s a time to take those experiences and decide how we want to shape not only next year’s staycation, but our day-to-day lives.