Bank holidays are great – or are they?
Yes, we get some extra days off, but it seems it is never quite as relaxing as we think it will be.
The beaches are busy (if we get the right weather) and the trip to the seaside quickly turns into a quest to avoid a screaming toddler having a meltdown and finding a spot on a crowded beach.
Shopping is equally stressful over the weekend with everyone stocking up on food as though this was a bank holiday week and not just one day.
So, after years of carefully analysing what went wrong on my bank holiday weekends, here are my tips:
I worked the May Bank Holiday and then had a Monday off when everyone was at work, and the coast was all mine.
Not everyone has that option though or you may actually want to spend it with someone else, so here are four alternatives to simply working through
Go to the coast, not the beach
If you are determined to go to the sea, head for a coastal walk rather than the beach. You will meet hikers, but few people bring half their household to set up camp for the day, so it will be quieter and you can have a breather and still enjoy the view.
The fact that you are walking will make you tired for the evening and help get a good night sleep before the (shorter) week starts again.
Invite friends – but only certain ones
Since almost everyone is off, it is a great time to catch up. But usually that ends in stress for you. The tidying, cleaning, shopping, cooking, hosting, and then cleaning up again is not the way to relax on your bank holiday weekend.
So think about who you genuinely want to spend time with. You can meet at home or rent a place for the weekend, but it is all about spending time together, it is not Come Dine With Me.
Have each person bring one course or agree to simply order in or eat out and focus on spending time together. When is the last time you had a film night together or actually played games?
Think of activities you will enjoy but which do not require you to spend the day prior preparing it all.
Hideaway in a spa
If you want complete relaxation, there are places which will do just that. Find a spa and hotel where you can get pampered and not worry about the house, the shopping, or catching up on work.
Three days of massages, jacuzzi, sauna and facials.
Yes, the hotel itself may be busy and you may encounter people during mealtimes, but for treatments you are guaranteed to be on your own – or as a couple – and you will come back relaxed and rejuvenated.
Take on a project
You rarely have three full days to do something, it is a luxury, so you may want to be productive.
This is the perfect time to take on a project. Alone or together, pick something you have been meaning to do for a while (ideally around the house as to avoid the traffic jams, shoppers and general holiday makers). This could be gardening, it could be a pile of books you never got to, a spring clean, or it could be taking the time to focus on a new hobby. If you have been looking to start meditation or mindfulness, take the extra few days to really immerse yourself in it.
One last tip:
The key is preparation
You may not like lists, but in order for a bank holiday weekend to be full days off, you need to get the pesky little chores out of the way before.
It can be as simple as doing one extra task every night that week so you are ready to go away or stay in for the weekend. Do your laundry one evening, the shopping another, and check ahead of time you have everything you need for your project, because on Saturday morning, the garden centre is likely to be full of less organised people who just decided to start on their back yard project.