Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)
Love where you live but can’t seem to relax and switch off enough to make a week at home seem like a holiday? Here are five top tips from business owner and mum of four, Cath Loiacono on how to make the most of spending a holiday at home. You’ll save a fortune and still go back to work feeling like a million dollars.
Cath and Paul Loiacono have been parents for 11 amazing years and now have four kids to keep them busy, plus their own businesses to run. As two people who are self-employed, it’s hard enough to find the time to hand over the reins for a week and just relax. And with the kids to entertain, there are few opportunities on a family holiday to enjoy time together as a couple.
“Paul has run his own company for more than 10 years and I started my online sports and active wear store Fibre15 in the last 12 months,” says Cath. “The last time we went away together was a long weekend in Singapore to see the Formula One Grand Prix and that was five years ago! It was great but took a big effort to organise everything so we could get away without the kids and we just haven’t had the time or energy to do it again.”
So when the couple were out for dinner and daydreaming about having a mini-break, Paul had the idea of taking a week off and staying at home as a way of having some couple time without all the preparation involved in leaving the kids with their grandparents.
Here are Cath’s five tips for making the most of holiday time spent at home, so you can benefit from the best of their experience.
1. Stick to term time
Having the kids in school every day gave us six clear hours to spend just as we wanted. When we holiday with the kids we dedicate most of our time away to doing things they’ll enjoy. The chances of having a five-minute conversation without being interrupted, or lingering over a coffee after lunch are non-existent! And knowing we’d see the kids after school everyday was great. Although we welcome the time alone together, it’s hard not to be thinking about them when we’re away, wondering if they’re OK and that’s not very relaxing either!
2. Get ahead on…
Laundry, shopping and housework etc. A little time spent the week before can spare you from some of those routine chores that get in the way of your holiday time. I did a big grocery shop and had clean school uniforms all hung up and ready to go for the week ahead. I also did a big push on the housework so there would be less to do in the week. Plus, I had Paul around to help in the afternoons when the kids got home so that really cut down on the time it took to stay on top of chores.
3. Be spontaneous
Life with a large family can be very routine. So the thing that made it feel most like a holiday was having the freedom to just make it up as we went along. We might chat about what we’d like to do the night before and depending on the weather forecast we’d decide to check out a movie, walk to the surf club for coffee or take a drive to a new restaurant. The day we went to Sydney was fantastic, because we could just take our time, stop for coffee en route when we felt like it, linger over lunch at the Opera Bar and take a long stroll in the Botanic Gardens. Nothing felt like a rush which made a lovely change from the norm!
4. Hit the road and explore
We had about six hours between sending the kids off to school and being there to welcome them home. So once we’d waved them off, we didn’t hang about and would make tracks for a lunch outing, beach walk or a trip to the city. We’re very lucky to be living in a beautiful part of the NSW Central Coast so being in nature was very easy to do without travelling far. But even spending time in the car talking, just the two of us, was a novelty and something to enjoy. When you take a long drive to visit somewhere special, the journey itself is a rare chance to be together and chat.
5. Make time for kids at the weekend
We rounded off the holiday week by enjoying a couple of nights away with the whole family in the Hunter Valley. It was the perfect way to share the holiday feeling with our four children and give them the best of ourselves and our full attention for an entire weekend. We’d spent the whole week reconnecting with each other so it was really easy to be relaxed. Exploring the Mega Creatures expo in the Hunter Valley Gardens made it feel like a special occasion for our little ones.
So was Cath and Paul’s experiment in holidaying at a home a success? “This is something we’ll be doing every year from now on,” says Cath. “The money you save on travel and accommodation is just the beginning of the benefits of taking a break at home. When you go on holiday, there’s a lot of luck involved in choosing the right location and accommodation that has everything you need. Holidaying at home takes away all that uncertainty and you don’t need to worry about packing enough of the right clothes for changeable weather or extra activities you might want to do. All in all, it’s a really easy way to relax and switch-off without all the stress and hassle that can be part of travelling with a big family.