How to recharge on a short holiday

Boycott the housework and the kids’ sports for one weekend – and take a load off.

Weekends certainly ain’t what they used to be. Whatever happened to endless hours reading the papers after a long lunch?

Judging by the crowded supermarkets, Sunday has become shopping day. Saturday is all about sporting events, kids’ birthday parties and hitherto neglected housework.

As a parent, you often feel like you’re running a marathon at the pace of a sprint.

Towards the end of a busy school term, you just want to scream, “Stop the weekend, I want to get off!”

There seems to be an epidemic of over-scheduled kids and over-anxious parents. No wonder the weekend traffic routinely rivals the weekdays. Perhaps it’s time to break the routine by taking a weekend away? Or, at the very least, a digital detox.

Research by Toga Hotels reveals one in five Australians dedicate almost half of their weekends to work, with one in four checking emails repeatedly.

I’m seriously considering buying a safe to lock the iPhone, iPad and computer away on Friday nights.

So, once temptation is out of the way, where to go?

We’re big fans of staycations, due, in part, to the declining dollar. So why not check into a hotel and be a tourist in your own city?

There’s plenty on this time of year, including the Canberra Comedy Festival, Moomba in Melbourne and the Adelaide Festival. Many of the family activities are free.

Last weekend, we explored the NSW Art Gallery, wandered through the Botanical Gardens and saw a movie. Incredibly, it was infinitely more interesting than nagging the kids to do the housework! (Although, it was awkward explaining the meaning of the more ribald works in the Pop to Popism exhibition. Could have been worse, I guess. Could have been MONA…)

According to research by TFE Hotels, most Australians would love to explore Melbourne (23 per cent), Sydney (18 per cent) and  Perth (16 per cent) on a weekend away. (Sorry Brissie, you’ve been beaten by Darwin!)

Emma Fraser, group marketing director of TFE Hotels, advises families to arrive late in the afternoon, between 3 and 5pm, to try to scam an upgrade. She also recommends mentioning a special occasion, such as a birthday. (You’ll have to word-up the children beforehand. It’s only a white lie, right?)

Of course, there are drawbacks to this cunning plan: the grocery shopping, household chores and gardening won’t do themselves. But a weekend away recharges the batteries, especially when combined with a digital detox.

As a parent, you often feel like you’re running a marathon at the pace of a sprint. It’s not healthy, mentally or physically. And this “hurry sickness”, as author and educator James Adonis describes it, is spreading to kids.

“Being addicted to activity can rob you of the introspection needed to live authentically,” he writes. “The culmination of it all diminishes contentment.”

At the end of our weekend away, we realised we did actually like each other after all.

Think of it as part of the Slow Parenting Movement. Because there’s a reason it’s called a “week-end”.

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