Beating the blues

DO ask someone to cut the grass and maybe do a bit of basic weeding while you're away. There is nothing more dispiriting than coming back to a semi-wilderness to tame, on top of everything else. Ditto the house plants.

DO try to do some of the laundry while you're away. Easy when you are in self-catering but if you are not (and can afford it) use the hotel valet service.

DO have food in the freezer (preferably ready-made meals) and buy milk on the way home so you don't have to hit the supermarket while you are still holiday lagged.

DO leave the dog/cat/ hamster wherever they are for an extra day to give you time to settle back before you need to go walkies, clean cages etc.

DO open the post as soon as possible. There may be something crucial there.

There is really only one important no-no...

DON'T cut it too fine coming home. Most people need time to come back to routine. A bare minimum of a two-night buffer is needed. And remember, flight delays and traffic hold-ups can add enormous amounts of time to the journey.

Final point, don't have too high an expectation of your holiday being perfect/solving problems etc. It won't. It's like Christmas that lasts a fortnight. Bunging people who don't normally spend lots of time with one another is a fraught business. They might find out things they don't really like about one another. The needs and rhythms of adults and children are generally self-cancelling so there has to be an awful lot of give and take - some people are better than others at this. Best tip for happy hols is to try to accommodate spaces for all those different needs.

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