Last week, we went on holiday. A real holiday. Flights, bags, hotel and no covid tests. Like in the old days (or almost, bar masks and certificates of recovery). Since the day we were locked at home for Christmas, getting to this holiday was our single biggest goal. With a nervous smile we boarded the plane and a sigh of relief finally happened when we opened the door to our hotel room. Until then, I guess we were still accounting for something to go wrong. But we made it there. What a joy.
A different place
We were back to our favourite – Club Med style – but this time in a new place, Peisey Vallandry. Booked 2 years ago, you barely remember what you are going for. As we got there, so much was familiar and so much was new. We were all like little children asking a tour of the hotel, registering for classes, ski equipment, exploring premises. I unpacked within the hour, kids’ fluff toys and all, and we were ready to have a home away from home for a week. On day 2, Baby S asked if we could live there. I tried to explain that would be boring after a while but did not get much buy-in.
I find that getting out of the home creates an instant way of cutting the cord and resetting the reality. I admit I struggle to make much of a holiday when I am home (isn’t there always something in the wrong place?). So number 1 for us was the ability to be away and face a new reality.
A different scenario
A ski holiday is different from anything we have day-to-day. Even if we are on a similar early wake-up schedule. But we dress differently even. And we spend our day outdoors in a type of place we don’t experience day-to-day. Maybe you feel differently if you come from a snowy place – but between Lisbon and London, snow was never a regular thing. So the climate sets the scene, the mountains are our enormous stage and we go through rounds (and chair lifts) of endless physical activity where the only thing that matters is the slope, the turn and whether the skis are parallel enough. Oh, and if there are too many people in the queue to the chairlifts, but then again there is not much we can do about that.
I find that in ski holidays, we get completely immersed in the concept. Unlike beach holidays, where there are multiple beaches, different people we meet and usually a longer period to optimise activities, in skiing, the schedule needs to be kept. By 8.30 kids need to be at mini-club so we can all depart for ski lessons at 9.00. We all exit through the same door (quite literally) and take the same route back to finish our day – roughly.
A simplified experience
Many people can hate Club Med style of holidays. Personally, they work the best for me in ski holidays because I find the experience is simplified. And simplicity means less decisions and more time for the mind to rest. Given the ski schedule I described above, you are in automatic pilot, not having to decide what you do each day. In fact, the only decision, especially for the kids is how many pancakes to have, what flavour of ice cream to get and whether to get fresh fries with the pasta.
I find the fact that we don’t have to book restaurants, agree meet up places each day and coordinate everyone’s schedules is probably the only reason why we can go with other families without anyone getting in the way of each other. To the point that we had the same table every day (even if I hated its location and I boycotting it next year).
The predictability also helps the kids. They quickly get to know their surroundings, where to go, what they can do. And that comes with peace.
Space for me
Ski holidays are also very valuable for me because I make space for me. Without (too much) guilt. This year, I went back to skiing with a group and quite enjoyed that – except the part where I fell down… However, in the afternoons, I decided that I was doing whatever I wanted. I was not going to feel bad about i) not skiing, ii) working on my holiday (if that’s what I needed to so), iii) taking a nap, iv) wondering around blue slopes to stalk the children skiing with their class. I wish v) was going to the spa but there were no available slots.
All in all, I did a combination of all of this with some journaling time and that was the right balance of small bits of me. You may wonder that after all I wanted choice. Don’t we all? But I wanted only high value-added choices, and for a limited time of the day. That way, there was no decision fatigue after day 2 and I got to spend a good amount of time by the window to the mountain while icing my shoulder without feeling I was wasting ski time.
Space for Family
That is no doubt a priority for me. Which is when you get confused as we outsourced the kids to Mini Club at 8.30am!
However, reality is we were able to enjoy more the times we were indeed together. And at the end of the week, I had one of the best ski experiences ever, as we took the kids skiing for a full day alongside 23km of blue slopes, stopping by to visit an igloo, had lunch in a skiing village, passed by the jumps in the snow park (well, I passed by, Hubby B and Little Girl C did the jumps) and topped the day in the fun ski circuits they have for the kids. All without major aggravation (even if we had to try to convince Baby S to make turns instead of just going down straight). And without rush or a sense we had to be anywhere. Time just passed and we enjoyed it by the moment. A rare experience.
A Holiday to Reset
As I hit reset, I came rejuvenated to restart some sense of normality as we seem to be out of the pandemic (for now). Clearly I did not account for a war. I am grateful for the times we had. And look forward to more.