Midlife Musings: Debra Johnstone
This year, as part of my 60th birthday celebration, I am fortunate enough to be experiencing a multi-family holiday.
Throughout the year, my life has been honoured in a myriad of ways. At the moment I am in the UK visiting family and friends and going back to my roots. I’m loving every second and it’s a very emotional time, being my first time back in 14 years.
Family Holiday Was Challenging To Organize:
I very much wanted to do to celebrate this exciting milestone was a holiday with my sons and their families. It had also been a goal of mine since my kids left home to pay for a family holiday too. Something I did a lot when they were children, but hadn’t done since they were teenagers.
As with most of us by this stage, my kids are now adults. I have two sons who have partners and I have four grandchildren. Another one on the way too. So you can imagine how challenging it was to organize this and even get them all to agree!
“Make it an occasion they would want to be present for.”
It was touch and go for a while, I can tell you.
If you have adult sons like me you might wonder how this holiday even got off the ground. I’ve even heard women say that they have the same challenge with adult daughters.
Also, in-laws plans with their own parents and siblings to bear in mind too makes planning a multi-family holiday tough. And of course my work and theirs. I have to admit it did feel a little chaotic to plan a trip that felt very complex, and to get buy in. But on reflection I’ve realised why I was able to make this dream a reality.
5 Steps To A Successful Multi-Family Holiday:
1. Make It An Occasion:
Making the holiday an acknowledgement of my 60th birthday helped a lot to get consensus. Our kids, no matter how old they are, tend to want to be present for special times. Especially as we are getting older. That doesn’t mean we have to wait for a decade milestone. There are plenty of special times we can mark in this way.
2. Have Plenty Of Time To Organize:
I started talking about this about 18 months beforehand and I began planning 12 months out. The more they hear us talk about something the more familiar they feel with it. This helps make it seems less like a dream. And the more they hear about it, the more it feels like a plan. Instead of seeing the “yeah right” smiles, we begin to see agreement and interest. They also have plenty of time to organize their other commitments too, including work.
3. Choose A Place Everyone Likes.
This felt quite challenging to be honest, because everyone has different interests and environment preferences. Plus I adore the beach and wanted to be close to one. So I chose a small island a car trip away. The accommodation was nothing flashy, but surrounded by nature and wildlife, and play areas for the kids. It was a walk or short car trip from a number of deserted beaches too. We all had our own privacy and there was plenty of gathering space for us outside. Nothing not to like.
Once we find something that everyone likes and start sending them information with plenty of images they get excited. Especially when they start showing the pics to their kids if they have them. Again this has to be done way in advance.
“For most of my life I have travelled on a fairly tight budget and this was no different.”
4. Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse:
For most of my life I have travelled on a fairly tight budget and this multi-family holiday was no exception. When we look for something that’s within everyone’s financial means it becomes an easier decision for all. Obviously offering to pay makes it a no brainer. And if we start saving early for inexpensive accommodation it does become possible even if we have a limited financial situation.
But we can also make them an offer they can’t refuse in other ways too. Maybe suggesting an on hand baby sitter if they’ve got things they want to do as a couple. Or paying for dinner out a couple of times, or maybe some group activities you all want to do.
5. Don’t Give Up:
We need to remember that their lives are all consuming and they might sometimes feel like they’re trying to keep everyone else happy. As a daughter and as a mother we know what that feels like, because we’ve been there ourselves.
It’s important that we don’t get offended if they seem uninterested when we first start talking about our dream. Trust me I went there to begin with. I felt quite hurt and it would have been easy to just give up. But I’m really glad I didn’t.
Our holiday has been the highlight of the year for all of us. They all said how much they enjoyed it and far more than they thought they would. We were together for a whole week and I haven’t seen them all so stress free in years. So much interaction between their two families and an abundance of laughter and joy. The grand kids had a ball too.
And guess what? We’re talking about having family holidays regularly now and this time the prompting hasn’t come from me.
About the Author:
Deb Johnstone is a Transformational Mindset Coach and a Midlife Transition Mentor. Experiencing midlife transition herself, she wanted work with more meaning and started her coaching practice in 2012. After the death of her father in 2019 and processing her grief, Deb experienced a deep loss of self where her identity felt challenged. It was through this that she felt the calling to work with women in this phase of life. It is now her mission to support women to transition midlife and beyond feeling confident, empowered and free to be your true self and live the life you want and deserve. You can connect with Deb on Facebook through The Empowered MidLife Woman where she posts insights daily, or connect with her through her website.