"Mum I'm bored, there's nothing to do."
If you don't remember that plaintive whine from your own childhood, chances are you've heard it from kids you know. Sometimes it's a calculated strategy to twist a reluctant parent's arm. A likely response to "You're too young", "It's too expensive", or "Maybe later, I'm having a rest now."
When the first excited frenzy of Christmas with its feasting and presents and indulgent relatives is over what do you do with the rest of the time? When the boredom bug sets in, sometimes what the kids are asking for is structure. Someone else to plan and organise and decide. Someone else to create events that give a sense of having done something.
Kids are not the only ones that may struggle to get the best out of that precious holiday time. Often for adults it's not so much the lack of things to do as the problem of choosing. Do you party up large? Do you opt for the unglamorous, sometimes costly slog of house and garden maintenance, or do you head for the beach with a bulging picnic hamper and a nice fat book?
The real question is how you want to spend your holidays. What does it take for you to recharge, to feel ready to take up the life you lead through most of the year with energy and enthusiasm?
Its amazingly easy to end up going back to work feeling depressed that the holidays are over. There are many ingredients in that situation. One of them is how you use the time you have that isn't already structured for you by the need to earn a living, run a house, mind the kids.
Does your life feel more enriched by a bit of self indulgence or by the completion of projects? Is seeing new places or having new experiences the thing that stimulates you? Is it time with friends and family that builds you up or time on your own that you most crave?
Maybe you want something different this year than you wanted last holidays. If you start by considering a whole range of options you're less likely to get caught up in assumptions about what you 'should' do with holiday time.
Sure you'll have to compromise. Your partner probably wants to do something different, your kids or visitors will take up some of your time and attention. And then there's how much things cost to limit things.
This isn't a reason to let everybody else's plans happen to your holidays. Holiday time is a scarce resource. Make sure it counts for you. Work out what time you really can call your own and then choose how to structure your break. If you're too vague you may see your holiday running out before you have a chance to stop and savour it.
Whether you want planned activities or unstructured time this holiday, imagine it, nurture it, go for it, and most importantly, enjoy it.