This past weekend I took the family for a weekend away - all the way to King's Lynn in Norfolk (about 45 minutes away in the car). Soemtimes it can seem like we are all so busy day to day with work and school that having a longer period together as a family only seems to happen at Christmas and on our summer holiday.

So after my early morning boot-camp, off we all went up the road to have a fun packed time in Norfolk.

After checking in at our hotel, the first stop for me and my girls was to head to the museum there. I absolutely love taking my kids to visit new museums and (I think) that they enjoy it too! Somehow or other this was the third half term museum we visited after a trip to Cambridge to the Fitzwilliam museum (which didn't seem to engage my two that much) and then the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (which houses a pretty impressive three plus storey high totem pole).

We all had a great time there with the girls making bracelets, drums and puppets (yes I succumbed and made a puppet too!). We loved being creative together there. We also popped into the book shop where the children's section housed a pretty impressive book igloo all set up for Halloween.

 

book house cambridge 

Anyway, back to King's Lynn museum where we had a lot of fun colouring, riding an old fairground horse and wearing all sorts of footwear, including flippers, before we headed over to a big park and had a good explore and run around.

family fun kings lynn

Museums are fun!!

And then we had even more fun while eating out and then playing cards and watching TV in our hotel room until way past (the kids' usual) bedtime.

Sunday involved a quick trip to Hunstanton to have a look at the seaside although it was pouring with rain and blowing a gale so we didn't hang around too long! It was great weather for for these guys who were gliding in the sea though:

hunstanton

And then back home to watch some Halloween TV and Mr Bean cartoons before half term drew to a close.

There are, in my opinion, many benefits of heading off to spend some family time together away from home, even if it's just for one night and only up the road!

Firstly, it was a chance to leave all the day to day stuff from home and work behind and to just spend some time being in the present. Sometimes we can spend so much time thinking over stuff that has happened and planning ahead for things that may happen, that we forget how to just enjoy the present moment. When you go somewhere different, you get much more of an opportunity to notice the things around you and to just go with the flow of life.

Linked to this, we get a chance to look at some different things which can 'wake up' our minds to our surroundings rather than being surrounded by the familiar and starting to switch off from it all. We certainly got to look at a load of things we had never seen before and to be creative in having fun (rather than just getting lost in our screens). And there's a certain joy to not having to worry about the day to day stuff like cleaning and tidying that allows more time to interact as a family.

Which leads me to the greatest bit of all. That is, the joy of just spending time with the people you love most in the world. We got to have laughs and just see what we could get up to, without always having other stuff that we need to check or do in the back of our minds.

Then there's a final benefit, which fits with something I've been trying to be more mindful of myself this year. That is, that rather than constantly chasing the next thing or wanting more and more stuff, I've been trying to appreciate the stuff I do have more. I think it's very easy to get stuck on the consumer treadmill of wanting the next gadget or shiny object or of just wanting more in some way.

And whilst there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, a lot of joy and happiness comes from appreciating what we do have. That might be the roof over our heads, our possessions, our health, our health service or the people in our lives who we love the most. There's an old Stoic exercise that involves imagining losing the things we value so that we learn to value them more. Whilst this isn't quite to that degree, I do think that there can be a certain appreciation, gratitude and joy in coming home again (even after one night) to all that we truly value so that we can appreciate it more fully.

Certainly spending more time with my loved ones makes me appreciate them even more and want to spend more valuable time with my two girls as they grow.

To your joy and happiness,

Dan Regan