25/07/2009 06:12 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

How Stressed Do You Get Preparing For A Family Holiday?

It takes parents up to two days before they can properly relax on holiday, according to a new survey.

Only two days? Those must be some chilled out parents. It normally takes me at least four, and that was before I became a parent.

The research, released by Norfolkline Ferries, says "pre-holiday tension" can stop people letting go and having fun with the family.

Packing is the main cause of stress, with more than a third of parents saying that getting everything ready drives them up the wall.

I don't know why parents of babies bother to go on holiday at all, quite frankly.

By the time you've packed all the nappies, clothes, bibs, Moses baskets, toys, and all the other essential equipment, you'll be too exhausted to move.

Work is also a major cause of stress for parents with one in six finding it hard to get everything finished and get out of the office.

Bad weather is a serious concern as it makes it difficult to entertain the children, and the cost of activities is also a worry for parents.

Norfolkline has launched a campaign for Families Against Boring Holidays, and has a few tips from psychologist Donna Dawson, for parents planning a trip this summer.

These tips mainly involve a level of organisation way beyond me, but you might find them useful.

1. Reduce packing stress - make a list for each family member and start a week beforehand. A WEEK beforehand. That's serious organisation.

2. A few weeks before your trip (there's a theme here) put together an "entertainment pack" for each child – colouring books, paper, pens and pencils, iPods, books or comics, puzzles, card games, etc.

3. Keep your sense of humour. Try to see the funny side of things. Even, presumably, if your child has been car sick all over the entertainment pack you've spent weeks preparing.

Here's my top tip. For my daughter's first holiday, I hope I've come up with the ideal solution. We're going away with my parents. I'll let you know how successful it is in a few weeks' time...

For more of Donna's top tips, visit