There is something so beautiful, magical even, about getting your entire family together at the same time, same place. And no arguments. I feel really lucky that for the past week I have been able to hang out with my nephews, sisters, brother in laws and my dad & stepmum. All twelve of us! I can’t even remember the last time we were together for that long in one house. We stayed in a gorgeous villa on Berawa Beach in Bali, Indonesia (just near Seminyak). The villa exceeded my expectations and was just perfect for our family getaway.

With so many personalities to contend with on the trip I was worried about how the dynamics would work. Everyone seemed to have different expectations and agendas which made me nervous. My hubby wanted to play golf, my brother in law wanted to surf, the kids wanted to live in the pool, my sister wanted to eat at the best restaurants… Me? I just wanted to sit by the pool and drink cocktails 😉

Generally everyone gets along in my family and I’d say that we are pretty close but we all know every family has their issues. After months of stressing and overthinking about the trip beforehand, I got some game changing advice from a couple of wise girlfriends. So here it is: how I survived a week with my parents and siblings (and actually enjoyed every second of it!) –

1) Have no expectations. Take what you THINK a family vacation should be and chuck it out the window. Take each day as it comes and be pleasantly surprised when great things happen.

2) Time together and time apart. It’s lovely to all be together but you need to remember to take some time out for yourself, your partner and kids. After a week with my family we decided to spend our last night in Bali on our own with the kids and it was great decision. It made us appreciate the time we had with the extended family and reconnect as our little family unit.

3) Go with the flow. If you want to do what everyone else is doing, great! If not, don’t be afraid to do your own thing. Likewise, don’t get upset if someone doesn’t want to go along with whatever you’re doing. Relax, it’s a holiday for everyone and it’s meant to be fun.

By some miracle (let’s call it love) we didn’t kill each other. The trip was a huge success and I loved it. Lifetime memories were made. Relationships were strengthened. Love was truly all around us.

And the most beautiful thing for me was watching the bond between my boys and their cousins grow. They are gorgeous kids and I can’t wait to see them all grow up together as best mates.